Could Jaylen Waddle Return for Playoffs?
According to a report from AL.com's Matt Zenitz, the Crimson Tide could have it's best athlete return to action for the College Football Playoff.
According to Zenitz's report, Waddle is expected to have the cast removed from his fractured right ankle some time this week. Though this wasn't presented as a guarantee, there is optimism in the "small chance" that Waddle could return for the playoffs beginning on New Years Day.
The Crimson Tide would, of course, have to be selected to play in the playoffs by the CFP Committee in order to play in either the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl on the first day of 2021. The Tide has a favorable effort in that regard with Kentucky (3-4), Auburn (4-2), and Arkansas (3-4) left on the regular schedule and a looming reschedule with the LSU Tigers (2-3.)
Waddle fractured his ankle on the opening kickoff against the Tennessee Volunteers. Until that point, Waddle was on a career-year pace, with 25 receptions for 557 yards and seven touchdowns through four games. In each of the games he finished, Waddle recorded at least five receptions for 120 yards, with at least one reception of over 45 yards.
Although Alabama has made do against less-than-elite competition since his previously believed season-ending injury, Waddle's return to the team would be welcome by all. As was detailed by the team and fans the day of and following his injury, Waddle is a team favorite that provides an extra, unique spark to an already explosive offensive attack.
Thankfully for Alabama fans and his Crimson Tide teammates, Waddle hasn't declared for the draft or signed with an agent. Though it would have been against tradition, Waddle is still considered a top-10 selection by most NFL Draft analysts and would have surprised no one to have made the leap ahead of time. Having chosen to prolong that decision, Waddle remains in play to return.
Though his services would certainly come in handy in the presumed SEC Championship matchup against the equally talented offense of the Florida Gators, Waddle's progression less than two months from the College Football Playoff will no doubt be a boost for Alabama. With teams like Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson, Florida and BYU all making strong bids to be among the final four vying for a National Championship, speed and the ability to score from anywhere on the field will be vital for the Crimson Tide.