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Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle to be even faster this season

Matt Bush - USA TODAY Sports

He destroyed opposing defensive secondaries bad enough last season, but Jaylen Waddle got a twinkle in his eye on Thursday in talking about Steve Sarkisian running the offense. 

After having a season where he won multiple freshman honors – including Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American – there remains a possibility for the sophomore to be even faster this year.

The native Texan finished second in receptions (45) and receiving yards (848) in 2018, while posting seven touchdowns (tied for third on team).

His performance of 113 yards on four catches with a score versus Georgia helped the Crimson Tide secure a 35-28 win in the SEC Championship Game.

RELATED: WATCH: Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle speak to media, prior to 19th practice

As a preseason All-SEC first team selection, Waddle is working on manipulating his routes to make it “more believable.” 

“I just want to get in and out of my routes a little faster,” Waddle said. “I’m trying to set up the defensive back and make him go where I want him to go. It’s about cleaning up my releases.” 

While the Tide’s secondary pushes Waddle to work harder, the four-star learns a lot from watching Jerry Jeudy execute the craft. Alabama’s returning Biletnikoff Award winner and consensus All-American led the team in catches (68), yards (1,315) and scores (14) in 2018. 

The native Floridian projects as a top-five pick for next year’s NFL Draft 

“Just watching him, he runs really good routes,” Waddle said of Jeudy. 

“So, just watching him play, I pick up on certain things he does.” 

When he is not watching Jeudy, Waddle learns from Holmon Wiggins. 

Wiggins, Alabama’s wide receivers’ coach, came over from Virginia Tech in replacing Josh Gattis — who is now at Michigan as offensive coordinator.

According to Waddle, he said the first-year assistant under Nick Saban is big on “details” and “ball security” for wide outs. 

He is excited for more opportunities in the return game, especially after seeing opponents kick away from late in 2018. Waddle anticipates seeing action on kicker return; however, he really wants to line up outside at receiver.

Hopefully, Sarkisian will find ways to move him around to occupy the attention of defenses.

With players such as Shyheim Carter, Trevon Diggs, Patrick Surtain II and Josh Jobe pushing him to be better, it will be more head scratching for defensive coordinators upon seeing No. 17 in crimson and white with the football.  

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

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