24 July 2008
| Earl Alexander - #82 – WR – 6-5 – 210 lbs. – Phenix City, AL – Central HS – No Varsity Letters
Earl is one of the more intriguing players on Bama’s roster. A Quarterback in high school, he was immediately moved to Wide Receiver upon arriving in Tuscaloosa. That is quite an adjustment, and a redshirt was all but a guarantee.
Fast forward now to the 2007 season and Earl began with a bang, recording 4 catches in Alabama’s season opener against Western Carolina, with 2 of those resulting in a 3rd Down Conversion. Bama fans began to salivate at the idea of a 6’5 receiver wreaking havoc on opposing defenses without taking into consideration the talent level of the Western Carolina defense.
Once the talent level on the other side of the field increased, Earl’s involvement in the offense disappeared. Those 4 catches in game 1 were his only 4 on the season, though he did appear in all 13 games. As was the case with most of Bama’s receivers, as the offense went into a shell late in the season, there really weren’t many opportunities for anyone not named DJ Hall
The interesting thing for Earl is that this off-season has seen the prospect of more playing time and more involvement in the offense rise and fall repeatedly. With the departure of Hall
, Keith Brown
& Matt Caddell
, all of the returning WR class got new life. Then on National Signing Day the Tide added to the roster stars like Julio Jones
, Burton Scott
, Destin Hood
, Melvin Ray
, Chris Jackson
& Devonta Bolton
, sending a message to the returning guys that playing time would be up for grabs.
signed pro baseball contracts & Bolton headed off to Junior College. Returning Senior Will Oakley
broke his foot requiring surgery. Redshirt Freshman Tarance Farmer
left the team. All of the the sudden the Tide’s deep WR pool became a little more shallow.
: It still won’t be easy for Earl to earn playing time. While there is very little returning experience from the Wide Receivers, there is a tremendous influx of talent from both the returning redshirt freshmen and the incoming guys.
Earl’s height could make him quite a weapon, especially in the red zone. His strength becomes an issue there, and he will likely immediately be behind incoming star Julio Jones
as an option for the fade route “go to guy”.
Learning a new position at the collegiate level is tough to do, but Earl is athletic enough to make the change. Whether or not his athleticism will be enough to overcome his lack of experience at the position as compared to other players is still yet to be seen.
is likely to use a 6-8 man rotation at WR this season, given his multiple 4 and 5 wide sets, and the fact that he likes to spread the ball around. Right now there are 10 players expected to start the season at WR, so there will be competition to fill those 8 spots, especially the first 6, to whom most of the playing time will go. The health of Oakley
is still in question, so that 10 could drop to 9 very quickly.
Realistically, though, there are players that Earl will not compete with. Guys like Darius Hanks
, Marquis Maze
& Burton Scott
are inside, slot guys, where Earl is absolutely an outside guy. His competition will come from Mike McCoy
, Julio Jones
, Nikita Stover
, Brandon Gibson
& Chris Jackson
How much Earl plays will likely depend on the health of Oakley
, and his continued development could pay big dividends for the Alabama offense. If he can become the receiver that he showed flashes of being in the Tide's opener last year, then he can be a real, reliable threat especially when matched up against cornerbacks on the outside who are likely to be 4-6 inches shorter.