Martin E. O’Malley is the Director of L’Arche Mobile, a non-profit organization celebrating its 43rd anniversary in 2017. L’Arche is French for “the Ark”, a place of refuge. Supported by a Board of Directors, 20 people with various developmental and physical handicaps are part of the community along with 55 Team Members/Assistants (direct care, house coordinators, office, nurses and leadership team) living and working together in four homes and an activity center.
Although, the night was football centric, Byrne addressed a range of sports played on the Tuscaloosa campus including a recent coaching search (baseball). Alabama opens the season on September 2nd against highly ranked Florida State from the ACC in the brand new Atlanta based Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Seminole Recruiting Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach Tim Brewster and Dave Aranda, the Defensive Coordinator from SEC Western Division rival, LSU, spoke to the media as well prior to the charity function.
Other noted speakers included Color Analyst for the Crimson Tide Sports Network and Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, Phil Savage, Jr., Auburn University Director of Athletics, Jay Jacobs, Fox Football Analyst and former Tennessee defensive back, Charles Davis and South Alabama Head Football Coach and former star Alabama wide receiver, Joey Jones.
Devon Walsh, WKRG News Anchor 5, emceed the festivities. Randy Kennedy, Program Director for WNSP 105.5 FM and Taylor Zarzour, The First Team Host on SiriusXM College Sports Nation handled the Q&A sessions.
Davis assessed the upcoming edition of the Crimson Tide, “It’s Alabama. I don’t want to be trite and talk about them reloading and this and that. They do such a great job of not just recruiting but they develop players. As guys move out, other guys are there ready to take their place and they are ready to play. I think that is one of the most underrated aspects of what Alabama does. They develop players and really coach them well.”
He further added, “It’s almost a compliment when I hear NFL guys say, 'With an Alabama player, I don’t know if there is much upside.' They actually say it with admiration that they have been coached so well. What you see is what you get.” Davis believes Alabama will win the SEC West and Georgia the SEC East. He views the Tide vs. the Seminoles as similar teams with “speed, power and aggressiveness on both sides of the ball”.
Savage spoke of the prime time 7 PM CT Chick-fil-A Kickoff between powers from the ACC and SEC, “It’s going to be big time. You have two of the best teams in the country from a talent standpoint. I’ve scouted and spent a lot of time at FSU over the years so I have a lot of regard for what Jimbo Fisher has done there and the players that they have. Of course being affiliated with Alabama I know that program and players extremely well. Bama has a lot of guys to replace but they’ve recruited well enough that it will be a huge game experience for a lot of players that have not had a chance to get on the field.” The two opposing young quarterbacks, Jalen Hurts (sophomore) and Deondre Francois (RS sophomore), are poised to reach another level of improvement according to Savage.
“There is a lot of expectation for the wide receiver, Jerry Jeudy. I think he has a chance to get on the field this year as the third or fourth wide out. I think Joshua Jacobs as a situational back will be utilized a lot out of the backfield à la James White of the New England Patriots with Brian Daboll as the offensive coordinator,” replied Savage on Tide players capable of surprising this season. “On the defensive side everyone is very familiar with Isaiah Buggs the defensive lineman they got from junior college. I think there are high hopes that he can be a significant part of their rotation.”
Davis and Savage agree the winner as well as the loser in the Alabama vs. Florida State game can be participants in the College Football Playoff at the end of the season.