The Tuscaloosa News will review the Alabama roster by examining each position group entering spring practice. The Crimson Tide held its first spring practice Friday, March 8 and will resume after UA’s spring break ends Monday, March 18.
Spring football prospectus: Special teams
Starters returning: Mike Bernier, Joseph Bulovas, Thomas Fletcher, Jaylen Waddle
Departed: Josh Jacobs, Austin Jones
Others returning: Skyler DeLong
Newcomers: Will Reichard
Confidence level: 6/10
Starting point: There are some real assets in this group but also plenty of question marks. Jaylen Waddle flashed tremendous potential as a punt returner during his freshman year, averaging 14.6 yards per return. He’ll continue to be an impact player as long as opposing teams kick to him.
Alabama does return kicker Joseph Bulovas, long snapper Thomas Fletcher and both punters from 2018. The kicking game will need some work, though, with Bulovas missing six extra points and four field goals during last season. Mike Bernier was adequate but not a weapon in the punting game. Alabama would surely like to get more production from those positions, whether it’s from the progress of those players or other options. Special teams coordinator Jeff Banks has a strong reputation for working with specialists and another year with him on staff could help things.
To be determined: Don’t count out Skyler DeLong. He had a rough freshman season but will probably have plenty of chances this spring to regain his punting job. He had limited opportunities in games early in 2018 when the offensive was unstoppable. Spring should be a chance for him to reset and find the stroke that brought him to Alabama.
Also keep an eye on true freshman Will Reichard. He was ranked the No. 1 kicker in the nation but was also an excellent punter for Hoover High School. He has talent to contribute in all three phases of the kicking game, though that’s quite a bit to ask. It’s more likely Alabama determines what his best skill is, or where he’s needed most, and sets his focus there.