The bond between quarterback and receivers started with communication and developed through on-the-field reps with more off-the-field conversation. On Saturday, we’ll see how that process worked for University of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and a receiver corps filled with newcomers and first-time contributors.
On Monday, the depth chart was released for Saturday’s opener against Utah State at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Nine players were listed at the three receiver positions. The nine players combined for 38 career catches at Alabama. Four of the players are true freshmen, and two of them also could play running back.
“I think it’s just knowing it’s going to be a process,” Young said. “We have new faces coming in. At the same time, you know there’s going to be some growing pains.”
The good news is that two of the players on the depth chart have significant college experience, just not at Alabama and not with Young. Georgia transfer Jermaine Burton had 27 catches for 404 yards with three touchdowns as a true freshman and 26 catches for 497 yards with five touchdowns for last season’s national championship team. Louisville transfer Tyler Harrell had 38 catches with 12 touchdowns in 17 games over three seasons. Last season he averaged 29.1 yards per catch.
The current starters are expected to be Burton, junior Traeshon Holden and freshman Kobe Prentice. Holden had 21 catches for 239 yards with a touchdown last season but didn’t play a featured role.
“I feel like I see steady growth,” Young said of the 6-foot-3, 214-pound Holden. “He’s been working really, really hard. He’s been working hard throughout his time here. It hasn’t been his turn the last couple of years. Not everyone has seen what’s going on throughout the week. He’s been working day in and day out, he’s grown, it seems like, every practice. In the offseason, he took the leadership role, being the guy who’s been there the longest, knowing all this stuff. Obviously, you got some new faces, (he’s) helping everyone else with knowing the offense, knowing how everything operates. I think that’s the biggest transition I’ve seen from him.”
Prentice reached the top of the depth chart at the H-receiver quickly. The 5-foot-10, 171-pound four-star receiver out of Calera High finished sixth in the Class 6A 100-meter dash last spring.
“He’s had great energy from the moment he stepped on campus,” Young said. “He’s someone who wants to work, wants to get after it, always wants to be coached. He’s worked hard. He’s been able to make some plays in practice and scrimmages. He comes in every day with a super attitude. He’s always energetic.”
The development of the receivers, as a group, helps the Crimson Tide achieve offensive balance.
“We want to take what the defense will give us,” Young said. “Obviously, everyone loves big plays, explosive plays. For us, however, we can get points on the board is what we want to do. When those big, explosive plays are there, we want to do our best to make sure we take advantage of that. If we have to take 3-4 yards (with the) run game or short passes, we need to (do that).”
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