17 June 2008
| Nick Walker - #88 - TE - 6-5 - 255 lbs. - Brundidge, AL - Pike County HS - 3 Varsity Letters
Despite the fact that Alabama has been seemingly unable to pass the ball to the TE over the past 3 seasons, Nick Walker has averaged right at 1 reception per game (35 receptions in 37 games). It is certainly possible to throw the ball to the TE more times than that, but Nick has been more productive than I would imagine most Bama fans would think.
While Travis McCall
is the pass-blocking TE, Nick Walker is the pass-catching TE. They've both started games, and with the multiple 2 TE sets that Jim McElwain likes to run, they will both likely "start" a lot of games this time.
Nick is a great route runner who is able to use his size to really take advantage of mismatches with LBs and Safeties. He has had some problems with dropped passes over the last 2 seasons, and that is something that must improve in 2008.
Much as things are with Travis McCall, the development of a consistent right tackle will have a lot to say about how many opportunities Nick will have. If the TEs still have to stay in to help protect the QB's front side, then McCall will get more playing time. If the TEs are free to run passing routes, Walker will get many more looks.
He needs to get a little tougher in traffic, especially if he wants to parlay a good 2008 into an NFL career. I expect we'll see Nick lineup at multiple places along the line of scrimmage, as Jim McElwain loves to move his TEs around. With McCall much more adept at the H-back role, expect Nick to always be on the line of scrimmage.
Toughness is hard to teach, but Nick Saban is one of the best at teaching it. Nick likely becomes Alabama's mid-range TE threat, with McCall the short range and Chris Underwood
& Preston Dial
the deeper threats - though with TE, "deep threat" is a relative term. He finished last season as Bama's 5th leading receiver (22 receptions), and I expect we'll see numbers at least that good again in 2008.