Strength indeed comes in numbers. There is no other receiving corps in college football that has produced more than the four who reside in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Recently, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle have been named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. Most schools are hard pressed to find one playmaker at any position. However, Heisman hopeful quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide have a future Pro Bowl roster to choose from.
Alabama came under some criticism a few weeks ago about the wide receivers playing “rock, paper, scissors” before the start of games to decide who’s turn it would be to shine that day. To the group of young men, it was nothing more than boyish fun. However, the perception has seemingly become the reality to viewers in the past several weeks. It appears when one of them is not playing up to standard, another steps up and carries the group in an incredible way. Often times, their production lands them on Sports Center usually with Player of the Week honors to follow.
Jerry Jeudy is the most decorated player in group after having an electrifying season in 2018. He is the defending Biletnikoff Award winner, but this time, his teammates are vying for his crown. He started the 2019 campaign in convincing fashion. Against Duke, Jeudy had 10 receptions for 137 yards and 1 touchdown. The following week against New Mexico State, he had 8 receptions for 103 yards and 3 touchdowns. For the next 3 games, his production dropped a little due to his partners taking the stage in an explosive way.
The first to announce his presence was the electric speedster Henry Ruggs III. Coming into the season, the Ruggs was mostly known for his blazing speed. That was never something that came into question. How he would use that to his and the team’s advantage was still in doubt. Ruggs would waste little time providing an answer. In Week 3 against South Carolina, he had 6 receptions for 122 yards and 1 touchdown. He decided to carry that over to the next opponent, Southern Mississippi. In that contest, he averaged a whopping 37.0 yards per catch on only 4 receptions for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns.
That brings us to Devonta Smith. He, like Ruggs had a great game production-wise against South Carolina. Smith had 8 receptions for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns. Apparently, in Week 5, Devonta won the spirited “rock, paper, scissors” contest. He erupted against the Ole Miss Rebels for a school record 274 yards and 5 touchdowns. The majority of that was accomplished in the first half of play. He has now overtaken the lead for the Crimson Tide in receiving yards and is ranked 9th nationally in the same category.
Jaylen Waddle had a phenomenal freshman campaign in 2018 amassing 848 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also averaged 18.8 yards per catch. To the surprise of many, he has been relatively quiet this season. So far, Waddle only has 12 receptions for 197 yards and no touchdowns. Don’t push the panic button yet on Jaylen. I suspect very shortly, he will more than atone for his absence in production. He has the ability to outperform his teammates at any given moment. Yes, that is a lofty statement, but if you’ve seen him play, I should receive no pushback from my claim.
So, who will win “rock, paper, scissors” this week? Could it finally be Jaylen Waddle’s turn? The answer to that remains to be seen. Regardless, Alabama literally is in good hands with any of its four productive wideouts. In some situations, players may be envious of production from others. That isn’t the case here. They are one another’s biggest far, cheering each other on. Once more, they often get into comedic arguments boasting on who is the better blocker when they aren’t catching passes. So, these young men are all about the team concept. That is hard to come by these days. While it is a tremendous honor to win the Biletnikoff Award and any of these young men are capable of winning it, that is not their overall goal. Strength does come in numbers, and this group would rather have a team award, the national championship.
I am a 2003 graduate from the University of Alabama with a degree in Exercise Science. While at the Capstone, I served as a student assistant with the head strength and conditioning coach of the Crimson Tide football team. I have competed in both powerlifting and bodybuilding for several years. In addition, I have served athletes and people through the arena of personal training. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I am a passionate fan of Alabama, but do not make other fan bases miserable because of it. College football has my heart first, but I cover all areas of sports. Follow me on Twitter: @justinriley7!