Top 10 Tight Ends of the Saban Era
Players at the tight end position have always seemed to make big plays in big games under coach Saban. As the 2020 season progressed, tight end Jahleel Billingsley emerged as a vital weapon for the Crimson Tide offense. Billingsley, now going into his junior season, is following in the footsteps of many great tight ends who have put on the crimson and white for the GOAT. Let's take a look at the ten best tight ends for Alabama since the 2007 season.
10. Hale Hentges (2015-2018)
In Hentges 4 years at the Capstone, he totaled 15 receptions, 124 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Along with his value as a blocker, he proved to be a valuable target for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, even catching a touchdown in the 2019 College Football Playoff national championship.
9. Colin Peek (2009)
The Georgia Tech transfer played only one season for the Crimson Tide, but he still managed to total 26 receptions, 313 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Peek's signature play came against the Florida Gators in the SEC championship as he hauled in a touchdown over his shoulder to help the Tide to a national championship bid.
8. Preston Dial (2007-2010)
Dial was a great friend of quarterback Greg McElroy, and their connection was evident as they collaborated for 3 touchdowns their senior season. He also totaled 30 receptions and 318 yards in his Tide tenure.
7. Jahleel Billingsley (2019-Present)
The aforementioned current starting tight end for Alabama made spectacular plays when it mattered most on the way to 'Bama's 18th. He's totaled 20 receptions, 303 yards, and 3 touchdowns through his first two seasons. Billingsley is no doubt the guy at tight end going into 2021, and he will most likely climb near the top of this list by the end of next season.
6. Nick Walker (2005-2008)
Walker was the starter during Saban's first two years at Alabama. Standing at 6'5" 248 pounds, he put up impressive career numbers with 67 receptions, 687 yards, and 5 touchdowns.
5. Miller Forristall (2016-2020)
Forristall had an incredible career for Alabama. Fighting through a torn ACL during his sophomore season, he was notable for his spectacular lead blocking springing runners for touchdowns. He also had 44 receptions, 505 yards, and 5 touchdowns during his career. Forristall is looking to be drafted in the upcoming NFL draft.
4. Brad Smelley (2008-2011)
Smelley was always a fan favorite at Alabama. He always seemed to be open crossing the middle of the field. Smelley went for 54 receptions, 559 yards, and 4 touchdowns throughout his career, winning two national titles with quarterbacks Greg McElroy and AJ McCarron.
3. Michael Williams (2009-2012)
Williams was an outstanding blocker for the Crimson Tide at 6'6" 269 pounds. He served the role as an extra lineman, but he had sneaky athleticism. Williams had 7 touchdowns and 503 yards in his career using his big frame to get open in the red zone.
2. Irv Smith Jr. (2016-2018)
Irv is definitely one of the most memorable tight end targets under Saban. He provided yet another weapon for Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa in their high powered offenses. Smith had 838 yards and 10 touchdowns in just two seasons on the field for Alabama. He now plays for the Minnesota Vikings.
1. O.J. Howard
OJ was the first of this new breed of receiving tight ends in Tuscaloosa. Playing for four different starting quarterbacks in his four years, Howard had 114 receptions, 1726 yards, and 7 touchdowns. He will forever live in the hearts of Crimson Tide fans flying down the field wide open for two touchdowns to take down Clemson in the 2015 national championship. Howard now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and even though he was injured this season, he will be receiving his first Super Bowl ring.