Crimson Tide Season Hits Low Ebb With Jaylen Waddle Injury
Just one week after blowing away SEC rivals Georgia, Alabama’s season hit a low ebb as star wide receiver Jaylen Waddle suffered an ankle injury on the opening play of the game against Tennessee that will keep him side-lined for the remainder of the season.
The most electric player in college football, Waddle is the Crimson Tide’s top receiver, a candidate for the Heisman Trophy, and before the injury, was an almost certain Top 10 draft pick if he elected to turn pro at the conclusion of the college season. That ranking is now in doubt.
Jaylen Waddle Suffers Broken Ankle
On the opening return of Alabama’s crushing 48-17 victory over Tennessee, Waddle was brought down, with his ankle pinned to the turf. At the completion of the play, he was carried from the field and didn’t put any weight on the injured ankle.
He was later taken to hospital in an ambulance, and coach Nick Saban confirmed the extent of the injury at half time.
‘He’s out for the year, and it’s a shame because he’s a great player. It’s exciting for college football to see a guy play like that. I hate it when he gets hurt on a play like that – you know, you’re not supposed to bring the ball out when you’re that deep in the end zone. But he’s a great player, so you got to let him use his judgement.’
Rehab Starts Now For Waddle
Waddle is being flown privately back to Alabama, where he will be assessed by team doctors before surgery to repair the damaged ankle.
Such a devastating injury will most likely mean the star receiver has played his last game for Alabama, with Waddle likely to declare for the draft.
‘We’re going to fly him back privately with the doctors and take him back to Birmingham and see what we have to do right away. If that’s the case, and we’re pretty certain that it is, he would probably be out for the year.’
‘It’s really a sad time for me for Jaylen Waddle and for his family. The guy’s a great player, a great teammate, an exciting player to watch. I hate that people in college football can’t see him play more. We’re going to coach the players we have and do the best we can to try to get better,’ added Saban.
Injury Leaves Hole In Offensive Production
The injury to Waddle leaves a big hole in the Alabama offence, as the junior from Houston was posting frightening numbers early in the season.
In the first four games he had at least 120 yards receiving, leading Alabama with a staggering 557 yards off only 25 catches.
His production on punt returns had also been immense, clocking up 733 punt return yards, placing him 6th all-time for Alabama.
Almost a footnote in the game was Saban getting yet another win over a former assistant, improving his record to 23-0 and giving him four consecutive wins over former assistants this season.
‘It’s always a great win,’ Saban said. ‘It’s a great rivalry game. I know it means a lot to a lot of people in the state of Alabama and certainly proud of our players for the effort that they put in and the game we played. It’s always good to win.’
Saban and his coaches will need to work hard to instil the ‘next man up’ mentality in their charges over the coming weeks, or the tide could go out on what was once looking like a shot at another National Championship.