The Crimson Tide received a welcome addition to its young wide receiving corps with the announcement that Oregon State graduate transfer Richard Mullaney had selected Alabama as his transfer destination following a visit on Monday, June 15. Mullaney, a steady veteran receiver who spent much of 2014 sidelined by injury, will provide the Tide with much needed veteran depth in a unit that saw future All-Pro receiver Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones depart the team earlier this year.
Alabama's wide receiving roster was further depleted with the injury of Cam Sims this spring. Sims, a promising young talent who saw limited action in 2014, would have likely been a heavy contributor due to his physical measurables and year of experience in offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's explosive system.
Mullaney brings a nice combination of size, explosiveness and veteran savvy to Tuscaloosa. While his career numbers seem relatively pedestrian (83 receptions, 1160 yards with five touchdowns), he redshirted in 2011 and was injured in game six of the 2014 season in the Beavers' game against Utah. The elbow injury caused him to miss the remainder of the season, but prior to the injury, he had accrued only 216 yards on 18 receptions with a single touchdown. In his best performance of the abbreviated season, Mullaney had five receptions for 78 yards in the Beavers' loss to USC. Heading into the 2014 season, Mullaney was on the pre-season Biletnikoff Award watch list and was forecast to have a potential breakout year.
The former three-star recruit out of Thousand Oaks, CA had arguably his best season in 2013, when he emerged as one of the Beavers' top receiving threats. In '13, Mullaney reeled in 52 catches off the arm of OSU QB Sean Mannion for 788 yards and three touchdowns. His long catch of 46 yards came against the Washington State defense. Mullaney averaged 15.2 yards per catch average throughout the season.
Mullaney saw little action in 2012, getting only 13 touches for 156 yards and a touchdown. He redshirted in his freshman year. Rated as a three-start prospect coming out of high school, the receiver held offers from several programs, including Air Force, Colorado State, Hawai'i, Utah and Washington.
Heading into his final year of action in Corvallis, Mullaney was perceived to be a member of the top grouping of receivers for the Beavers. Following spring drills, Mullaney was routinely alternating between the ones and twos. However, the Beavers have a glut of talent at the wide receiver position, with Victor Bolden emerging as the Beavers' leading receiver in 2014, Jordan Villamin becoming a reliable deep threat and Hunter Jarmon, Xavier Hawkins and others rounding out an able corps.
Also likely factoring into Mullaney's decision to transfer is the change in offensive philosophy Oregon State is undergoing. After years in former coach Mike Riley's pro-style passing offense, the Beavers, under new coach Gary Anderson, are expected to implement a run-first philosophy similar to the one he used at Wisconsin. The departure of four-year starter Mannion at quarterback has also necessitated that the Beavers shift to a run-first, spread no-huddle scheme on offense, one that would minimize the impact of a large-framed, physical receiver like Mullaney.
Mullaney should dove-tail well into Alabama's offensive philosophy and roster. As a protégé of former Tide player and Oregon State coach Riley, the former Beaver is well-versed in the roles and responsibilities of a receiver in Kiffin's pro style offense. Alabama expects wide receivers to play a role in the down field blocking game, and Mullaney definitely has the size and physical presence to contribute in that regard.
In reviewing tape of Mullaney at Oregon State, it is apparent that he is a physical receiver who, despite his rather plodding pace, runs sharp routes and has the ability to high point the ball. His vertical speed is nothing special for a receiver (he was officially clocked at 4.64 in the 40), but his body position and control allows him to outwrestle defenders for the ball. He is comfortable catching the ball while draped in heavy coverage, and his length, good hands and body control give him an advantage over all but the largest defensive backs.
Mullaney joins an Alabama wide receiving corps deep in talent but light on experience. The current WR roster includes presumed contributors Chris Black, Robert Foster, Ar'Darius Stewart, Raheem Falkins and Derek Kief. The former Beaver will bring a veteran presence to one of the Tide's most unseasoned units.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sources report that Mullaney measured 6-foot-3, 210-pounds at Alabama this week.