Alabama’s Wide Receivers Are Off to a Historically Strong Start

The 2018 version of Alabama boasts the school’s most prolific offense since coach Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa.

The combination of sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and a talented group of receivers, most of whom are underclassmen, has led to monstrous receiving stats to which there may not be a single historic comparison.

Entering Alabama’s Week 10 matchup at No. 4 LSU, the Crimson Tide’s top five receivers — in terms of receptions — are all averaging more than 17 yards per catch, including two at more than 20 yards per reception.

Each player has at least 20 catches, 400 yards and three receiving touchdowns.

We went through the top-10 passing offenses from every year of this decade to try to find a comparison, and we couldn’t find one that could match the per-catch production of wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle, Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith and tight end Irv Smith Jr.

The scariest news for the rest of the country is that every player in that group, save for Smith, will be back next season.

Here are the receiving statistics for Alabama’s top five receivers through eight games.

Player Receptions Yards YPC TD Rec./TD
Jerry Jeudy 31 777 25.1 10 3.1
Henry Ruggs III 24 444 18.5 7 3.4
Irv Smith Jr. 22 384 17.5 5 4.4
Jaylen Waddle 21 457 21.8 3 7
DeVonta Smith 21 409 19.5 3 7

 

Here are some of the closest comparisons to Alabama’s 2018 receiving production that we could find from other top-10 passing offenses this decade.

Baylor, 2013

Player Receptions Yards YPC TD Rec./TD
Antwan Goodley 71 1,339 18.9 13 5.5
Levi Norwood 47 733 15.6 8 5.9
Tevin Reese 38 867 22.8 8 4.8
Corey Coleman 35 527 15.1 2 17.5
Clay Fuller 32 512 16.0 3 10.7

Oklahoma, 2017

Player Receptions Yards YPC TD Rec./TD
Mark Andrews 62 958 15.5 8 7.8
Marquise Brown 57 1,095 19.2 7 8.1
CeeDee Lamb 46 807 17.5 7 6.6
Dimitri Flowers 26 464 17.8 5 5.2
Jeff Badet 26 400 15.4 3 8.7

Oklahoma State, 2017

Player Receptions Yards YPC TD Rec./TD
James Washington 74 1,549 20.9 13 5.7
Marcell Ateman 59 1,156 19.6 8 7.4
Jalen McCleskey 50 645 12.9 5 10
Dillon Stoner 44 576 13.1 6 7.3
Justice Hill 31 190 6.1 1 31

Oklahoma State, 2015

Player Receptions Yards YPC TD Rec./TD
David Glidden 57 866 15.2 3 19
James Washington 53 1,087 20.5 10 5.3
Marcell Ateman 45 766 17.0 5 9
Jalen McCleskey 29 253 8.7 3 9.7
Brandon Sheperd 23 323 14.0 3 7.7

Baylor, 2012

Player Receptions Yards YPC TD Rec./TD
Terrance Williams 97 1,832 18.9 12 8.1
Tevin Reese 53 957 18.1 9 5.9
Lanear Sampson 52 646 12.4 6 8.7
Levi Norwood 40 487 12.2 1 40
Antwan Goodley 17 171 10.2 2 8.5

Toledo, 2016

Player Receptions Yards YPC TD Rec./TD
Corey Jones 66 817 12.4 5 13.2
Cody Thompson 64 1,269 19.8 11 5.8
Michael Roberts 45 533 11.8 16 2.8
Kareem Hunt 41 403 9.8 1 41
Jon’Vea Johnson 40 773 19.3 10 4

 

The Crimson Tide still has to play two strong defenses in LSU and Mississippi State, but if Alabama can keep a similar pace through the air in the second half of the season, then there’s a chance that its wide receivers and top tight end will have better yards-per-catch and receptions-per-touchdown averages than any other group of five receivers that have played the sport.