Aug. 19—Having lost DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle from last season’s team after losing Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs the year before, Alabama has performed some serious replenishing at the receiver position.
Landing four of the nation’s top 10 receivers in the 2021 signing class certainly went a long way toward accomplishing that, as did the early May addition of Ohio State’s Jameson Williams through the transfer portal. Williams, a 6-foot-2, 189-pounder from St. Louis, is an experienced junior after playing 22 games with the Buckeyes, and he apparently hasn’t disappointed so far in Tuscaloosa.
“He’s done great,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Wednesday night on a Zoom call. “He’s a really good player. He’s got really good speed, and you can tell that he’s an experienced player. He’s played at a high level against good competition, and he’s very bright, so he’s picked up on things and learned the offense very quickly.
“We’re encouraged with what he’s done, and I’m sure he’s going to make a really positive contribution to our team and be a featured guy in some ways.”
The Tide, who are scheduled to open Sept. 4 against Miami in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, are gearing for Saturday’s second preseason scrimmage.
Alabama’s returning receivers are headed by junior John Metchie III and redshirt junior Slade Bolden, with Jacorey Brooks, Agiye Hall, JoJo Earle and Christian Leary comprising the touted newcomer quartet. There is plenty of room for Williams, who made six starts at Ohio State and racked up 15 receptions for 266 yards and three touchdowns.
The most memorable catch for Williams during his time in the Big Ten was the 45-yard scoring snag in last season’s 49-28 defeat of Clemson in the Sugar Bowl national semifinal.
Alabama’s other big acquisition through the transfer portal was former Tennessee linebacker Henry To’o To’o, who continues to produce positive results for the Tide defense. To’o To’o has been working at middle linebacker, which is allowing fellow junior Christian Harris to play his more natural weakside linebacker spot.
“Henry is the signal caller and has been a signal caller, and him having experience in doing that is very helpful,” Saban said. “It’s less of a burden on other players on the team, and I think it helps everybody on the team when you have good communication, especially at the linebacker position, where it’s a little bit like the quarterback on offense.
“Henry has done a really good job of that. Christian is capable of doing that, and we have every confidence that if he needs to do it he can, but the combination of both those guys being able to do it is very helpful when it comes to making adjustments and fitting runs and being in the right spot in coverage. It’s been a very positive thing for us.”
Alabama announced Wednesday that Tennessee returned some of its ticket allotment for the Oct. 23 homecoming game in Tuscaloosa. The Tide defeated the Volunteers for a 14th consecutive season last October with a 48-17 thumping in Knoxville.
Georgia tight end Darnell Washington and cornerback Tykee Smith, an offseason transfer from West Virginia, suffered foot injuries during Tuesday’s practice.
“They are both undergoing treatment and have an excellent prognosis,” Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said Wednesday through a statement. “Their status is day to day.”
The Bulldogs, who open Sept. 4 against Clemson in Charlotte, North Carolina, are scrimmaging for a second time Saturday. Smart is scheduled to be available to the media afterward.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.