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Meet Bryce Young, Alabama’s hyped heir apparent to QB Mac Jones

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Meet Bryce Young, Alabama's hyped heir apparent to QB Mac Jones

As dominant as Alabama has been under Nick Saban for the last 14 seasons, the advent of game-changing quarterbacks has only been a recent development in his Crimson-hued dynasty.

Before Saban adapted the modern approach with offensive coordinators Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian, his teams relied on slow tempo, a strong running game and an absolute chokehold on time of possession. It was quarterbacks John Parker Wilson, Greg McElroy and AJ McCarron who led Alabama’s offenses — seemingly ages before Blake Sims, Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa changed the game forever.

How times change.

MORE: How Mac Jones went from Tua Tagovailoa’s backup to Heisman finalist

The latest in that distinguished line is the Mac Jones, who in 2020 has put together one of the greatest single seasons in Alabama quarterback history. The unheralded signal-caller leads the nation in completion percentage (77.0), passing yards per attempt (11.3) and has set the NCAA record for passer rating (203.0), one point higher than LSU’s Joe Burrow (202.0) and 3.6 points higher than Jones’ predecessor, Tagovailoa (199.4).

He did that while throwing for 4,036 yards and 36 touchdowns — both good for second nationally — and all in 12 games. For his efforts, Jones finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting and won both the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm and Davey O’Brien awards.

Yet, as good as he is, many who follow the Crimson Tide program think his backup, Bryce Young, will be better. The true freshman hasn’t had much opportunity to contribute to Alabama’s incredible offense in 2020, but he has shown flashes of brilliance while completing 13 of 22 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown.

Here’s everything you need to know about Young, who figures to be a key figure in Alabama’s 2021 quarterback competition and beyond:

Young is tied for Saban’s highest-rated recruit ever

Saban has secured just three five-star quarterbacks in his time as Alabama’s coach: Phillip Sims, the No. 1 pro-style quarterback and No. 31 overall player in the class of 2010; Blake Barnett, the No. 2 pro-style quarterback and No. 6 overall player in the class of 2015; and Tagovailoa, the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback and No. 32 overall player in the 2017 class.

Young, labeled a dual threat, was the No. 1 overall quarterback regardless of style in the 2020 class. He was the No. 2 overall player.

Per 247Sports’ Composite rankings, Young is tied with three other players as the site’s 20th-ranked recruit of all time (he boasted a .9994 rating out of a possible 1.000). He’s tied with Alabama offensive tackles Andre Smith (2006) and Cyrus Kouandjio (2011) as Saban’s highest-rated recruits of all time. Defensive end Nolan Smith, a 2019 Georgia signee, is the other player in that 20 spot.

Despite his label, Young considers himself more of a traditional quarterback.

“People in the (NFL), the Lamar Jacksons, Kyler Murrays, the Baker Mayfields, people like that are really pushing the envelope of what dual-threat means,” Young said in a 2019 interview with USA Today High School Sports. “People think a dual-threat is someone who can, a running back that can throw a little bit … but really dual-threat should mean, and it does mean in my mind, someone who has the ability that can really do both as far as extending plays and run the ball but is still a passer.”

Young comes from a school with an impressive QB lineage

Young’s was a prolific high school career: Per his Alabama football bio, he threw for 13,250 yards and 152 touchdowns (to just 18 interceptions) and rushed for 1,084 rushing yards and 26 more scores, accounting for 178 career high school touchdowns. Tagovailoa had 8,158 passing yards and 84 touchdowns at Saint Louis School (Honolulu), adding 1,727 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns for 111 high school touchdowns.

That Young could put together that stat line is impressive. That he could do that at Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.) makes it astounding. The school has been a quarterback factory, producing such talents as Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley, John Huarte and JT Daniels.

Among that group, Young ranks first all time in passing yards, completion percentage (70.6) and second in passing touchdowns.

He played against the country’s top high school talent

Young played some of the nation’s top teams — and defenses — at Mater Dei. The 2020 MVP of the Army All-American Bowl played such teams as Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.) and St. Frances Academy (Baltimore).

That includes one future Clemson commit in D.J. Uiagalelei, who faced off against Young in the 2019 California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 1 championship game. In that game, Uiagalelei led St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) from a 28-5 deficit to a 39-34 win over Mater Dei. Young threw for 405 yards and five touchdowns in that game, but also a season-high three interceptions and a fumble at the end of the game.

Can we expect those two to face off a couple times in college?

Young nearly committed to USC

Mater Dei has been a longtime quarterback pipeline for the Trojans program; it was nearly the same for Young, who was a USC commit for 14 months before flipping his commitment to Alabama in September 2019. He was staunch in his commitment to the Tide once he flipped, and remains an enticing piece of the team’s offensive future.

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How long are CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic out? Injury timeline, return date, latest updates on Trail Blazers stars

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How long are CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic out? Injury timeline, return date, latest updates on Trail Blazers stars

The Trail Blazers will be without two of their most important players for an extended period.

Portland’s depth took another hit after guard CJ McCollum and center Jusuf Nurkic both suffered injuries during January games. The Trail Blazers, already dealing with the loss of Zach Collins after he underwent ankle surgery in late December, must now lean even more on Damian Lillard and figure out a way to avoid a major drop in the Western Conference standings.

What’s next for the Portland stars? Here’s everything we know about McCollum and Nurkic and the latest news on when they may return to the court.

MORE: When is the NBA trade deadline in 2021?

What is CJ McCollum’s injury?

McCollum left a Jan. 16 game against the Hawks with what the Trail Blazers initially called a left foot sprain. During the first quarter of that contest, Atlanta center Clint Capela jumped to block McCollum’s shot attempt at the rim and landed directly on his left foot.

Additional testing revealed McCollum had suffered a small hairline fracture in his left foot and a mid-foot sprain.

“Bad timing, it’s terrible timing,” McCollum said of the injury. “It’s nothing I can really do about it. I work hard to take care of myself. I put a lot of time in. I put a lot of effort into my body. This is one of the situations where there’s not much I could have done. Maybe if I would’ve done a left-handed layup he wouldn’t have fell on top of me, but it is what it is.

“I think I’m at the point in my life where, control what you can control. I’m not gonna feel sorry for myself. I live a good life. I’m still gonna live a good life. This is something that I can overcome with some time and some rest.”

What is Jusuf Nurkic’s injury?

Nurkic left a Jan. 14 game against the Pacers with a right wrist fracture. During the third quarter of that contest, Nurkic swiped at a driving Malcolm Brogdon, then immediately grabbed his wrist. He walked back to the locker room at the next timeout break and did not return.

“We’re always gonna be here for [Nurkic]. We’re always gonna show our support for him,” Lillard said. “But we gotta give him his space and let him take that in. It’s a tough thing. It comes with what we do, and it can happen at any time. I think that’s the best thing to do and how we should handle it.”

How long will CJ McCollum be out?

Portland announced on Jan. 19 that McCollum will be re-evaluated in four weeks. If he stays on that timeline, McCollum will miss at least 16 games, but the 29-year-old remains optimistic about his future.

“I’m battle-tested, man. I’m good,” McCollum said. “I’ve been through a lot in my life. I’m in a good stage of life. Mentally, I’m at peace.”

How long will Jusuf Nurkic be out?

Portland announced on Jan. 19 that Nurkic underwent wrist surgery and will be re-evaluated in six weeks. If he stays on that timeline, Nurkic will miss at least 23 games. Lillard expects backup big man Harry Giles to play a much larger role with Nurkic sidelined.

“There’s gonna be a huge opportunity for [Giles], and I think he’s prepared for it,” Lillard said. “Mentally, I think he’s a super confident young player. Every morning when I come into the facility, he’s on one of the baskets working on his game, sweating. … He’s been in the gym. He’s been preparing himself for whenever that opportunity came.

“I think now it’s here, and I think he’ll be ready for it. We’re gonna need him to be.”

CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic stats for 2020-21 season

McCollum  Per Game  Nurkic
26.7 Points 9.8
3.9 Rebounds 7.7
5.0 Assists 2.8
1.3 Steals 0.9
0.3 Blocks 0.9
1.0 Turnovers 1.9
33.8 Minutes 23.3
47.3 Field goal % 48.5
44.1 3-point % 25.0
84.4 Free throw % 55.6

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FS1’s Colin Cowherd has nuclear take on Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, AFC championship game

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FS1's Colin Cowherd has nuclear take on Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, AFC championship game

Hey, any interest in hearing an NFL take specifically designed to provoke an emotional response? Well, here’s Colin Cowherd!

The FS1 bloviator took to his microphone on Tuesday’s edition of “The Herd” and decided it was time to drop a nuclear sports opinion on his audience. Patrick Mahomes’ status for Sunday’s AFC championship game is up in the air with the Chiefs quarterback still in the NFL’s concussion protocol, so Cowherd suggested the league should simply wait until he is healthy before the contest between Buffalo and Kansas City is played.

MORE: Mahomes’ mom was not pleased with hit that injured QB

“We want Mahomes against [Bills QB] Josh Allen. That’s reasonable,” Cowherd said. “I’m sitting here this morning thinking, if I’m the NFL, Patrick Mahomes is going through protocol. I find the day Patrick Mahomes can play — that’s when we play.”

If that’s how Cowherd truly feels, then he should have taken it a step further and called out the NFL for not stopping the divisional game in which Mahomes was injured and waiting until he was ready to return. Is it really fair to say the Chiefs defeated the Browns when Chad Henne was the guy scrambling on the final drive? To the time machine!

But Cowherd doesn’t actually care about that. He knows how ridiculous his words sound. He isn’t concerned with offering a meaningful idea, just one that causes people to freak out. (And he did his job. Just check out the replies to this tweet.)

As for Mahomes, the 25-year-old cleared “some big steps” in the concussion protocol, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, though it’s still unclear whether he will be available against the Bills. Should Mahomes be ruled out, maybe the Chiefs can ask Cowherd to write up a special petition detailing why the NFL should take the unprecedented step of putting a conference championship game on hold as a star player continues to recover. Let’s push it back a month just to be safe.

That’s reasonable, right?

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Changes to March Madness schedule could create greatest day (or days) in NCAA Tournament history

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Changes to March Madness schedule could create greatest day (or days) in NCAA Tournament history

The opening Thursday of March Madness 2021 will not be the same. It always has been a holiday for college basketball fans — some of whom planned vacation days, called in sick or skipped school — to sit at home and binge on a day filled with 16 NCAA Tournament first-round games.

The challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic convinced the NCAA to push back the start of the tournament, what is known as the First Four, to Thursday, March 18.

Wait until you hear, though, what the tradeoff for that change to tradition will be: quite possibly the greatest two days of college basketball action in our lifetimes.

MORE: Why NCAA selection committee better not screw ’21 tournament up

Games in the Sweet 16, which will be contested at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, will be played in sequence on March 27 and March 28. There will be no overlap involving these games. There will be four games each day, played one after the other, so fans will not have to choose which matchup has greater appeal. You can watch each of them, one after the other: four on Saturday, four on Sunday.

You’re no longer going to need a second screen or a seat in a sports bar to see all the action — just a really comfortable chair and a stocked fridge.

There will be, for this year, no more choosing between such simultaneous classics as LSU-Texas and UCLA-Gonzaga, which were played in the same window on a Thursday night in 2006, or Virginia Tech-Duke and Kentucky-Houston, which shared the same late Friday timeslot in the most recent NCAA Tournament we had, in 2019.

A college basketball season like no other will end with an NCAA Tournament like no other.

In the case of March Madness, that could be a good thing.

Revised March Madness schedule for 2021

First Four: Thursday, March 18, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall (Bloomington, Ind.) and Mackey Arena (West Lafayette, Ind.).

First round: Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20, Assembly Hall, Mackey Arena; Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Hinkle Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Second Round: Sunday, March 20 and Monday, March 21, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Hinkle Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium.

Regional semifinals: Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Regional finals: Monday, March 29 and Tuesday, March 30, Lucas Oil Stadium.

Final Four: Saturday, April 3, Lucas Oil Stadium.

NCAA championship: Monday, April 5, Lucas Oil Stadium.

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