Kalen DeBoer makes unofficial Alabama coaching debut before big crowd at spring game

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama fans hungry for a return to national-title contention filled Bryant-Denny Stadium for Nick Saban’s first spring game.

Kalen DeBoer steps into a much different situation 17 years later. DeBoer wrapped up his first spring with the Crimson Tide on Saturday just a few months into the task of trying to maintain the juggernaut Saban built while navigating a very different world of NIL and the transfer portal.

His unofficial debut at Bryant-Denny Stadium drew an announced crowd of 72,358 for the A-Day game, nearly 2,000 more than Husky Stadium’s capacity at Washington. If the scrimmage was not a true gauge of how Alabama will look in DeBoer’s first season, the turnout illustrates the level of interest — and perhaps curiosity and anxiety.

“Saban’s the type of guy, he built something,” said season-ticket holder Todd Eddleman, a 58-year-old from Cullman who also was at Saban’s first spring game. “He doesn’t want to see it lose either. He’s proud of what he built. This guy right here, he can keep it up there, there’s no doubt in my mind. I think he’s a great recruiter and coach. I think he’s done a fabulous job, and that’s not an easy thing to do.

“I think his response will be the same as Saban: When Saban w...

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