Alabama Team News

Who will emerge as Alabama’s second option in passing game?

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Bo Scarbrough can’t wind up being Alabama’s second-leading receiver. The Alabama running back is better suited to take handoffs and run over and by defenders, but through two games, he’s tied for second on team in receptions with senior receiver Cam Sims.

Junior Calvin Ridley is the Crimson Tide’s early runaway leader with 12 catches. Sims has three grabs and fellow senior Robert Foster has two.

Foster or Sims could emerge as Hurts’ second option, but so could one of Alabama’s freshmen – Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III or DeVonta Smith. They’ve combined for just two catches for 24 yards, Smith doesn’t have a reception yet, but all three are very, very talented.

Ruggs, the fastest and most explosive of the three, took his first career catch into the end zone on a 16-yard reception against Fresno State. Jeudy reeled in his opening one last week for just eight yards, but the 5-star early enrollee may be the most complete receiver of the bunch. Then there’s Smith, who is the smoothest route runner of the three who is also a 5-star talent.

All three are good enough to be that second option. Ruggs gets the early vote because he’s already scored, but Jeudy and Smith will find the end zone by season’s end, too.

Ridley established himself as a true freshman in Alabama’s 2015 national championship season. He led the Tide with 89 receptions for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns.

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Ridley was Alabama’s top receiver last season (72 catches, 769 yards, 7 TDs), but ArDarius Stewart greatly complemented his play with his size and YAC (yards after the catch) ability. Stewart, who left Alabama after his junior year and was taken in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, was second on team in receptions in 2015 (63) and 2016 (54). He led the Tide in yards last season with 864.

Together, Ridley and Stewart gave Alabama a 1-2 punch at receiver. Ridley is expected to lead the Tide in catches for a third straight season, but could Foster or Sims become that productive second option?

Foster was Alabama’s leading receiver in 2015 before suffering a season-ending injury against Ole Miss. Ridley emerged as Jake Coker’s go-to target. Foster returned for the 2016, but didn’t play much. He managed just five catches for 55 yards, looked as if he’d transfer, but returned for his senior season and earned a starting spot as did Sims.

Sims came into final year with just 27 catches for 260 yards and one touchdown that came in his first year. Has size, (6 feet 5, 214 pounds), speed, but the most yards he’s had in a single game is 54 against Kent State.

The potential is there, but the productivity hasn’t been for the two seniors. This season, Sims has three catches for 28 yards while Foster has 23 yards on two grabs.

Better play from Hurts and the offensive line will enable Foster and Sims to receive more opportunities, but watch for one of those three freshmen to become Hurts’ second option.

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