For the first time since 2015, Alabama’s tight end room will be without Miller Forristall. A 3 star out of Georgia in the Class of 2016, he committed to the Tide in June 2015, enrolled early in January, and was a staple for the next five years.
Despite the relatively low recruiting ranking and the presence of O.J. Howard, Forristall made an impression early. He earned himself the start in the season opener against USC and wound up playing in all 15 games, also getting a start against Florida in the SEC championship. Howard garnered the lion’s share of targets among the tight ends, but the true freshman Forristall had the second-most among TEs - 5 receptions for 73 yards. It wasn’t a freshman All-American performance, but he did well enough to get me to do a film room on him during the year.
With Howard’s departure to the NFL, there was opportunity a-plenty for Forristall in 2017. He was not listed as a starter on Alabama’s initial depth chart before the opener, but he earned playing time. Unfortunately, his season was cut short with an ACL injury in the third game; and he finished the year with just 1 reception for 12 yards.
Forristall worked his way back, though, and was ready for the opening game of the 2018 season. His absence the previous year helped the emergence of fellow Class of 2016 member Irv Smith, however. And Forristall also suffered some more bad injury luck. While being barely more than a year removed from an ACL injury, he broke his ankle and played through that for five games. Forristall ended up playing in all 15 games, but he did not catch a pass.
Smith declared for the NFL draft after the 2018 season while Hale Hentges exhausted his eligibility, and those departures left Forristall as the veteran in the room. He had to fight through a broken foot in the spring, but Forristall persevered and was the unquestioned starter by the time the season began. With the best wide receiver corps in the country, the Alabama tight ends were used sparingly; but Forristall carved out a space. Through October, he had 12 receptions for 131 yards and 3 touchdowns. But, again, the injury bug struck.
Forristall broke his larynx and hyoid bone, requiring screws and plates in what could have been a much worse injury. That kept him out for the rest of the regular season, but he managed to return for the Citrus Bowl against Michigan where he hauled in 3 catches for 36 yards and 1 touchdown.
Forristall opted to return for his fifth year in 2020, and he had his best year statistically. Forristall nabbed 23 receptions for 253 yards and 1 touchdown. Against Arkansas, he led the team with a career-high 6 catches for 52 yards. Forristall once again spent part of the year banged up because of course.
He sat out the Kentucky game, something which helped pave the way for the emergence of Jahleel Billingsley. Billingsley had shown flashes here and there; but, from the Kentucky game on, he recorded 17 of his 18 receptions that year, 274 of his 287 yards, and all 3 of his touchdowns. Forristall was not forgotten, though. Over 50% of his catches came after resting that one game.
After the season, Forristall signed with an agent and is off to the NFL.
It’s unfortunate and frustrating that Forristall suffered as many injuries as he did and was as banged up as he was. Still, he arrived in Tuscaloosa as a 3 star and left having played 54 career games with 3 SEC championships and 2 national titles. Not a bad career at all.
Roll Tide, Miller.