No one could blame Alabama sophomore receiver Calvin Ridley if he came into his second college season a little cocky. For many people, 1,045 yard and seven scores on 89 catches for a national title team could do that. Not so for Ridley, who spoke to reporters Sunday as part of Alabama’s Media Day.
Ridley and other Crimson Tide offensive players commented on this year’s potential.
“You’ve got so many players on this team that’s good on this receiver corps that everybody humbles you to just go out there every day to work hard to be a better player,” Ridley said. “If you don’t you’ve got a lot of guys that will.”
Asked about yet another quarterback battle, Ridley replied like a man who has been well-coached on and off the field.
“I know our coaches are really smart, and they’re going to put the best guy out there for us,” Ridley said of the battle between Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett and Jalen Hurts. “We’re not really worried about who’s going to be the quarterback this year.”
Ridley and a fellow receiver both had high praise for Bowling Green transfer Gehrig Dieter.
Said Ridley: “Oh, he’s a very good player. He reminds me of (2015 transfer Richard) Mullaney a little bit. He’s faster than I thought he would be. He’s got great hands, and he’s a great route runner. He could probably take Mullaney in the 40 (-yard dash).”
Added Rob Foster: “I’ve seen consistency (from Dieter). He’s a very consistent player. He works hard. He’s willing to work, and he’s willing to help us out. I feel like he’s going to be a real good play-maker for us.”
As for his own speed, Foster said, “I feel like I’ve gotten a little bit faster, but the only reason I have is because my fellow players are pushing me to strive to be better as a receiver.
Considered by some to be the Tide’s fastest player, the now-healthy Foster said maturity has helped him on and off the field. “I’m more of a student (of the game now.),” he said. “I watch film more, I study (the playbook) more, and I take things more seriously. I do more of the little things I need to do to become a better receiver for my teammates.”
Earlier in the day, Foster’s Offensive Coordinator hinted that he has high hopes for the redshirt junior. Said Kiffin: “People forget as great as Calvin Ridley was last year, Calvin was backing up Robert until his got hurt. (Foster) started last year, scored a touchdown in the opener. He has a very special sill set as far as speed and being able to get downfield.”
As Kiffin hinted, Bama has one of, if not THE deepest and most-talented receiver groups in the land. Foster said, “I see that (too). I see that we’re going to make plays for our team. That’s what we’re meant to do. We’re a brand of brothers. We’re supposed to make plays for the team, and we’re going to take advantage of (that depth).”
Dieter said his new teammates have made him feel like a brother within the receiving corps, but he’s closest to a quarterback “I lived with David Cornwell over the summer, so I’m probably closest to David,” Dieter revealed. “And Calvin Ridley. We worked really hard together this summer, and we’re looking forward to a big season.”
One area of the Tide offense not blessed with depth or experience is the offensive line. What they are blessed with is unity among the unit.
“We’re all tight, and it’s been that way every year that I’ve come through,” said redshirt junior Bradley Bozeman, who is competing for time at right guard with suspended 2015 starter Alphonse “Shank” Taylor. “We eat together, and we hang out together every day during fall camp. It’s a grinder out here, with a 106 Heat Index and all that good stuff.”
Bozeman sees the potential and reality that true freshman Jonah Williams may be lined up at right tackle when Bama takes the field in its Dallas opener against Southern California.
“Jonah’s a good kid, and a good competitor, “said Bozeman of the 6-5, 296-pound Williams. “All our freshmen offensive lineman are working really hard, and trying to get on the field like everyone else here.
“Jonah’s just so focused on everything that he needs to do. All our freshmen are trying to get on the field, but Jonah just happens to stand out a little more.
Bozeman also talked about the transition from left guard to center that redshirt sophomore Ross Pierschbacher has made since changing over in the spring.
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“He’s doing very good in the transition, and he’s leading the team. He’s one of our major leaders on the team,” said Bozeman of his younger teammate. “He’s doing a great job.”