IT’S HAPPENING! As each day flips on the calendar with no signs of the Apocalypse, the 2020 SEC football season creeps closer to its fruition. Thus, your humble servants of RollBamaRoll will slave over their Commodore 64s to bring you the Crimson Tide Position Previews for 2020.
First up is tight end. The position has been de-emphasized as of late but should garner more importance this season and beyond. With Alabama possessing perhaps the greatest quartet of college wide receivers of all time over the last couple of seasons, tight end was not an important skill position. With half of that quartet gone to the NFL, this unit will be expected to step up this fall when it comes to pass catching.
Giles Amos - The former walk-on is the only tight end departure from the team. After four years on the roster, he earned a scholarship during 2019 fall camp (likely due to attrition) and looked like he would be promoted to regular on-field contributor. He saw action in nine games,but never made a big impact. He has since grad-transferred to Arkansas State where he will be reunited with former Tide QB Layne Hatcher.
The good news is that Bama has several tight ends returning. For the first time in awhile, the position has some real depth.
87 Miller Forristall (6'5"/244 lbs) Redshirt Senior - It feels like the Cartersville, Ga. native has been around for a decade. He actually signed with Bama in the same class with Irv Smith Jr. Unlike Smith, Forristall played in all 15 games his freshman year and had a HUGE catch against LSU that got the Tide out of a deep hole that led to the only touchdown of the game. His second season was cut short after just three games due to a knee injury. He did not record a catch the next season - as Smith blew onto the scene and became All-SEC - but he did participate in all 15 games. With Smith and Hale Hentges moving on to the NFL, Forristall took charge of the position last season, collecting 15 receptions for 167 yards and four scores - three of which were in the red zone and the other being from 27 yards out. He has proven to have a knack for disguising his blocking only to slip out into the flats to get open. He is a team leader and will likely be named a team captain.
88 Major Tennison (6’5”/252 lbs) Redshirt Junior - Right behind Forristall in longevity is this Texan who has also seen his fair share of setbacks. Tennison was expected to redshirt his freshman year but was pressed into service due to Forristall’s season-ending injury in 2017. He saw time in five games as a freshman with two cupcake receptions (vs. Vandy, Mercer) but followed it up with an pot possession arrest in January. He played in four games in 2018 with no catches and was redshirted. The following spring, the tight end was showing improvement before an injury got the better of him and he again fell behind. He still found plenty of playing time last season participating in all 13 games and even collecting his first touchdown against Duke. Tennison is up four pounds from a year ago and is a solid blocker.
19 Jahleel Billingsley (6’4”/230) In just his first year on campus, this rising true sophomore showed some flashes of speed and agility that conjured up fond memories of O.J. Howard and Irv Smith Jr. He won many new fans when he caught a pass against Mississippi State for 19-yard gain before trucking an unfortunate Bulldog defender. He also hauled in a pass in the Citrus Bowl. Many observers expect a breakout season for Billingsley this fall.
81 Cameron Latu (6’5”/250) came to Alabama from Salt Lake City as one of the top weakside defensive ends in the country in the 2018 signing class. He took a redshirt as a freshman and transitioned to tight end this past season while participating in 11 games - mostly on special teams coverage where he excels. Still just a redshirt sophomore, Latu has a chance to develop into a pass-catching threat. His immense size and long frame could make for a nightmare match-up against most defenders.
80 Michael Parker (6’6”/232) Redshirt Sophomore - The Huntsville native saw his first game action against Western Carolina last season. He has put on 16 pounds since last season.
86 Carl Tucker (6’2”/248 lbs) Graduate Senior - One of the most under-the-radar moves of the off-season was Alabama acquiring the grad-transfer of this woefully underutilized tight end from UNC. In four seasons with the Tar Heels, Tucker compiled 549 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 36 receptions but only five catches for 54 yards under Mack Brown in his inaugural season in Chapel Hill. He has had injuries in past seasons but that was the knock on Landon Dickerson before arriving at the Capstone as well. Tucker is a wide body with toughness and good physicality. He has potential for a big senior campaign at the Capstone and has been named to the 2020 John Mackey Watch List for the top tight end in the nation.
Incoming freshman Caden Clark will take a greyshirt this season and enroll in January as he continues to recover from ACL surgery.
In recent seasons, Alabama has given reserve offensive linemen a jersey number in the 80s to act primarily as blocking tight ends on short yardage and goal line situations (and occasionally catch-em-off-guard plays). Kendall Randolph held that distinction last season donning both 85 and 60, participating in all 13 games. As of now, the redshirt junior is sticking to the lower jersey number but he is available at tight end should the need arise. Center Chris Owens could also fill that role, but he would be a Plan D.
As mentioned above, the tight end position should be more involved in the passing offense this season due to the loss of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs (This year’s WR corps is still strong but let’s be real. It’s not as good as the GOAT4). However, Alabama seems intent on feeding Najee Harris the rock a great deal this fall. That would likely mean a lot of Jumbo Packages.
Forristall will be the starter followed by Tennison early on. Tucker and Billingsley will see increased playing time as the season rolls along. With the Tide playing an SEC team every week, all of these tight ends should get plenty of snaps.
How are you feeling about this tight end unit?
This poll is closed
I love this group. They are ready to contribute.
They are good but need to step up.
They are okay but could be a problem.
I am very concerned about this group. (if you don’t see my explanation in comments below, I am probably a troll).
Check out all 2020 Position Previews.