What Hale Hentges on the John Mackey Award watch list means for Alabama

John David Mercer USA Today Sports

Alabama hasn’t been known for their tight ends. OJ Howard was the MVP of the 2016 National Championship game and a first-round draft pick in 2016 but he was never the featured wide receiver for Alabama. Howard finished with the best receiving statistics for a tight end under Nick Saban but was underutilized at times. Previous tight ends were used primarily as a blocker and were built somewhat like having an additional offensive lineman. Tight ends at Alabama were not a big role in the passing attack, however, after being underutilized in the first few years at Alabama one tight end is finally gaining recognition.

On July 20th the John Mackey Award watch list was released and on the list was Alabama tight end, Hale Hentges. The Mackey Award is given annually to the best tight end in college football and it is even an honor for Hentges to be on the watch list. Hentges can be a forgotten part of the offense at times. His statistics do not wow you when seen on paper but he has played in 43 games since his freshman year and done what he has been asked. This past year Hentges had a career-high seven receptions for 75 yards and three touchdowns. While these statistics might not jump off the page he has also been a reliable blocker for Jalen Hurts and running backs Damien Harris, Bo Scarborough, and Josh Jacobs.

Hentges being on the Mackey Award watch list means that Alabama is being recognized for one of their hardworking players. Hentges has been playing since his freshman year and provides leadership and a vocal presence in the locker room. Hentges and Irv Smith combined for six touchdowns in 2017 and there is a strong possibility they could combine for more this year.  With three new starting wide receivers at Alabama this year look for Hale Hentges to get more involved in the passing attack. At 6’5 249 pounds he is a mismatch for defensive backs and linebackers and has experience as a blocker. Hentges provides what Alabama wants in a tight end and has shown glimpses of what he can do in the passing game.

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