tuscaloosa, wing. — The ideal college football offense is a variety of returning talents who understand the ins and outs of the playbook and can execute any scheme without hesitation.
With that, the relationship between the quarterback and the wide receiver trio is paramount, with the goal being for both position groups to understand each other.
Prior to this season, Alabama had to start that relationship from scratch when the Crimson Tide lost Jameson Williams, John Metchie III and Slade Bolden to the NFL. While losing 217 combined receptions for 3,122 yards and 26 touchdowns from the aforementioned trio hurt last season, rebuilding that chemistry is a tough process.
On Monday, returning quarterback Bryce Young spoke about that process and how his relationship has developed with the new trio of starting wide receivers: Jermaine Burton, Traeshon Holden and Kobe Prentice.
“We’ve got new faces coming in and we’ve had a few opportunities where some guys are taking on different roles,” Young said. “But at the same time, there will be some growing pains. You’re not going to look the way you want to look on the first day of spring dance or the first day of fall camp, but it’s a process. … it’s just knowing that it’s going to be a process.”
holden is the most experienced of the trio with 21 receptions for 239 yards and a touchdown in 2021. the youngster was originally assigned to pair with jojo earle, who caught 16 receptions for 148 yards but suffered a broken foot early. at fall camp and will be away for six to eight weeks.
Last season, holden saw most of his production between the numbers and, given his 6-foot-3 height, he’ll likely be a target there again. According to Pro Football Focus, Holden saw 12 targets between zero and 9 yards and received an 89.3 rating among the numbers at that distance.
“I just saw steady growth,” Young said. “She has been working very, very hard. someone who worked hard during his time here. It hasn’t been her time the last few years, but not everyone sees what happens during the week, but the last two years that she’s been here she’s been working day in and day out. has grown feels like every practice. and then in the offseason, he’s been really taking a leadership role and being the guy who’s been here the longest, knowing all of this.”
with holden’s main workload being short routes, alabama needed to find receivers who could break up big plays. The Crimson Tide caught two transfer portal receivers in Jermaine Burton and Tyler Harrell. Burton was given the go-ahead to start Harrell again in Week 1 as the Georgia transfer has a more varied route arsenal than he showed with the Bulldogs last season.
The youth saw more than 65% of his goals from 10 yards or more, adding 17 receptions for 437 yards and four touchdowns, according to pro football focus. he also rated 80-plus in all areas of the field beyond 10 yards. Along with his explosiveness, Burton also has a relationship with youth, as both players met while playing high school football in California.
“Obviously, how explosive it was was what really blew it up,” Young said. “On the field, he’s always giving it his all: finishing routes, finishing plays. it’s super competitive. he is willing to run any route, play any role and is not selfish at all. those things definitely made it into the movie and now that you get to see him in practice, you get to be around him, it makes a lot of sense why he was able to be as successful as he is, and I’m really excited to keep seeing him.”
The trio is rounded out by a real first-year trainee, who benefitted the most from Earle’s injury. The former four-star athlete and his rival’s 250th prospect caught 41 passes for 711 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior at Calera High School. He posted 4.38 on his 40-yard dash at Alabama prospect camp in 2021 and will look to use that speed in the slot to punch holes in the defense.
young completed 104 “pop” passes: throws right at the line of scrimmage. With the trainee’s cunning and quickness, he gives the reigning Heisman Trophy winner a weapon to carve defenses out from under him.
“obviously made its way to the depth chart. I think it’s just that will to work. comes every day with a great attitude and a great mindset. he is always energetic. it’s easy for everyone to work with and bounce back. just the will to work, and obviously the talent and athleticism that he brings to the field.”