Meet the receivers fueling Alabama's potent passing game

0 Comment

A bond exists between members of the same recruiting class, and in particular players at the same position. But a group of Alabama wide receivers felt different last season.

Whether on the field or on the bench, former four-star prospects Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith were practically inseparable as freshmen. In fact, they became part of something of a hockey-style line change for coach Nick Saban and then-wide receivers coach Mike Locksley. Often you'd see Nos. 4, 6 and 11 sprint off the sideline simultaneously and provide an instant spark on nike nfl jerseys wholesale

They were low-key for the most part, though, often seen tearing up second-team defenses during blowouts. They worked hard behind the scenes, knowing Calvin Ridley, Cam Sims and Robert Foster would eventually leave for the NFL. They were like brothers with a common goal of playing early, Ruggs said, all the while realizing the supporting role they had to accept at the time.

Then came the College Football Playoff National Championship and suddenly the timeline changed as the understudies all became leading men who helped Alabama's offense become more prolific than any during Saban's tenure.3

Everyone remembers the buzz when Tua Tagovailoa, then a freshman, entered the game against Georgia and provided a jolt of electricity to a struggling passing game, throwing three touchdown passes, including the winner in overtime. The left-handed quarterback from Hawaii became a legend that night in Atlanta. What was overlooked in the hail of confetti, though, was the sea change that occurred on the other end of those Tagovailoa passes. Jeudy, Ruggs and Smith emerged, all at once.

In the first half, Jalen Hurts attempted eight passes: five to Ridley, Foster and Damien Harris, and three he threw away intentionally. But in the second half, Tagovailoa targeted Jeudy, Ruggs and Smith a combined nine times. Ruggs caught Tagovailoa's first touchdown, a 6-yard pass in the third quarter. Jeudy's 20-yard catch on third-down kept alive a game-tying touchdown drive in the fourth. And Smith, well, we all know what Smith did. He was on the other end of second-and-26, the winning touchdown pass in nfl jerseys china nike

"We see one person does something the right way," Smith said, "and we just feed off of that."

Now, with Ridley and Foster gone and Tagovailoa as the starting quarterback, they've all become starters and, collectively, one the best receiver corps in the country.

They even have nicknames. Ruggs rattled them off recently: The Rugrats, The Three-Headed Monster, Super Sophomores. And those are just the ones he has heard.

Tags: , , , ,