Alabama will have two new wide receivers for the 2016 season, including one who is taking part in spring practice. T.J. Simmons of Pinson was an early enrollee and will take part in spring practice beginning next month. Trevon Diggs, the other signee, will arrive in the summer.
Wide receiver is a position that is, traditionally, one in which freshmen can often earn playing time, and even excel. Consider Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, and, most recently, Calvin Ridley at Alabama.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban hasn’t ruled out the possibility of adding another wide receiver. The Tide coach said, “We would have liked to have added another receiver to this group. That was our goal. Sometimes you don't meet your goal in terms of numbers, but we were certainly pleased with the two players (Trevon Diggs and T.J. Simmons) we were able to get at that position.”
Saban said his staff continues to look at players who didn’t sign in February, and said there is also the chance of getting a graduate transfer. Alabama certainly had good luck with a graduate transfer last season when Richard Mullaney came in after his Oregon career. As Bama’s starting slot receiver, Mullaney tied O.J. Howard for third in the number of receptions at 38 and converted them into 390 yards and 5 touchdowns.
“It seems with these graduate transfers, just looking at the history of it, there seems like there are more skill guys, receivers, running backs that do that type of things. So we'll probably be on the lookout for the next best player we can find, whether it's somebody that didn't sign on signing day or someone who is out there looking for an opportunity."
Saban was complimentary of the two wide receivers who joined the Tide in this recruiting class. He said, "T.J.'s (T.J. Simmons) a guy that has really good size, he's from here in the state, he's been very productive at a very successful program, he's a mid-year guy and he's probably going to be an outside guy for us. We're excited that he's in our program. Trevon Diggs is a very, very talented guy. He's got size and is very, very athletic, got speed, really good hands. So I think he's one of those guys that we thought could potentially be a really, really good player if he can develop and do the things he needs to do to continue to improve."
Simmons, 6-2, 195, from Clay-Chalkville High School, was a four-star prospect ranked as the nation’s 48th wide receiver and best in Alabama. He was named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association Super 12 team. As a senior he had 47 receptions for 1,228 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also had a rushing TD and returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. He selected Alabama over Mississippi State and Cincinnati.
Diggs, 6-2, 185, played at The Avalon School in Gaithersburg, Md. He is considered an “athlete” by Scout.com, which ranked him the number one player in that category the Eastern half of the United States. Scout had him as a four-star player who ranks 11th among “athletes” nationwide and 115th in the Scout 300 regardless of position. He participated in Nike’s The Opening. As a junior, he caught 78 passes for 1,008 yards and 15 touchdowns, and was two-time All-Met receiver by the Washington Post. His brother, Stefon Diggs, starred at Maryland and now plays for the Minnesota Vikings. He selected Alabama over Georgia, Auburn, Maryland, LSU, and Tennessee.