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2023 Alabama Fall Football Wide Receiver Preview: Looking for Consistency

Playing opportunities await those who can hang on to passes.

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Allstate Sugar Bowl - Alabama v Kansas State
For better of for worst, Ja’Corey Brooks (#7) and Jermaine Burton (#3) are back.
Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Allen Iverson may not care much for practice, but the folks in the Yellowhammer State sure do. As the Crimson Tide opens their fall camp, RBR will bring you a series of position reviews and news. For future reference, they will all be listed under our stream entitled 2023 Alabama Football Fall Practice Coverage & Previews found on the front page.


Well that’s not what you want to hear...

There was a key word in Nick Saban’s statement I would like to emphasize: “consistency”. He mentioned that word several times in various forms during his recent press conferences. He was referring to many different positions but an emphasis has been on wide receiver. At times last season, the Tide has had receivers make some spectacular catches. But then the next week there would be mediocrity and mistakes. Apparently that trend has continued into fall camp.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Crimson Tide had 23 drops in the 2022 after having 27 in 2021. These dropped passes are not passes that were defended. They are catchable balls that were not corralled for whatever reason. In tennis, they call such mistakes as “unforced errors”. This is an issue that needs to change for the Tide to be successful.


Bama fans kept waiting for that Amari or Ridley or DeVonta to step up and take charge and it never happened. This season, the Crimson Tide has basically the same group of wide receivers with a few additions.

In 2022, Jermaine Burton’s 677 receiving yards represent the lowest total by a leading receiver since Marquis Maze 627 in 2011. That team won a National Championship, but they were also the third least penalized team in the nation for that season - 49 in 13 games as opposed to 103 in the same number of games last season. It is unclear if anyone kept stats on dropped passes 12 years ago, but it sure seems like Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks, and Kenny Bell were a little more adept at securing offerings.

2007 DJ Hall 1,005 John Parker Wilson W Independence
2008 Julio Jones 924 John Parker Wilson L Sugar
2009 Julio Jones 596 Greg McElroy W BCS NCG
2010 Julio Jones 1,133 Greg McElroy W Capital One
2011 Marquis Maze 627 AJ McCarron W BCS NCG
2012 Amari Cooper 1,000 AJ McCarron W BCS NCG
2013 Amari Cooper 736 AJ McCarron L Sugar
2014 Amari Cooper 1,727 Blake Sims L Sugar Semi
2015 Calvin Ridley 1,045 Jake Coker W CFP NCG
2016 ArDarius Stewart 864 Jalen Hurts L CFP NCG
2017 Calvin Ridley 967 Jalen Hurts* W CFP NCG
2018 Jerry Jeudy 1,315 Tua Tagovailoa L CFP NCG
2019 DeVonta Smith 1,256 Tua Tagovailoa W Citrus
2020 DeVonta Smith 1,856 Mac Jones W CFP NCG
2021 Jameson Williams 1,572 Bryce Young L CFP NCG
2022 Jermaine Burton 677 Bryce Young W Sugar

*Tua took over in the NCG.

You may notice that in 2009 and 2011, Bama’s leading receivers had similar totals and still won National Championships. However, those teams had some elite defenses, more favorable turnover margins, and were not plagued by stone hands.

[Interesting side note: no Alabama receiver had a rush attempt in 2022.]


Alabama lost six wide receivers off of last season’s roster. Not to sound crass, but none of these departures hurt the team.

  • Tyler Harrell (transfer to Miami-FL - projected starter at Z) - Are we sure this wasn’t actually Duron Carter the whole time?
  • JoJo Earle (transfer to TCU - projected starter in the slot) - Nagged by injuries and had troubles fielding punts.
  • Traeshon Holden (transfer to Oregon - projected starter at Z) - This former high 4-star had a disappointing career at Alabama. He lost playing time to younger players and his heart did not seem into it.
  • Christian Leary (transfer to Georgia Tech - projected second in the slot) - Buried so deep in the Alabama depth chart, they were trying him at running back.
  • Aaron Anderson (transfer to LSU - listed third at the Y) - Injured most of last year, took advantage of Bama’s world class health and rehab facilities, and then skipped town once he was healthy.
  • Thaiu Jones-Bell (recently disappeared off the roster) - Only four receptions in three lackluster seasons.


Below is a list of who Alabama had on the field for the first play of each game. In some cases such as the Tennessee game when they started tight ends Cameron Latu and Amari Niblack, the Tide started with an odd lineup as attempted trickeration.

vs Utah State Burton Holden Prentice
@ Texas Burton Holden Prentice
vs UL Monroe Burton Holden
vs Vanderbilt Burton Holden Prentice
@ Arkansas Burton Holden Earle
vs Texas A&M Burton Brooks
@ Tennessee Bond Brooks
vs Mississippi State Bond Brooks
@ LSU Bond Brooks Earle
@ Ole Miss Bond Brooks Earle
vs Austin Peay Burton Brooks Earle
vs Auburn Burton Brooks Earle
vs KSU Burton Brooks

  • 3 Jermaine Burton (6-1/194, SR, 40 rec, 677 yds, 16.9 ypc, 7 TD) - Burton probably could have tested the NFL waters but decided to return and “create more value” for himself as Saban would say. As the only senior, he is the emotional leader of the squad. Though he led most receiving stats, the former Georgia Bulldog had only one game over 100 yards (128 vs Austin Peay) and one regular season game over 50 (94 vs Vandy). Four of his seven touchdowns came against AP and Utah State (two apiece).
  • 7 Ja’Corey Brooks (6-2/195, JR, 39 rec, 674 yds, 17.3 ypc, 8 TD) - After his spectacular last-second game-tying score in the 2021 Iron Bowl, it looked like the Tide had found their Alpha Dog of the future. He became a starter in 2022, but didn’t exactly light the world on fire. Despite having lower overall stats to Burton, Brooks showed up in big games. He had the most catches (31), yards (515), and scores (6) against what I am going to call “Elite” Power-5 (TAMU, @Tenn, MSU, @LSU, @OM, Aub, K-State). There is such great potential for him to be a break out star but he needs consistency.
  • 80 Kobe Prentice (5-10/182, SO, 31 rec, 337 yds, 10.9 ypc, 2 TD) - A surprise starter in the home opener as a freshman, there was hope that Prentice would blossom. He did well against Utah State and grabbed four balls against Texas but only went for 27 yards. He had the lowest YPC average of 10.87 on the season - two yards less per catch than the next closest WR Kendrick Law. Prentice did not turn into an All-Star in his first season but he must have done something right to be out there so early in the season.


  • 17 Isaiah Bond (5-11/182, SO, 17 rec, 220 yds, 12.94 ypc, 1 TD) - After older players flailed around, Bond stepped up his game and became a starter by mid-October.
  • 19 Kendrick Law (5-11/201, SO, 8 rec, 103 yds, 12.88 ypc) - Much like Bond, Laws’s hard work got him more playing time and a regular spot in the rotation.
  • 24 Emmanuel Henderson (6-1/185, SO, 1-14) - Henderson was a 5-star running back as a recruit. However, he made it perfectly clear that he wanted to try another position in college (a strategy many running backs in the NFL are probably wishing they had followed). While he is still learning the WR position, he was a standout on special teams last season and participated in all 13 games.
  • 18 Shazz Preston (6-1/202, R-FR) - Played in four games last season, but recorded no stats. There is no reason to give up on him yet.


  • 11 Malik Benson ( 6-1/195, JR) - The JUCO transfer set Hutchinson’s all-time record for receiving yards with 2,152. He has been overlooked by most of the beat writers. He should easily break into the rotation and could become a starter within the first month of the season. He has breakaway speed that could remind fans of Jameson Williams (if Bama can get someone to deliver a ball into his waiting arms).


  • 82 Jalen Hale (6-1/189, FR) - As a recruit, this Longview, TX native was rated a borderline 4/5 star. He has worked in the slot and outside as a deep threat. He could see his way into meaningful playing time this season.
  • 16 Jaren Hamilton (6-1/200, FR) - This 4-star from Gainesville, FL has excellent speed and averaged of 23 yards per catch in high school. He likely finds a spot on special teams this year and move up in coming seasons.
  • 13 Cole Adams (5-10/186, FR) - 3-star from Owasso, OK sustained a shoulder injury that resulted in him missing most of his senior season. It could explain his low rating by the crootin’ “experts”. Saban recently mentioned that the speedster has been auditioning as a kickoff returner.


It’s seems logical that Brooks and Burton will be two starters when the Tide laces them up for Middle Tennessee. The third starter is harder to predict since so many of these guys can play so many different positions. My feeling is Bama fans will expand the Killer B’s lineup with Benson and/or Bond though Law and Prentice will see plenty of sub time.

Instead of a depth chart, I’m going to take a different approach and rank the WRs:

  1. Brooks
  2. Burton
  3. Benson
  4. Bond
  5. Law
  6. Prentice
  7. Henderson
  8. Hale
  9. Preston/Hamilton/Adams

Nick Saban sounds REAL frustrated with the repeated issue of dropped passes. Don’t be surprised if he benches a veteran or two.


Who is the third best WR for Bama?

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  • 38%
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  • 14%
    (48 votes)
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    (47 votes)
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323 votes total Vote Now