Stuart McNair

Hale Hentges has most experience in Alabama tight end corps

Fourth in a series looking at Alabama positions prior to spring practice

Where to start with an examination of Alabama’s tight end position? First of all, there are two positions, the traditional on-line tight end (Y) and the tight end in the slot (H). Second, the Crimson Tide has lost one of the most talented players in the nation at that position with O.J. Howard (who played primarily at H) moving on to a likely NFL team. Finally, the tight ends will be coached by a new man this year, the third tight ends coach in three years, with Joe Pannunzio returning to the Crimson Tide.
Prior to last season, the tight ends had been coached by Bobby Williams, who also served as special teams coordinator. Last year the tight ends were handled by Mario Cristobal, who also coached offensive tackles. Pannunzio, like Williams, will also serve as special teams coordinator (though there is the possibility teams will be allowed to add a 10th assistant coach, and Tide Coach Nick Saban has indicated in the past he would use that added position for special teams).
This is part of a series looking at all Alabama positions prior to the start of spring drills.
While it’s true that Bama has two tight end positions, when the Tide uses a  two tight end formation, the H is often used as one of the two on-line Y tight ends. In addition to Howard, the Tide also lost Brandon Greene to graduation and Greene played both as a second tight end and offensive lineman in his Alabama career.
Very little tight end experience and depth returns for the Tide for spring practice.
Alabama does return the nominal starter at Y in junior Hale Hentges (6-5, 256). Although he started only a handful of games because the Tide sometimes opened games with three wide receivers (plus Howard), he was listed as No. 1 and played in every game, substantially in most. What Hentges did not do was catch many passes — 1 for 5 yards as a freshman in 2015 and 3 for 10 yards last season.
Sophomore Irv Smith, Jr., (6-4, 235), was a backup at tight end last year. He did not play in the first month of the season, but saw action in all subsequent games until the two College Football Playoff contests. He did not have a pass reception.
Miller Forristall (6-5, 225, sophomore) was Howard’s back-up at H last year and is expected to be the leader at the position this spring.  He played in every game and started two — the season opener against Southern Cal and the Southeastern Conference Championship Game against Florida. His first catch at Alabama against USC went for 32 yards and he also had a reception for 22 yards in Bama’s touchdown drive in a tough win over LSU. For the year he had 5 catches for 73 yards.
The only scholarshipped player behind Forristall this spring barring some unforeseen position change is Major Tennison (6-6, 240). As Forristall in 2016, Tennison is an early enrollee freshman. The four-star prospect was ranked the No. 10 tight end prospect in the nation.
Non-scholarshipped tight end prospects expected to participate in spring practice are sophomore Cam Stewart (6-8, 254), senior Hunter Bryant (6-5, 226), and senior Jacob Parker (6-1, 222).
Although a starting date for Alabama spring practice has not yet been announced, it is expected to begin after the completion of The University’s spring break, which is March 11-19. The A-Day Game will be April 22.


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