By: Garrett Franks
TUSCALOOSA, Ala.- Throughout the weeks leading up to spring practice we will break down each position for the Crimson Tide this season.
Tight Ends are arguably the hardest position coming out of high school to evaluate. So, predicting roles for the newcomers can be shots in the dark.
After a promising sophomore campaign, the true junior was poised for a big 3rd season.
Things got off to a rocky start as he didn’t start vs. Miami. Head Coach Nick Saban alluded to Billingsley having some off the field issues. Regardless what transpired off the field, Billingsley struggled to find consistency on the field.
He struggled in big moments throughout the season. Against Texas A&M, he dropped two receptions, one that would’ve been a score. He finished the season with 256 yards on 17 receptions for 3 TDs.
After being a non-factor in the playoffs, Jahleel entered his name into the transfer portal. He decided to reunite with his former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian at Texas.
Jahleel has all the talent in the world, thats not debated. He is currently at a fork in the road of his career. One path (while not easy) is the promise land of a productive season at Texas. The alternative is one similar to last season, one filled with off the field issues and a lack of productivity. Only Jahleel can decide which path he wants to take.
Coming from Flint Texas, Tennison enrolled in the now famous 2017 class. Major played a decent role in his freshman season due to injuries.
His role decreased over time as players stepped up such as Irv Smith and Billingsley. He only saw action in one game this season, in the season-opener versus Miami.
He finishes his Crimson Tide career with six receptions for 55 yards and one TD.
Coming from Bob Jones HS, the four-star prospect chose Alabama over Mississippi State and Auburn. He originally signed as an offensive linemen.
While he has seen a limited role on the line, he received an opportunity to move over to tight end. He didn’t register any statistics this past season. Kendall was key in goal line situations lining up on the line as a tight end.
Expect Randolph to have a similar role to last season. We’ll see him line up as a blocking TE, he probably won’t be going vertical down the field.
One of a few players from Utah, Latu came to Alabama as an EDGE rusher. Due to injuries, Latu moved to TE and flourished.
He started the season-opener verses Miami off strong, hauling in 3 receptions for 43 yards and 2 TDs. He continued his strong play until the Texas A&M where he struggled only catching one ball on multiple targets.
After the A&M game, he struggled to regain the form he once had. Latu only caught one more TD in the regular season. When the play-offs came around, Latu went back to being the reliable target tide fans have come to know. He caught 6 balls for 111 yards and 2 TDs in the final two games.
Latu comes into the 2022-2023 looking to build upon the strong end to the season. He has the talent, the question is can he stay consentient in his pass catching ability?
Robbie filled in as an interesting role last season for the tide. He played the role of lead blocker in goal-line situations.
His season was cut short due to a foot injury that he sustained during the Arkansas game.
Expect Robbie to have a similar role to last season. He’s not much of a threat in the pass game, but provides a big body up the middle in short-yardage situations.
The Freshman from Dayton Ohio, Brown is a traditional hand in the ground tight end.
While he is more of a blocker, Brown still is a vertical threat. Standing at 6’5 23olbs, Brown possess that size you want in a tight end.
With such a deep room, this year could easily be a redshirt year for the freshman. But, as we saw last year, injuries can always change that narrative.
Niblack is a name that all Tide fans should keep an eye on. In an interview, Niblack said that Coach Saban referred to him as Julio Jones. Getting comparisons to Jones from Saban is a high compliment.
Niblack standing at 6’4 220 the size is there for an elite field stretching threat. His game reminds me of the former Alabama TE Irv. Smith. While he can block, pass catching is his forte.
Expect Niblack to be in the TE rotation by the end of the season. Especially if Latu gets into another mid-season funk.
Lewis was a relatively unknown recruit until a viral video of him and LSU Coach Brian Kelly dancing during a visit.
Lewis is no joke though, the multi-sport athlete has a great frame coming in at nearly 6’5 250lbs. Between the three newcomers, Lewis comes in as the most balanced of the three. He has great hands and speed but can also block in an H-back role.
Lewis could benefit from a redshirt but don’t be surprised if he gets early playing time.