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Tight ends are intriguing position in Alabama football's preseason camp

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports

TUSCALOOSA - In last year's Citrus Bowl, Alabama took control of the  with 10 minutes left to play  with a 20-yard touchdown strike from Mac Jones to Miller Forristall.

Forristall was the only player in the middle of the field on a block-and-release route; he wasn’t contacted by a Michigan defender until he was a couple of yards into the end zone.

It was the first receiving touchdown by an Alabama tight end in nearly three months.

Tight ends were prevalent in Alabama’s 2019 offense, just not all that often as pass catchers. The personnel to change that is on the roster, but the intent remains to be seen.

Players: Senior Carl Tucker, redshirt senior Miller Forristall, redshirt junior Major Tennison, sophomore Jahleel Billingsley, redshirt sophomore Cameron Latu and redshirt sophomore Michael Parker. (Offensive linemen Chris Owens and Kendall Randolph were listed as offensive linemen/tight ends last season; Randolph, a redshirt junior, kept the distinction, but Owens is now just an offensive lineman by listing.)

2019 stat: Alabama tight ends combined for 21 receptions last year; just in the SEC, six tight ends caught more than that as individuals. LSU’s Thaddeus Moss (47) and Florida’s Kyle Pitts (54) more than doubled UA’s production by themselves.

Storyline: Tucker, the grad transfer from North Carolina, has lofty expectations to fulfill through no fault of his own. 

Teams that recruit as well as UA does do not often have to resort to transfers of any kind, junior college or within the FBS, but when they do, they often do so successfully. Most of Alabama’s junior college transfers have been success stories; just last year, Alabama took a Florida State transfer (Landon Dickerson) who became a season-long starter on the offensive line.

Tucker is next in line, the player hand-selected by competent talent evaluators to immediately fill a need. Considering UA’s lack of receiving threat from the position last year and the threat Tucker was for North Carolina in 2018 (16 catches for 265 yards and two touchdowns), it stands to reason Tucker’s expectations are based in ability as a pass catcher.

Just in the last four years, Alabama has had 45- and 44-catch seasons from tight ends, O.J. Howard in 2016 and Irv Smith Jr. in 2018, respectively, the two combining for 10 touchdowns. Tucker’s production, or lack thereof, could define the position group in 2020.

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson