Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Nick Saban Shares Alabama WR Transfer Injury Update

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Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are unlucky as they failed to include wide receiver Tyler Harrell — a Louisville transfer who was quiet for three seasons before breaking out in 2021 — on offense in one of their last votes before SEC West to play.

“He wasn’t able to train this week,” Saban said during the Sept. 14 SEC Coaches 2022 conference call. “He won’t play in this game. He’s kind of day to day with this foot injury that he has. Hope he comes back soon.”

Harrell caught 18 passes for 523 yards during his third playing season with the Cardinals (he saw no action during the 2020 COVID season) before going to the transfer portal in April. He was ranked as the fifth-best Alabama transfer and the 13th-best SEC transfer in author Matt Hayes’ Saturday Down South conference transfer rankings.

Hayes shared an ACC coach’s opinion that Harrell has a chance to be special, even comparing him to former Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams because of his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame. Williams was hit with the 12th pick in the 2022 NFL draft last April, so that cap could bode well for the Crimson Tide when he returns — especially given that he’s been more effective at Louisville than Williams at Ohio State.

With Jameson Williams, John Metchie III and Slade Bolden all gone to the NFL, the reigning SEC champions needed an infusion of talent into the receiving corps. Nick Saban delivered by displacing Jermaine Burton from National Champion Georgia’s clutches, grabbing Georgia Tech’s elite passing backfield threat RB Jahmyr Gibbs and removing Tyler Harrell from an underperforming Louisville program.

Harrell’s decision was made easy because he enjoyed visiting Bryant-Denny Stadium and the University of Alabama campus. “It was phenomenal,” Harrell said, per BamaOnLine. “It was a good fan base. It was an experience I’ve never seen before. I was excited. I liked what was going on in terms of the facilities, the soccer field, the apartments, stuff like that. The academics, they’re great at it too. Everything was just great.”

Another big draw was returning third-year signal caller Bryce Young. Before his signing, Harrell spoke highly of the defending Heisman Trophy winner — projecting a clean quarterback-receiver fit between the two.

“I just feel like with his arm and his ability to throw the ball my chemistry would be right with my speed and ability. I have a feeling we could go a long way with that.”

Back on August 7, during Alabama Media Day on the first Sunday of fall camp, Nick Saban offered a neutral update on Harrell’s progress at Crimson up to that point.

“He could train every day, but not 100%. I think he showed that he has a lot of skills. We just need to steer it in the right direction so we can use him in the most productive way for him and us.”

Not much has changed since then.

Harrell could end up being a stellar addition to an Alabama team that faces a gauntlet run in October. While Texas A&M may not pose the threat they hyped for the preseason after a recent loss to Appalachian State at Kyle Field, Arkansas and Tennessee expect to get their massive out-of-conference Tests against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, respectively. Will Rogers and the Mississippi State offensive air strike will be a big test to end the month.

On the other hand, he could also lose himself in the shuffle if Jahmyr Gibbs draws so many looks in the passing game, adding Ja’Corey Brooks, Traeshon Holden and Cameron Latu to Jermaine Burton in a loaded Crimson Tide receiving corps.

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