Alabama Football: Can this trio of receivers separate themselves?

Sep 17, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Isaiah Bond (17) carries the ball against the UL Monroe Warhawks during the second half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 17, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Isaiah Bond (17) carries the ball against the UL Monroe Warhawks during the second half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama football has struggled to establish consistent production from the members of its receiving corps. Three of its younger members, sophomore Ja’Corey Brooks and freshmen Kobe Prentice and Isaiah Bond, have shown the highest ceilings of the group.

Alabama’s passing game in 2022 has featured nearly even distribution of the ball to six different receivers. All six have between 18 and 31 receptions and between 217 and 376 yards. This group includes running back Jahmyr Gibbs and tight end Cameron Latu, who have been excellent safety valves for quarterback Bryce Young all year.

Among the wide receivers, no individual has managed to stand out on a regular basis. Traeshon Holden, Jermaine Burton, Ja’Corey Brooks, and Kobe Prentice all have between 20 and 28 catches. Each has unique and complementary strengths, but none have shown the ability to be complete receivers. Prentice leads the wide receivers in receptions, Brooks leads the group in yards, and Holden has the most touchdowns. With four games left in the regular season, Alabama football is still seeking consistent overall performances from one or two of these guys.

Despite being the eldest and most experienced in the room, juniors Traeshon Holden and Jermaine Burton have suffered from drop problems and disappeared for long stretches. These two are still an important part of the offense, but as the season has gone on, the younger guys have shown more potential to be big-time players.

Alabama Football: Ja’Corey Brooks

Sophomore Ja’Corey Brooks has arguably been Alabama’s best overall receiver this season. After showing flashes of excellence last season, Brooks hasn’t quite been a breakout star in 2022. Still, he appears to be getting more comfortable every game.

Brooks is a big, athletic target at 6’2” and can make contested catches with his long frame and strong hands. While he doesn’t have exceptional speed, he is fast enough. His size and speed combination make him a big play threat. Brooks leads Alabama with 376 receiving yards and 17.9 yards per catch, and is second on the team with four touchdown grabs.

Like the other receivers, he has gone silent at times but appears to have found some consistency as of late. He has had an impact on four of the last five games, notching at least 70 yards in three of those games and scoring a touchdown in three. He was Alabama’s best receiver in its toughest game at Tennessee, and he will be depended on to replicate that performance on a consistent basis.

Alabama Football: Kobe Prentice

Freshman Kobe Prentice has been a reliable target for Bryce Young all year. Prentice leads all Alabama wide receivers with 28 receptions. However, like Jojo Earle last year, Prentice hasn’t been able to make many big plays.

The undersized receiver is quick, but not to the extent of somebody like Jaylen Waddle, and struggles to break arm tackles or create yards after contact. Prentice averages just 10 yards per reception and has scored only one touchdown. He showed big-play ability against Arkansas, catching a 41-yard pass and a 47-yard touchdown grab. While this was a promising display, he has been unable to reproduce it. Outside of the Arkansas game, Prentice has 25 catches for just 187 yards (7.5 YPC) and zero touchdowns.

He knows his role and has a lot of value as a chain-moving possession receiver in the slot. However, if Kobe Prentice could show that the Arkansas game was not a fluke, the Alabama offense would gladly welcome some explosive plays from the freshman.

Alabama Football: Isaiah Bond

Fellow freshman receiver Isaiah Bond has not gotten as many opportunities, but he has capitalized on each one. Bond has made just nine receptions on the season, but is one of the fastest players on the Alabama offense and has arguably been its top deep threat. Three of his nine catches have gone for 20-plus yards, and two have gone for 30-plus. His 53-yard grab against Arkansas was the longest pass play of the season for Alabama.

Bond has yet to score a touchdown, and his best days in an Alabama uniform are still ahead of him. He is electric to watch and the potential he has shown is among the highest on the entire team.

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While it benefits Alabama football to have a multitude of pass-catching weapons, it is still waiting on some impact receivers to emerge. Ja’Corey Brooks, Kobe Prentice, and Isaiah Bond are the most likely to do so, and will have opportunities to change the perception of the 2022 Alabama offense.