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Alabama wide receivers embracing coaching tactics of Mike Locksley

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama has yet to encounter an issue with churning out marquee statisitics at the wide receiver position; however, this upcoming season has the makings of producing a few guys that can record a high volume of receptions. Before accepting an offensive coordinator position at Arizona State University, Billy Napier was the Crimson Tide’s offensive analyst and wide receivers coach from 2011-16.

He tutored Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley into being 1,000-yard targets, while assisting Cooper to win the 2014 Fred Biletnikoff Award – presented to the nation’s top receiver. He posted 124 catches for 1,727 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns during that season. Along with Cooper and Ridley, Napier helped ArDarius Stewart, DeAndrew White, Christion Jones, Kevin Norwood, Cam Sims, Richard Mullaney, Gehrig Dieter and others become consistent role players, en route to earning three national championships in Tuscaloosa.

After being promoted to on-field assistant before the 2017 College Football Playoff national title game, Michael Locksley took his first steps into “The Process” by running Alabama’s fourth quarter program with strength coach Scott Cochran. His 20-plus years of offensive experience was good enough to help Arrelious Bend (Illinois) and Stephon Diggs (Maryland) make to the National Football League, but per sources it’s Locksley’s demeanor that’s brought him respect.

“He’s on top of everything when it comes to receivers,” the source said on Locksley.

“He sugarcoats nothing. Locksley keeps it honest and the players identify with him. He’s very knowledgeable about the game and goes about everything in a professional manner.”

While the players consider him to be inspirational, Locksley continues to teach this receiving corps on toughness and work ethic. The challenge he’s presented is starting to pay off, as the Tide’s perimeter monsters turned in two good scrimmages. Both sophomore T.J. Simmons and five-star freshman Jerry Jeudy recorded touchdown catches a week ago. As for Ridley, the five-star and All-American led the unit with eight receptions – three scores – during the team’s first scrimmage. Even Robert Foster is starting to develop more consistency.

“Locksley and (Brian) Daboll have raised the bar,” the source said. “Both are incredible.”

Like head coach Nick Saban, Locksley is concerned about the full student-athlete.

He desires for this receiving unit to have strong moral values and in doing so, he posted a photo via Twitter on Sunday with him and some of the Tide’s wide outs after stirring church service. With A-Day scheduled for Saturday, Locksley intends to create a lot of frustration for defensive backs as he constantly prepares this bunch for the 2017 season.

Stephen M. Smith is a managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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