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2019 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Preview: Tight Ends

There’s a lot of production and experience to replace, but the cupboard is not bare.

NCAA Football: The Citadel at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Only two tight ends caught a pass last season; and both of them - Irv Smith Jr. and Hale Hentges - are gone. The current tight end corps has a combined 8 career receptions. So it’s fair to say this group is a bit unproven. Still, there’s plenty of talent in the group.

The Likely Starter

Miller Forristall: Forristall flashed as a freshman but suffered an ACL injury in Week 3 of his sophomore year. He returned in 2018, but Irv Smith and Hale Hentges cemented themselves as starters ahead of him. Now, Forristall is almost two years removed from that injury; and the depth chart is clear ahead of him. He only has 6 career receptions for 85 yards, but expect that number to dramatically rise. While he was sidelined for a bit of fall camp with a foot injury, he has consistently been with the first team when healthy.

The Other Returning Guys

Major Tennison: He has the second-most returning production among the tight ends: a whopping 2 catches for 30 yards back in 2017. Tennison played sparingly in five games as a true freshman. With numerous guys ahead of him in 2018 (and with an offseason arrest for marijuana possession on his record), the staff played him in just four games to preserve another year of eligibility for him.

Cameron Latu: Latu came to Tuscaloosa as four star defensive end/outside linebacker. He saw action in the first two games in 2018 as a back-up linebacker, notching one tackle and one quarterback hurry. The staff converted him to tight end this spring, however, with less depth at the position; and Latu, who was an incredibly athletic recruit as Brent noted at the time, did well enough to make the move permanent. As you can see, Brent also gave us a little foreshadowing by mentioning his history at tight end. Latu hauled in a two catches for 37 yards at A Day.

Giles Amos: The 6’4, 245lb senior tight end is no longer a walk-on now. Amos managed to work his way onto the field against Louisiana-Lafayette and Mercer last year. This fall, he reportedly saw time with the first team in the first scrimmage and even scored a touchdown.

Michael Parker: The redshirt freshman from Huntsville, Alabama, listed at 6’6, 216lbs, did not see any playing time last year. Parker has generally been near the back of the tight end line this fall.

The New Guys

Jahleel Billingsley: The first recruit from Illinois for Bama in at least 20 years, Billingsley arrived on campus in the summer. Since we haven’t seen much of him, I’ll once again turn to Brent’s excellent Meet the New Guys series (seriously, if you’re not reading these when he posts them after Signing Day, you’re missing out):

First and foremost is that Billingsley is excellent in space. Though a tight end, his team made it a point to throw plenty of screen passes to him as well as use him regularly as a wildcat QB. He runs with a lot of power and doesn’t mind lowering his shoulder to bowl over someone trying to tackle him, but he is also fast enough beat someone to the sidelines and stiff arm them down as he goes by. He’s also great at using his 6’4” length to fall forward while being tackled to gain an extra couple of yards.

Richard Hunt: Is the 6’7 walk-on going to factor into the rotation this year? Almost assuredly no. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include him because of that awesome hair.

Hunt played just one year of high school football and obviously has great size, so there is some upside. I just wouldn’t expect it this year.

Projected Depth Chart

First team: Miller Forristall, Major Tennison

Second team: Cameron Latu, Giles Amos

Third team: Jahleel Billingsley, Michael Parker

Forristall and Tennison should be the main two guys to start the year; and I’m expecting Forristall to soak up most of the targets while Tennison is more of the blocking guy like Hentges was. It will be interesting to see how Latu and Billingsley look, as they both have high ceilings.