Returning starters: Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle
Starters lost: None
It’s 100 percent attendance at the reunion.
That means the 2018 Bilentnikoff Award winner as the best receiver in college football, junior Jerry Jeudy (68 catches, 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns). It means junior Henry Ruggs III, a speedy deep threat who had 45 catches for 735 yards and 11 touchdowns. It means sophomore sensation Jaylen Waddle, who had one more catch than Ruggs (46) for 848 yards and seven touchdowns. It means junior DeVonta Smith (42 catches for 693 yards and six touchdowns), who sometimes gets overlooked in this group even though he caught the winning pass from Tua Tagovailoa in the 2018 national championship game.
Those totals: 201 catches for 3,591 yards (a remarkable 17.9 yards per catch) and 38 touchdowns. That’s speed, talent and depth. This will very likely be the last time this group will be together — all three juniors have lofty NFL potential. Alabama has a long tradition of stellar wide receivers dating back to the great Don Hutson and including Ray Perkins, Ozzie Newsome, David Palmer (when he wasn’t playing some other position) and Nick Saban-era superstars like Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley. But this may be the most talented group in one season in Alabama history.
NEWCOMER TO WATCH
John Metchie, who played high school football in New Jersey, where he ended up via Ghana and Canada, would be an instant contributor at most programs. He participated in spring drills at UA, had two tremendous catches in the A-Day Game and may have a shot at solid playing time despite the competition. Xavier Williams, who redshirted as a freshman last year, sophomore Tyrell Shavers, a big target at 6-foot-6, and redshirt sophomore Slade Bolden, who has had a solid August camp, probably belong in this category as well.
YOU NEED TO KNOW
This unit calls itself the “Ryde Outs.” The nickname was originated in 2018 by former Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley.
Barring something both unforeseen and dramatic, the wide receiving corp should challenge the 4,000-yard/40-touchdown level for a second straight season.
According to a feature article by Bleacher Report’s Adam Kramer, Ruggs has been clocked at 24 miles per hour — the fastest time Alabama has ever recorded. There is anticipation he might even topple the 4.22-second 40-yard dash record set by former Washington wide receiver John Ross two years ago at the NFL Combine.
“Great players want to be told the truth and I think those guys are always seeking the truth in terms of what can they can do to get better.”
— Nick Saban on the receivers