Alabama Football: Recent receivers not panning out?

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /

Over the past five years, the Alabama Football team has put loads of wide receiver talent into the NFL with Jerry Jeudy, Devonta Smith, Henry Ruggs, Jaylen Waddle, and John Metchie being a few great examples.

Recently, however, the Alabama Football program has struggled to develop homegrown wide receivers. Every member of the 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes at the wide receiver position has transferred out of the Alabama Football program. As the transfer portal era begins to shape college football, it’s become clear that if players don’t get playing time they will transfer to a program that will give it to them.

From the 2020 class, Alabama signed three four-star wide receivers in Thaiu Jones-Bell, Traeshon Holden, and Javon Baker. Baker transferred from the Crimson Tide after 21 games totaling nine catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. Holden was an interesting transfer, leaving the Crimson Tide after being a starter in 2022. Holden played in 29 games in his Alabama Career, catching 29 passes for 570 yards and seven touchdowns. Thaiu Jones-Bell never panned out due to injuries, playing in 12 games and catching four passes for nineteen yards.

The 2021 class was loaded with a five-star and three four-star wide receivers. It was regarded as one of the most talented wide receiver classes in the country. Despite the talent, Agiye Hall transferred after one season, Jojo Earle and Christian Leary transferred after two years in the program, and Ja’Corey Brooks transferred following the conclusion of the 2023 regular season. Of the group, Brooks had the most success, providing two seasons of production before seemingly being demoted this season.

The transfer portal is a massive reason behind the lack of success with both incoming and outgoing transfers. The arrivals of Jameson Williams and Jermaine Burton certainly took playing time away from younger receivers while providing the Alabama Football with immediate talent at the position. However, relying on transfers to provide an instant impact isn’t a sustainable model. Another key factor in the decisions to transfer may be the constant turnover at offensive coordinator, as many of these receivers were recruited to play for Steve Sarkisian or Bill O’Brien.

Alabama Football: 2022 class looks to stop the trend

Despite losing Aaron Anderson to the transfer portal, the 2022 recruiting class looks like the class that will restore the Alabama Football program back to its old ways.

Isaiah Bond has emerged as one of the top receivers in the country over the second half of the season, solidifying himself as one of Jalen Milroe’s favorite targets. Kendrick Law has seen his role on the team grow through the second half of the season, growing into a versatile weapon for the offense. Kobe Prentice has been a solid target over his first two seasons at Alabama, providing two 300-yard seasons. Shazz Preston will also look to earn key playing time for the 2024 season. Overall, the group has recorded 1,716 yards and nine touchdowns over their two seasons and will look to explode in their third season.

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Note: All stats via ESPN and recruiting rankings via 247 sports.