Lethal Weapon 3 is not a new nickname, but it seems an apt moniker for Alabama wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, and DeVonta Smith who burst on to the college football scene as true freshmen in 2017. As a trio, they accumulated only 34 receptions for 653 yards but found the end zone 11 times and averaged 19.2 yards per reception. While teammate Calvin Ridley got most of the quarterback attention last season (63 rec, 967 yds, 5 TD), this troika got plenty of attention themselves.
With Ridley now taking snaps on Sundays, this trio of pass catchers will take the spotlight. But will one of them distance himself from the others and become that Julio Jones/Amari Cooper/Calvin Ridley alpha dog? There is no easy answer.
The Crimson Tide has many formations in the offensive playbook. One of the most popular one is the 11 Personnel which means 1 running back, 1 tight end and the rest (three) are receivers. In 2017, that package was WR-H (slot) Cam Sims, WR-Z (wideout) Ridley, and WR-X (wideout) Robert Foster. In 2018, it will likely be WR-H Jerry Jeudy, WR-Z Henry Ruggs, WR-X DeVonta Smith.
In addition, the Tide could employ four receiver packages with no back or no tight end, or even an empty package of five receivers. Did you ever think you would see the day that the Tide lined up 4 receivers? The Tide did just that times several times in 2017, often times with the three freshmen joining Ridley.
If history is any indication, that fourth receiver in 2018 will likely start out as senior Derek Kief. But imagine the three sophomores lined up with Tyrell Shavers, Jaylen Waddle or even Xavier Williams.
DEVONTA SMITH 8 REC, 160 YDS, 20.0 AVG, 3 TD
The X receiver is almost always the split end who is the widest receiver opposite from the tight end. He is basically tethered to the line of scrimmage and cannot go in motion. Because of this, the X is often jammed at the line of scrimmage and will need that elusiveness to get out of being stalled in his route. The X is often the fastest guy on the team. Smith will have many options to run fly patterns for big plays.
HENRY RUGGS 12 REC, 229 YDS, 19.1 AVG, 6 TD
In the ye olden days, the Z was called a flanker. He is also a wideout most often opposite the X. Depending on the presence of a tight end, he will either be on the line or a step back. In the two-back run-first-run-second-pass-if-you-hafta offenses of yesteryear, these player would often line up in the slot next to linemen much like the H-back of today. In today’s offenses, they are almost exclusively split out wide. Many times, the slot receiver will be on the other side leaving the Z in one-on-one coverage. Ruggs was no stranger to the end zone last season, scoring touchdowns on his first five career receptions.
JERRY JEUDY 14 REC, 264 YDS, 18.9 AVG, 2 TD
The H receiver is basically a slot receiver. He can line-up almost anywhere but usually inside the X or Z, a few steps off the line of scrimmage. They are good for quick slants and combing routes with other receivers to cross up a defense. Jeudy caught the most passes of the three and had the second most receiving yards of any Tide player in 2017. Jeudy was the first freshman receiver to see significant playing time and was the highest rated Tide WR of the Class of 2017.
Of course all these players will line up all over the field making it difficult to nail down exactly what they do in a four sentence summary.
- Xavian Marks, SR
- Derek Kief, RS SR
- Chadarius Townsend, RS FR
- Tyrell Shavers, RS FR
- Jaylen Waddle, FR
- Xavier Williams, FR
Who will be the Crimson Tide’s leading receiver in 2018?
This poll is closed