Jaylen Waddle Inks First Major Endorsement
After an electric college football career with the Alabama Crimson Tide that puts him in position to be a top-15 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle has earned an endorsement deal with Nike. The overwhelmingly popular, if not controversial, apparel brand announced the speedy slot receiver would be added to the "legacy" in a tweet Thursday morning.
Waddle joins Titans running back Derrick Henry and Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper on the Nike roster of Crimson Tide alumni for the NFL. Waddle is the second player to find a brand endorsement among the 2021 Crimson Tide NFL prospects, joining Najee Harris who signed with former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch's Beast Mode Marketing.
Waddle also joins rival 2021 receiver prospect Ja'Marr Chase of LSU as sponsored athletes for Nike.
Waddle joined the Crimson Tide as a 4-star wide receiver from Bellaire, Texas with the 2018 recruiting class. Despite the Crimson Tide preparing to enter the 2018 season with Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback and his receiving corp consisting of his fellow 2017 recruiting classmates Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and DeVonta Smith, Waddle worked his way into the rotation, demanding the Crimson Tide offense incorporate a fourth receiver in its gameplan.
His freshman season would be his best statistical season as a receiver, hauling in 45 receptions for 848 yards and seven touchdowns.
Waddle played three seasons in Tuscaloosa, becoming a fan favorite for his blazing speed and the invaluable trait to score from anywhere on the field at any time, no doubt traits that had Nike fall in love with him as well. In his career, Waddle caught 106 passes for 1,999 yards and 17 touchdowns. His yardage ranks him 8th all-time in Crimson Tide history while his receptions stand at 14th and his touchdowns are tide for 7th. As a punt and kick returner Waddle added 947 yards and three scores on 47 return attempts.
Despite breaking his ankle against Tennessee in 2020, Waddle returned for the College Football Playoff National Championship game against Ohio State. In that game, Waddle caught just three passes for 34 yards, but in the process picked up a crucial first down early in the contest and proved his toughness and dedication to NFL scouts.
As such, Waddle is expected to hear his name called in the top-half of the 2021 NFL Draft April 29.