Crimson Tide Position Preview: Wide Receivers
Each week leading up to Alabama's A-Day game, I will highlight two position groups and preview both the presumed starters and key depth pieces, as well as players that could challenge for a starting role this season. Today, we take a look at this year's crop of wideouts.
Traeshon Holden, WR-Z
Traeshon Holden enters his junior year with his first real chance to see significant playing time. The former four-star out of California, in 20 appearances over two seasons, compiled 21 receptions for 239 yards and a score, with his biggest performance coming against Mississippi State in 2021 where he hauled in three passes for 70 yards and his lone touchdown. Standing at 6-foot-3, 214 lbs., Holden is a lengthy target with a great catch radius that should impress this spring.
While the junior wideout is expected to start in the A-Day game, Ja'Corey Brooks, a former five-star out of IMG Academy, will likely assume the starting role in the fall.
Jermaine Burton, WR-X
Former Georgia Bulldog Jermaine Burton joined the Crimson Tide this offseason following Alabama's loss in the national title game to his now former team. The former four-star also hails from California and features a build very similar to that of Bryce Young's most reliable target a year ago, John Metchie III. While Burton lacks the outright speed of a player like Jameson Williams, he is a reliable target that plays with a lot of toughness and physicality and should fill the role of Metchie well.
Burton caught just 26 passes for 497 yards in 14 games in 2021, but was widely under-utilized in Georgia's antiquated offense. With a chance to flourish in a system where he has a quarterback that can effectively deliver him the ball, expect Burton to have a huge season.
JoJo Earle, WR-H
JoJo Earle, lauded by many as the Tide's next Jaylen Waddle, entered his freshman season in 2021 with big expectations, but somewhat underperformed. Hailing from Texas, like Waddle, and featuring speed similar to that of the Tide's former most dangerous weapon, Earle struggled to find his place early in the season and sustained an injury that sidelined him for most of the back end of the year. In his time on the field, as both as return specialist and receiver, Earle showed flashes of what he did in his high school days, but never put it together consistently.
With a fresh chance to solidify himself as Alabama's slot receiver this spring, Earle should be able to embrace the expectations and cement his spot for the fall.
Agiye Hall, WR-Z
Agent X is a perfectly fitting nickname for a very puzzling piece of Alabama's receiving core. Agiye Hall, the former four-star out of Florida, put up a massive performance in the 2021 A-Day game, leading to equally as massive expectations on the freshman wideout. In his seven appearances in 2021; however, Hall managed just four catches for 72 yards, and floundered in the biggest game of the year, dropping two crucial passes against Georgia that could have changed the outcome of the game.
Entering the spring with a fresh start is a great opportunity for Hall to reclaim the hype surrounding him from this time last year, and he should do just that. Look for Hall to have another big performance in the A-Day game, but, this year, carry it into the fall.
Thaiu Jones-Bell, WR-X
Thaiu Jones-Bell enters his junior season, but has been unable to find his way onto the field in his first two years outside of a handful of snaps in mop-up duty. The Hallandale, FL native, with Brooks being out for the spring, should see an excellent opportunity to potentially challenge for a spot in the rotation. Jones-Bell, standing at six feet tall, 190 lbs., also features a build reminiscent of Metchie but also has great speed and can excel on the outside.
While he could potentially see significant snaps in the A-Day game, Jones-Bell will likely return to his role as a reserve receiver this fall once Brooks returns to the lineup.
Christian Leary, WR-H
Hailing from Orlando, FL, former four-star Christian Leary is another extremely speedy wideout for the Tide and could push Earle for reps this spring. In 2021, as a freshman, Leary was mainly used on special teams, but made the move to running back late in the season when Alabama needed depth following a few key injuries. Now, with a chance to return to his position, Leary should be able to really display his strengths in the open field.
Earle will most likely retain the starting job heading into fall, but Leary should see significant reps in relief of his fellow sophomore.
Aaron Anderson, an incoming freshman out of New Orleans, flipped his commitment from LSU to join the Crimson Tide and is one of the most exciting prospects to join the team this offseason. While he may not be expected to see much time this season, the former four-star could certainly push the envelope and find himself on the field sooner than later. Anderson was a track athlete in high school and features blazing speed that could provide immediate impact this season.
Another extremely exciting incoming freshman for Alabama, Kendrick Law played multiple positions in high school on both sides of the ball and displayed his incredible athleticism week in, week out. Like Anderson, Law was also a track athlete and features great speed and separation ability. While Anderson is unlikely to see many snaps as a wideout this year, the Shreveport native could be a special teams star.
Out for Spring
Ja'Corey Brooks, the savior of last season's the Iron Bowl, is out for the spring, but should still remain high on the depth chart for the fall. The former five star showed flashes of excellence last season, but was unable to put it together consistently on the big stage in the title game. With an entire other offseason under his belt, expect Brooks to have a huge sophomore year and out up big time numbers.