Returning starters: None
Starters lost: Irv Smith, Jr.
Only a small amount of experience and proven pass-catching ability returns. Last year, Irv Smith Jr. blossomed in the Crimson Tide’s open offense and was, in a way, Tua Tagovailoa’s fifth wide receiver, catching 44 passes for 710 yards and seven touchdowns and becoming a second-round NFL draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings. When Smith was off the field, Hale Hentges was the primary blocking tight end on the roster but he has graduated. Kedrick James, probably the top athlete at the position in the spring, was suspended at the end of last season, faced at least four more games of suspension heading into 2019 and finally decided in late July to transfer to SMU.
There are a half-dozen candidates, just two with some sort of previous experience at the position.
Redshirt junior Miller Forristall, who played in 15 games in 2018 although without catching a pass, is probably the front-runner. He was off to a strong start in 2017 before a knee injury against Colorado State led to a medical redshirt. He also missed time early in August with a foot injury. At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, he can play either the H-back or the Y-end, used primarily as a blocker. Major Tennison, a redshirt sophomore, is probably suited as a blocker from the Y position as well.
NEWCOMER TO WATCH
It seems like a stretch to talk about a senior as a newcomer but Giles Amos fits the ball. The 6-foot-3 240-pound Amos spent three years as a walk-on before earning a scholarship on August 20. He has earned praise from Saban and it is not entirely out of the question that Amos will see significant playing time — if not a start — against Duke.
YOU NEED TO KNOW
Cameron Latu moved from linebacker to tight end in the spring and has remained there, although he may be used primarily as a blocker.
This is one of the more intriguing positions to watch during August practice. It seems unlikely that anyone will match Smith’s pass-receiving numbers, although the trade-off could be stronger point-of-attack blocking. And it is fair to note that no one predicted Smith’s emergence in 2018 preseason, so surprises do happen.
Alabama has not had a tight end or H-back finish the year as the team’s leading receiver since Lamonde Russell (28 catches for 306 yards) in 1990. That yardage total would have ranked sixth on the 2018 team.
“We have some guys: we have Major Tennison, we have Miller Forristall, we have Giles Amos. I know not too many of you (media) guys know who these guys are, but I think they’re gonna be a big asset to us this upcoming year.”
— Tua Tagovailoa