Connect with us

Alabama Football Impact Players

Alabama football: Top five offensive impact freshmen for next season

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (No. 13) attempts a pass during Crimson Tide's 2017 A-Day game: Cedric Mason - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Summer workouts are now in session as the final wave of Alabama’s 2017 recruiting class has made it on campus. While all 28 players are more than excited to start the season against Florida State in Atlanta; a handful will have a chance of making a significant impact in the fall.

The hiring of Brian Daboll has Crimson Tide fans eager to see a potent offense.

After what was viewed on A-Day from both quarterbacks – Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa – and the wide receiver position, defensive coordinators can only hope to have guys in the right spots at the right time.

With experience returning and fresh talent to mentor, yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine now dives into the five freshmen that will be critical for the Tide offensively.

5. Henry Ruggs, III – WR

Ruggs was an all-purpose athlete during two years of varsity football at Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery, Ala. Rated a five-star per 247 Sports, he recorded 1,623 total yards and 20 touchdowns on 102 touches in his senior season through nine games.

Although he was solely at wide receiver in 2015, Ruggs lined up at receiver, running back, quarterback and even returned kicks in 2016. Due to the Tide’s depth at wide out, the 6-foot, 175-pounder must make his presence felt on special teams. His vision and elusiveness upon fielding the ball is reminiscent of former Alabama running back turned Miami Dolphin, Kenyan Drake.

Ruggs returned seven kicks last season for 352 yards with a touchdown.

4. Joseph Bulovas – PK

He’s signed quality at running back, wide receiver, offensive line and on defense, so it is only right for Tide’s head coach Nick Saban to have a solid kicker. This department cost Alabama a national championship in 2013, and has been a struggle since Jeremy Shelley graduated.

The arrival of Bulovas, a Louisiana native, should put all issues to rest – seeing that he was the nation’s top-rated kicker according to Rivals. He nailed a 70-yard field goal two years ago for fans to see on Twitter, but Bulovas will only become a legend if he can do it in Tuscaloosa. Following a tough outing from Andy Pappanastos on A-Day, Bulovas has no competition for the starting job. Saban mentioned throughout spring about how excited the team is to have the 6-foot, 205-pound specialist; however, he must prove his worth to fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

3. Najee Harris – RB

Alabama running backs coach Burton Burns could see one to two guys transfer or someone redshirt next season, but neither of those options are for Najee Harris. After watching high school film (California) and seeing him in the spring, Tide fans expect him to dominate.

His 7,948 career rushing yards are fourth most in California high school history, which helped him secure a unanimous five-star rating and be tabbed the No. 1 overall prospect nationally.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 227 pounds, Harris possesses all the capabilities and features to possibly be as good as ex-Tide rusher and 2015 Heisman winner, Derrick Henry. He showcased a small sample of his skill set on A-Day, rushing for 70 yards on 17 carries for the second-team offense.

2. Tua Tagovailoa – QB

Conversations surrounding Tua Tagovailoa state that he has a chance to be better than fellow Hawaii natives Timmy Chang and Marcus Mariota, while already having more advanced passing mechanics than Green Bay Packers signal caller Aaron Rodgers when he was University of California at Berkeley. Tagovailoa ended his tenure at St. Louis High School with 8,158 passing yards, the most in Hawaii high school football history.

He would account for 84 touchdowns in three seasons, which allowed him to garner a five-star rating from 247 Sports and 247Sports Composite. He was listed as the nation’s top-ranked dual threat quarterback by multiple recruiting networks and was named most valuable player of Nike’s “The Opening” competition and Elite 11 quarterback competition in 2016. Tagovailoa looks the part at 6-foot-1 and 219 pounds, as he displayed some of his passing acumen at the spring game.

He completed 18 of 32 passes 315 yards with three touchdowns to one interception. His ability to throw on the run as well as have both anticipation and deep ball accuracy is deadly at this stage.

1. Jerry Jeudy – WR

He is the next superstar at receiver, following Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley.

Before transferring to Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School in 2015, Jerry Jeudy and Ridley were teammates at Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, Fla. Throughout his recruitment process, Jeudy stressed to reporters on how he wanted one final year with Ridley.

At 6-foot-1, 184 pounds, the five-star prospect is lightning in a bottle.

Videos of him making defenders look foolish instantly surfaced on social media, to the delight of Crimson Tide fans. Prior to the videos getting huge, Jeudy was a household name at Deerfield Beach with 117 career receptions for 1,554 yards and 25 touchdowns through two seasons.

The connection between he and Tagovailoa was undeniable on A-Day, as Jeudy brought in two of the freshman’s three touchdown passes. He was named Dixie Howell Most Valuable Player of the Game, after recording five receptions for a team-high 134 yards to pair alongside two scores.

Defensive backs were going to have a difficult time guarding Ridley, Cam Sims and Robert Foster; however, adding Jeudy to the mix as a possible starter creates more of a head scratcher.

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.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

More in Alabama Football Impact Players