Alabama Football: Jaylen Waddle should not return punts in 2020

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Jaylen Waddle should not be on special teams for Alabama football.

Jaylen Waddle is one of the most dynamic players on the Alabama football roster. Not only does he bring a variety of skills to the table as a receiver, but he is one of the best special teams returners in college football. However, I believe that he should not be the starting punt returner for 2020.

Should Jaylen Waddle return punts and kicks against key opponents like Georgia, LSU, and Auburn? Absolutely. If a close game is one play away from having a different outcome, put your best returner on the field. However, it is not worth risking an injury for the rest of Alabama football‘s regular-season schedule.

Waddle has risked injury as a returner before. We all remember the no-call during the LSU game when a Tiger player blatantly ripped Waddle’s face mask on his touchdown. He has also been tackled after waiving for a fair catch, leaving him unable to protect his body.

These plays are in the past, but he could easily be injured on a return. If Waddle has to miss an extended amount of time, the offense will be severely limited. He is clearly one of the best receivers in the country, and the Tide’s starting quarterback will need him.

This has happened for Alabama football before.

Eddie Jackson was another dynamic player for the Crimson Tide, but an injury kept him from finishing his final season with the Crimson Tide. He got injured against Texas A&M on a punt return when an Aggie tackled him awkwardly. He ended up breaking his leg, and it hurt the Tide’s championship hopes and Jackson’s NFL Draft stock.

No one wants the same to happen to Jaylen Waddle. Although he is electric as a punt and kick returner, he is too valuable as a wide receiver to risk getting hurt in the easy-to-win games. Alabama football should give the chance to someone else.

Who should be considered to start as a punt returner? Keilan Robinson should be near the top of the list. Robinson has plenty of speed at running back, but he will be the third-string back at best. He is more likely to be fourth string. With the lack of carries probable, he could impact the game on special teams.

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I’m not sure if Alabama football will end up sitting Jaylen Waddle on punt returns, but it should at least be considered. With Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs now in the NFL, Waddle will be looking to have 100-yard games as a receiver on a regular basis. Losing him on a punt return is too risky.