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Great-grandson of Paul Bryant begins lifelong dream with Alabama Crimson Tide

Moving into his dorm room last week was a little different for Paul Tyson than every other early enrollee on the University of Alabama football team.

The building where Paul now lives, Bryant Hall, is named after his great-grandfather. There were plenty of nights when Alabama football coach Paul Bryant worked so late inside that Tuscaloosa landmark that he fell asleep for a few hours after losing track of time. Now his great-grandson will do the same.

College football’s early signing period begins on Wednesday around the country, but Paul and several members of his recruiting class are already enrolled in school at UA and practicing with the team. Alabama has the No.1-ranked recruiting class in the country for 2019, and the group represents Alabama’s national reach.

There are elite players from all over the country, including the top-ranked prospects from football-rich states New Jersey (defensive end Antonio Alfano), Maryland (inside linebacker Shane Lee) and Ohio (safety Daxton Hill). Those players are expected to sign with Alabama because the team is a pipeline to the NFL.

Paul Tyson represents something else.

He is a legacy player because of his famous great-grandfather, but he’s also among a new generation of instate football players who only know Alabama’s dominance of college football through Nick Saban. Like every other young Alabama fan in the state, the great-grandson of Paul Bryant has grown up his entire life dreaming of playing for Saban. Tyson was seven years old when Saban was hired at Alabama.

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, who played for Alabama and is from the Bryant coaching tree, was one of the first coaches to recruit Tyson, but really there was no doubt where he was going after Saban offered a scholarship.

It’s a neat story, but Tyson isn’t on the team because of his bloodlines. He was an excellent quarterback in high school, and he has potential to develop at the collegiate level. His paws are the same enormous size — 10 inches — as his great-grandfather, but Paul Tyson (6-5) is actually an inch taller than the Bear (6-4).

Alabama’s national recruiting dominance has caused the Tide’s total number of instate players to dip in recent years, but the state is better represented in this year’s class. Defensive tackle D.J. Dale of Clay-Chalkville High School is already practicing with Alabama, and could be a difference maker sooner rather than later. Offensive tackle Pierce Quick, who went to Hewitt-Trussville with Tyson, is highly rated. All eyes will be on kicker Will Reichard of Hoover to maybe bring some stability to that position (no pressure, though).

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In all, there were seven instate players among Alabama’s 24 commitments entering National Signing Day, and the headliner is the brother of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. How stacked is this recruiting class for Alabama? There’s a quarterback more popular than Paul Bryant’s great-grandson.

Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa led Alabaster’s Thompson High School to this year’s Class 7A state championship game. Along the way, Tagovailoa’s Thompson defeated Tyson’s Hewitt-Trussville in the playoffs.

There will be a healthy competition between the two players throughout their times at Alabama, but that shouldn’t be viewed as a negative thing. As we’ve learned with Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, internal competition can bring out the best in Alabama’s quarterbacks. And in this era of college football, Saban doesn’t have to worry about the new No.17 going anywhere. Tyson isn’t transferring if he doesn’t win the job immediately.

There is precedent for that, of course. When Paul Bryant was at Alabama, he was “the other end” to a more famous player, the great Don Hutson. Hutson was an elite athlete, and Bryant made a name for himself through hard work and toughness.

Like those historic bricks of Bryant Hall, that standard remains the foundation of Alabama football.

Joseph Goodman is a columnist for the Alabama Media Group. He’s on Twitter @JoeGoodmanJr.

Editor’s Note: Dax Hill of Ohio signed with Michigan on National Signing Day.

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