Alabama Football: Will revamped receiver room prove to be an upgrade?

Saraland's Ryan Williams carries against Mountain Brook in the AHSAA Class 6A State Football
Saraland's Ryan Williams carries against Mountain Brook in the AHSAA Class 6A State Football / Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY

Alabama Football has already been subjected to an incredible degree of change this offseason, and it’s still only January. The program will likely continue to undergo shifts in structure, philosophical approach, and personnel heading into the 2024 season.

One of the biggest changes will be the receiving corps, as Jalen Milroe will be throwing to almost all new targets in his second season as a starter.

Bama is losing its top three leading pass-catchers from the 2023 season in terms of receptions, yards, and touchdowns despite all three having eligibility to return. Jermaine Burton (39 receptions, 798 yards, eight touchdowns) chose to pursue professional opportunities, while wideout Isaiah Bond (48 receptions, 668 yards, four touchdowns) and tight end Amari Niblack (20 receptions, 327 yards, four touchdowns) both opted to transfer to Texas.

On the surface, it may seem as though Alabama Football is dealing with a total rebuild at the receiver position, but the situation isn’t exactly bleak.

The Tide returns juniors Kendrick Law and Kobe Prentice, both of whom were impactful pass-catchers in 2023, albeit on lower volume. It also brings back sophomore Jalen Hale, who was seldom used in his true freshman season and yet made some of the biggest catches of the year for Alabama Football.

The expectation is that these three returnees will prove to be reliable targets, and that the flashes they have previously shown will translate to more prosperity with a larger workload.  

Exciting new additions for Alabama Football

What gives Alabama the potential to actually upgrade from last year’s receiving corps is the new talent it has acquired, both at the tail end of Nick Saban’s tenure and within the first two weeks of the Kalen DeBoer era. 

On early Signing Day in December, Coach Saban secured 4-star receivers Amari Jefferson, Rico Scott, and Bubba Hampton as part of his final recruiting class. He also landed 4-star tight end Caleb Odom, one of the rangiest pass-catchers in the entire 2024 cycle. This quartet alone would be an excellent receiver haul, one that could potentially add to Alabama’s passing game as soon as this fall.

However, Coach DeBoer was not finished with restocking this position group. Less than two weeks after taking the job, he was able to add two high-upside receivers that figure to be plug-and-play starters.

If Washington transfer Germie Bernard and 2024 5-star commit Ryan Williams are as good as advertised, they can change the dynamic of the Alabama offense. Both are big-play receivers who can take the top off the defense or turn short passes into explosives with their ability after the catch. Additionally, both are versatile players who can be used in a variety of roles and positions offensively, and can even be deployed as return specialists

When paired with Kendrick Law, Kobe Prentice, and Jalen Hale, Bernard and Williams could turn what was once a question mark into one of the better wide receiver rooms in college football. Alabama Football should be fun to watch on offense in year one under Coach Kalen DeBoer.