Making Sense of the Agiye Hall Situation
It's almost never a good thing when backups become storylines. Truthfully, we'd all like to see the conversation in the Alabama Crimson Tide receiving corps surround John Metchie and his impactful performances, Jameson Williams and his rising draft stock or who in this group will step up behind them and start making some plays for Bryce Young.
Instead, a lot of focus has been directed toward a 5-star freshman whose on-field presence has been null and void since A Day.
During the spring showcase, Hall caught 4 passes for 72 yards and wowed fans with his athleticism and catching radius.
After the game, Saban talked about Hall and his performance, acknowledging his athleticism while conservatively sticking to the route that Hall still had much to learn.
"Like any player, when they’re not sure of what they’re doing, they make a lot of mistakes," Saban said after A Day. "He's someone we think has a lot of potential."
Saban didn't sound overly impressed then and he certainly doesn't seem impressed now. And while the coach didn't want to disclose the full details of the situation with Hall, he didn't refuse to answer Bama Insider reporter Tony Tsoukalas's question after Alabama's 52-28 victory over Tennessee, a game which Hall didn't dress for.
"You know, what we do with our players on our team is really kind of our business," Saban said. "We're encouraging guys to do the right thing whether it's personally, academically — aight, we've protocols that when guys miss so many things, you know they don't get to play in the game. That's always been our rule out here.
"So I'm not going to disclose, and I don't think it's anybody's business when we're trying to get players to do the right thing, and we use playing time and opportunities in football to try to get them to do the right thing personally and academically. So that's basically all I got to say about that."
But, we already know that Hall didn't suit up and that his status with the team isn't where anyone would like it to be. That's all old news.
Hall's responses, they're also old news.
How about some liked tweets by Hall:
Here's the thing: Hall is entitled to believe he's good enough to play on a team that only gets reliable production from two receivers and has seen discipline issues from two veterans in Javon Baker and Xavier Williams, the latter of which isn't with the team this season.
For what it's worth, Hall liked the tweets that mentioned what Saban said postgame, but the meaning could be more ambiguous than merely agreeing with his coach.
That said, Saban is in the right to expect his players to meet all of their expectations off the field and on the whiteboard before practice -- not simply skate by because they can big boy every cornerback in the continental U.S.
The fault lies on both ends, but both ends are entitled to view things the way they do, which leads to a frustrating stalemate between the two parties.
Still, Hall could see he's not the only freshman wide receiver seeing a lack of targets or even route opportunities. JoJo Earle burst onto the scene early, but he hasn't caught a pass in weeks, Christian Leary is playing emergency running back and Ja'Corey Brooks is strictly a special teams player at the moment. Hall isn't alone.
However, Bryce Young needs targets. Jahleel Billingsley has a case of the drops, Slade Bolden isn't a playmaker, and Traeshon Holden has yet to show he's the impact player that can turn things around late in the position.
Hall only has one reception for 10 yards. That was Week 1 against Miami, which for Hall must feel like an eternity ago. And so, the struggle has gotten to the point where egos are involved and everyone is frustrated with the situation, including those watching events unfold.
The truth is the writing may have been on the wall a long time ago when Hall was given the number 84 after a bout of musical chairs between him and quarterbacks Paul Tyson and Jalen Milroe. Ask yourself when the last wide receiver to wear a number higher than 19 made an impact for the Crimson Tide?
Regardless of who's in the right (and let's be honest, it's probably the head coach of the best college football program over the past 15 years) the result of the current turmoil rests in the hands of Hall.
There are many different routes he can take, but the one that keeps him in crimson may be the toughest. That's admitting Saban stands between him and the field and appeasing the man is the path to getting between the lines and making plays.
It's clear Hall values his talents quite highly, and for damned good reason. There's no doubt Hall would like to be one of the next wide receivers from Alabama lighting up the NFL. But for others to see his talent is the only way to garner the rewards of his talents. Hall, whether he likes it or not, will have to be the one to stand down and see where Saban is coming from if he is to stay in Tuscaloosa.
Like Saban said early last week, "If you don’t create any value for Alabama, you don’t create any value for yourself..."