Alabama Football: What the addition of WR Tyler Harrell means

Louisville Cardinals wide receiver Tyler Harrell (8)Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Louisville Cardinals wide receiver Tyler Harrell (8)Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

The announcement former Louisville wide receiver Tyler Harrell is joining the Alabama football team excited Crimson Tide fans. Harrell is frequently compared to soon-to-be NFL first-rounder, Jameson Williams.

Some Alabama fans are so bullish on Harrell that they are claiming a healthy Harrell in the post-season will mean another Alabama Crimson Tide National Championship.

Let’s try to not get ahead of ourselves. First, during fall camp and scrimmages Harrell must earn a starting role. There is one main reason for the optimism surrounding Harrell and that is blazing speed. The young man is so fast, if he was headed to Auburn, the Tigers would be claiming he has sub-4.2 speed. He is legit fast, though not that fast.

A forty time of 4.2-anything is scorching. Equally impressive is the 29 yards-per-catch last season. It is true the SEC’s best defensive backs are better than the ACC’s best, but Harrell’s average could go down in 2022 and still be outstanding.

Harrell can’t be found in the 2021 NCAA Stats for individual receivers. His 19 receptions for the season were one short of the NCAA minimum to be ranked. Last season’s No. 1 among FBS receivers was UAB Blazer, Trea Shropshire who averaged 26.04 yards-per-catch. The Tide’s explosive Jameson Williams averaged 19.9 yards.

Will Harrell impact Alabama Football more than Jameson?

For multiple reasons, Harrell, even as a Crimson Tide starter, probably will not match Jameson’s 79 receptions and certainly will not match John Metchie’s 96 pass receptions. The main reason is there are strong indications Bill O’Brien and Holman Wiggins will rotate more receivers in the coming season. The Crimson Tide has a significant infusion of young wide receiver talent. Some of them might be a tad slower than Harrell, but blazing fast as well.

Another reason is the talents of Crimson Tide running backs to be pass catchers. O’Brien will want to get the ball in Jahmyr Gibbs and the other, top three running back’s hands in multiple ways.

For these two reasons, the 2022 Alabama Crimson Tide may not have one player who catches as many passes as Jameson Williams did last season.

Opposing defenses will have to consider doubling up in coverage of Harrell. Doing that will allow more targets to other loosely covered Crimson Tide receivers.

Tyler Harrell does not have a ‘hands’ issue. He only made 19 receptions for Louisville because he was targeted only 35 times. The 6-7, 2021 Cardinals attempted a game average of fewer than 28 passes last season, compared to 38.1 for the Crimson Tide.

Note: Additional team and player stats from

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The optimism over the game-changing potential of Tyler Harrell is warranted. Pencil him in for earning a starting role.