The line of University of Alabama receiving stars stretches far back beyond Jerry Jeudy, all the way to the original “greatest end ever,” NFL Hall of Farmer Don Hutson.
Jeudy’s acquaintances, of course, don’t go so far. But it has been a particular hallmark of Nick Saban’s Alabama teams to have singularly gifted pass catchers, starting with Julio Jones and going on to include Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley and now Jeudy, all NFL first-rounders, or soon to become the same.
Jeudy, the standout on a remarkable 2019 corps that also includes Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, was just named on the preseason Bilentnikoff Award watch list — hardly a surprise since he won the award in 2018, catching 68 passes for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns despite being part of a talented ensemble.
He stresses, however, that individual goals are second to team success and to being a part of Alabama’s receiving fraternity.
“I’ve been around Julio some,” he said at SEC Media Days in Hoover last Wednesday. “He came up to me before the national championship game and gave me some pointers, just some stuff I should do. Amari is my all-time favorite, he’s from south Florida like me and (Calvin) Ridley. I’ve worked out with both those guys.”
Jeudy shied away from comparisons and from acknowledging the “top receiver in college” accolades that come his way.
“A lot of people say that,” Jeudy said. “But as soon as I have a bad game, they’re going to say I’m the worst receiver in college football, so I don’t really focus too much on what outsiders think. Yeah, I think I’m the best receiver in the nation, but that’s how everybody is supposed to feel. Every receiver should feel like they’re the best receiver in the nation.
“As far as Alabama, realistically, the best receiver, without statistics, it’d be Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley and then me. They are doing it at a higher level than me, so I can’t compare myself to that.”
As for 2019, Jeudy expects the offense to look familiar, despite the switch from Mike Locksley and Dan Enos to Steve Sarkisian as the offensive coordinator.
“He brings his little tics-and-tacs back to the offense,” Jeudy said. “He hasn’t changed (anything), really, everything’s the same, he’s just adding his own 1-2 step into it.”
Then there is the other critical relationship — the one with returning quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
“It’s great having Tua as my quarterback,” Jeudy said. “I met him at The Opening and ever since then, I knew he had something special. Him coming with me to Alabama was a great feeling, knowing he’s a great quarterback, great leader and a great competitor.
The only difference I’ve seen (in summer workouts) is he’s just got a little bit skinnier, in my opinion. Other than that, he’s just improving his game, working on his fundamentals and bettering himself for this year.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt