UA Receiving Corps Needs Rebuilding
It matters not a great deal to the 2012 Alabama football team where Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze are drafted. It can't help but be noticed, though, that Maze was the Crimson Tide's leading receiver in 2011 with 56 catches for 627 yards (11.2 yards per catch). Adding in that second leading receiver H-back Brad Smelley (34 receptions, 356 yards) and third tailback Trent Richardson (29-338), and fourth Hanks (26-328) are all gone.
In addition to Maze and Hanks, Alabama loses one other senior wide receiver in Brandon Gibson, who had 14 receptions for 140 yards.
Alabama will have 15 days of practice, including three scrimmage days, in March and April. The third and final scrimmage will be the public A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Practice is tentatively scheduled to begin Friday, March 9, the day before the start of spring break. The second practice will be the day after spring break, Monday, March 19. The A-Day Game will begin at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday, April 14, and will be televised by CSS.
One of the important aspects will be rebuilding the wide receiver corps. This is one in a series looking at various positions prior to the start of spring practice.
Events of the BCS National Championship Game, played essentially without Maze after his sparkling 49-yard punt return to set up Bama's first score, are heartening.
The BCS game offered particular opportunities for upcoming junior Kevin Norwood (6-1, 193) and soph Christion Jones (5-11, 175). Norwood came into the game with six receptions for 90 yards in the first 12 games of the year. In the 21-0 win over LSU in the BCS Championship Game, Norwood had four catches for 78 yards. It was noteworthy that he had his field day against LSU's acclaimed cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
The 49-yard punt return by Maze was the longest allowed by LSU all year. The second longest was by the man who replaced Maze as punt and kickoff return man, Christion Jones. Jones had a 15-yard punt runback and was also a cool customer in making some pressure fair catches deep in Tide territory. He also had a 32-tyard kickoff return on LSU's lone kickoff of the game, starting the Tide on its way to a field goal to start the second half. During the year, Jones had three receptions for 49 yards.
Kenny Bell, a 6-1, 175-pound junior, had big moments in his sophomore season, including long touchdown receptions against Tennessee (39 yards) and Auburn (41 yards). He added on reception on a quick screen in the BCS Championship Game, which he ran for 26 yards. For the season Bell had 17 catches for 255 yards.
DeAndrew White, a 6-0, 181-pound sophomore, obviously caught the eye of Alabama coaches during the season. He had a couple of starts and was a regular throughout the season, finishing with 15 receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Both TDs came against Vanderbilt, and included one eye-catching leap and grab. White, too, was used on punt and kickoff returns in 2011.
A big question mark at wide receiver is the status of Duron Carter, the former starter at Ohio State who went to junior college before transferring to Alabama for fall camp last August. Carter, last listed at 6-4, 210, did not play last year, which should be a redshirt season for him, making him a junior...if he is on the team. The reason that is a question mark is because he did not participate in practices for the BCS National Championship Game and Coach Nick Saban elected to not answer questions regarding Carter's status.
Three freshmen signees for 2011 were redshirted (and that doesn't include Bradley Sylve, who was signed as a wide receiver, but who has made the transition to cornerback, where he will participate this spring).
Redshirt freshmen who will be taking advantage of the spring practice opportunity are Marvin Shinn, a 6-3, 193-pounder from Vigor of Prichard, and Danny Woodson, Jr., 6-1, 205, from Mobile LeFlore. Both were ranked among the nation's top 30 wide receiver pospects in the recruiting class of 2011.
Eight members of the recruiting class of 2012 are already enrolled at Alabama. They include two wide receiver prospects – Chris Black, 6-0, 175, of Jacksonville, Fla., and Amari Cooper, 6-2, 180, of Miami. Both are ranked as four-star wide receivers by Scout.com.
This is one in a series looking as Alabama football positions prior to the start of spring football practice.
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