By the (star) numbers: WRs, TEs

This week we're going through every position and analyzing the accuracy of Scout.com's star ratings on Alabama's actual performance at that position. Up next: tight ends and wide receivers. Again these stories are about players who have already seen time on the field.

Wide receivers:

Christion Jones – three-star

DeAndrew White – four-star

Kenny Bell – four-star

Kevin Norwood – three-star

Chris Black – four-star

Amari Cooper – four-star

Tight ends:

Harrison Jones – three-star

Malcolm Faciane – three-star

Michael Williams – four-star

Brian Vogler – three-star

Heading into the spring, all wide receiver jobs were open. And technically, they still are, as we won't know the logistics of Alabama's depth chart until the season gets closer.

But with the loss of Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks, and the addition of new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who will catch A.J. McCarron's passes this fall?

Kevin Norwood, who, after his performance in the national championship game last January, has and is likely to exceed his three-star rating by Scout.com. He has the most experience—last year he had 11 receptions for 190 yards (averaged about 17 yards per catch). He has shown flashes, most notably in the BCS title game when he came in for an injured Maze and had four catches for 78 yards, including an impressive leaping grab over LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu for 26 yards.

Now a junior, Norwood has learned what the coaches want, having learned from a few mentors—he's played behind Julio Jones, Maze and Hanks in his three years.

Of all returning receivers, Kenny Bell had the second-most touches last season, grabbing seven balls for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He's a consistent playmaker and if the spring is any indication (five catches for 86 yards and a touchdown in the A-Day game), then he and Norwood will be a nice first-team tandem.

Behind Norwood waits Christion Jones—who played as a true freshman last year (three receptions for 49 yards) and has good chemistry with McCarron (in the spring game he had three catches for 48 yards and a touchdown)—and early enrollees Chris Black (three catches for 61 yards and a 44-yard touchdown reception in the spring game) and Amari Cooper.

And then explosive DeAndrew White (14 catches—six were for first downs—for 151 yards and two touchdowns as a redshirt freshman last year) and Marvin Shinn are behind Bell.

As far as the tight end position goes, Michael Williams, a two-year starter who had 16 receptions for 191 yards and two touchdowns last season, is back for his senior season. Williams is one of the Tides' best blockers off the edge and his experience will be beneficial for an otherwise younger backfield.

There's a battle to replace Brad Smelley between Brian Vogler, a 6-foot-7, 258-pound beast who was a backup last season and Harrison Jones, Barrett Jones' little brother, who caught eyes this spring. The depth chart also includes Malcolm Faciane, a freshman with impressive size (6-5, 259), hands and speed.

Overall, the group is solid, living up to and in some cases, surpassing their star ratings. The key for the receivers will be filling the voids left by the long-gone veterans, but with the way they performed in the national championship and this spring, the Tide is looking good.


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