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Alabama 2022 Spring Football Preview: Tight Ends Rebuild

The Crimson Tide needs to evolve at the position.

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl Classic-Cincinnati at Alabama
Cameron Latu heads for the end zone.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Spring has sprung and football is back. In practice form at least. Friday, March 11 marks the first day of spring practice for the Crimson Tide.

Currently, the tight end position for Alabama is dangerously thin. There are plenty of guys on the roster who can slip on an “88” and block in jumbo packages, but very few who are offensive threats. One potential break-out star will enroll in the fall, but are there any who could impress in the spring?


Addition by subtraction?

  • Jahleel Billingsley - All the talent in the world, but not much in the way of discipline and attitude. He is Texas’s problem now.
  • Major Tennison - After playing some snaps in the 2021 season opener against Miami, this fifth year senior simply disappeared.
  • Caden Clark? - As reported last week, this freshman was not listed on the roster. He was previously asked to grayshirt which entails postponing enrollment until the following spring semester, which is never a good sign. He did not play a down in 2021. Although no official word has been released, one would conclude he is not a part of the program’s future plans.


  • Cameron Latu - I feel like this redshirt senior does not get the credit he deserves. He recorded 8 touchdowns in 2021 including one in each of the playoff games. That first number is more than ANY Alabama tight end has ever recorded in a single season. In the National Championship Game when the Tide had to go without John Metchie or Jameson Williams, Latu was a vaulable target over the remaining wide receivers (5 rec, 102 yds, TD). Is he the most polished of receivers? No, but at 6-5/244 he is a definite mismatch for almost any defender and can be devastating when Alabama has the ball inside the 10 yard line. He is a solid blocker as well.
Howard Cross 1988 11 19 226 11.9 3 6.3
Nick Walker 2007 13 23 204 8.9 2 11.5
Nick Walker 2008 14 32 324 10.1 2 16.0
Colin Peek 2009 14 26 313 12 3 8.7
Preston Dial 2010 13 25 264 10.6 3 8.3
Brad Smelley 2011 13 34 356 10.5 4 8.5
Michael Williams 2011 13 16 191 11.9 2 8.0
Michael Williams 2012 14 24 183 7.6 4 6.0
OJ Howard 2013 10 14 269 19.2 2 7.0
OJ Howard 2014 9 17 260 15.3 0 -
OJ Howard 2015 12 38 602 15.8 2 19.0
OJ Howard 2016 15 45 595 13.2 3 15.0
Irv Smith, Jr. 2017 9 14 128 9.1 3 4.7
Hale Hentges 2017 6 7 75 10.7 3 2.3
Hale Hentges 2018 3 4 34 8.5 3 1.3
Irv Smith, Jr. 2018 15 44 710 16.1 7 6.3
Miller Forristall 2019 8 15 167 11.1 4 3.8
Miller Forristall 2020 10 23 253 11 1 23.0
Jahleel Billingsley 2020 7 18 287 15.9 3 6.0
Jahleel Billingsley 2021 10 17 256 15.1 3 5.7
Cameron Latu 2021 14 26 410 15.8 8 3.3

*TD EFF represents touchdowns per receptions. For every 3.3 catches, Latu converted a score.

  • Kendall Randolph - Let’s get real. This Super-Senior is not likely going to catch many balls in big games. When he has an “85” jersey on, it is in order to serve as a blocking tight end/third tackle. But do not dismiss him for that. At 6-4/298, he has proven to be a solid blocker and has game experience at tackle as well. It is just a little foggy as to why Nick Saban is willing to use up a scholarship on a “specialist” when he could probably utilize someone like Amari Kight in the same role. Randolph has not recorded a catch in his previous five seasons at the Capstone, but I have a feeling this will be the year! Watch out, Austin Peay!
  • Robbie Ouzts - Alabama fans may have not noticed, but this rising sophomore played a good deal in his first season. He saw minutes in the first 11 games before suffering the dreaded “lower-body injury” and did not participate in the Iron Bowl, SEC Championship Game, and Cotton Bowl. However, he was back in time for the National Championship. Ouzts (6-4/258) is more of an H-back/fullback and was key on short-yardage situations. He recorded one reception for eight yards against New Mexico State. Oddly enough with that one grab, he is the second-leading returning tight end as a receiver. It will be interesting to see how he progresses this spring and if he can become an offensive threat.


  • Elijah Brown - This early enrollee comes to the team ranked as the #312 prospect for 2022 with 4-stars. He is the prototypical tight end at 6-5/238. His Dayton, Ohio high school team had a run-oriented offense, thus it is difficult to know how he might do in a high-powered offense. Time will tell.
  • Wild Card - Spring is a time for experimentation. We might see a veteran offensive lineman trying out the position. Amari Kight, Tanner Bowles?


  • Amari Niblack - high 4-star, 6-4/220, St. Petersburg, FL - Dynamic Kyle Pitts-like athlete. This is the one to look for this fall.
  • Danny Lewis - 3-star, 6-4.5/255, New Iberia, LA - more of a traditional tight end.


Not much to predict here.

  1. Latu is the number one tight end target of Tide quarterbacks this spring and fall.
  2. Ouzts should get some looks as a receiver and may even get a carry on A-Day.
  3. Randolph is technically a starter. But as a pass catching threat, he is down the list.
  4. Brown is still a baby.


Is depth at tight end a concern?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Yes. If Latu gets hurt, Bama is in a tough spot.
    (170 votes)
  • 22%
    Maybe. I have hopes for Ouzts and/or Brown.
    (75 votes)
  • 25%
    No. Bama doesn’t throw downfield to the tight end anyway. Just ask OJ. Too soon?
    (84 votes)
329 votes total Vote Now