Nick Saban talks about Alabama’s “diversity in the number of playmakers” on offense. Others call them weapons, and Hale Hentges has blocked for most of them.
On Saturday, the Crimson Tide’s senior tight end got his turn to be one of them.
Hentges caught two passes, both of them for touchdowns, in No. 1 Alabama’s 45-23 victory over Texas A&M at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
It had been a long time since the 6-foot-5, 234-pound upperclassman from Jefferson City, Missouri, had found himself in the end zone twice in one game with the ball in his hands.
“My last football game of my senior year of high school, that was probably the last time,” he said. “It feels great to get back out there and do that again.”
Hentges hauled in scoring passes of 23 and 6 yards from Tua Tagovailoa. In his previous three seasons, he scored three touchdowns total.
“I never dreamed about getting two (in one game),” he confessed afterward. “I always thought about just catching one.
“Those were two of the plays that the tight ends were excited about throughout the week. We thought there was a good chance that we would get those, and thankfully we did get them.”
Fellow tight end Irv Smith Jr. caught four passes for 74 yards. In all, the tight end duo combined or more than a fourth of UA’s receiving yards and Hentges had half of the Crimson Tide’s touchdown receptions.
“We’re definitely getting more involved,” Hentges said. “That’s a testament to how hard we’ve been working and to the faith that Coach (Mike) Locksley (offensive coordinator) has in us. We’re just really happy and excited to be a part of it.”
The receivers voiced no jealousy over the tight ends getting more involved, nor anyone else. In Alabama’s offense, there has been plenty to share.
“It’s exciting for anybody (to score),” wideout Henry Ruggs III said. “If an offensive lineman runs a touchdown, we’re all happy for him.
“We’re a team, and we lift each other up. We build off each other.”
Hentges came to Alabama as a pass-catching tight end prospect. He become more of a blocker. This game might give him something from which to build.
Alabama has big-play receivers in Jerry Jeudy, Ruggs and DeVonta Smith. It has a proven stable of running backs led by Damien Harris. It has a budding superstar of a quarterback in Tagovailoa.
And now it has a new weapon in Hentges.
“I don’t know if I’m a weapon yet,” he said. “I might just be a sidearm.
“We have a lot of good weapons on our team. It just goes to show what kind of people we recruit here. … Hopefully I can just continue to find my way.”
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.