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Alabama Football Impact Players

Alabama freshman Jahleel Billingsley developing nicely at tight end

Photo comes via Jahleel Billingsley's twitter account

He is having to grow quickly in the loss of Miller Forristall, but the coaching staff is impressed with what it has in the freshman. People were in awe of Nick Saban’s recruiting power in him landing John Metchie from Canada, but signing Jahleel Billingsley was just as monumental. 

Billingsley, a native of Chicago, Ill., was the first player from Illinois the Crimson Tide signed for football since 1997. A multi-sport athlete at Phillips Academy, he juggled football and basketball for the Wildcats and was a four-star recruit via Touchdown Alabama Magazine. 

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He chose the Tide over five other schools – including Auburn, LSU and Florida of the Southeastern Conference. The 6-foot-4, 228-pounder has the potential to be as good as former standouts, O.J. Howard and Irv Smith Jr.

Both players excelled at tight end and are now in the National Football League.

Billingsley has played in six games this season, but his first big contribution happened last week versus Mississippi State. He recorded his first career catch, which was a 19-yard grab and he finished the play by running over a defender on the sideline. 

DeVonta Smith, a junior at wide receiver, said the freshman makes plays like this in practice every day.

Throughout the week, he was spotted as the No. 2 guy in his position group. 

According to Nick Saban, Billingsley has the capability to be the complete package. 

“We have been using him more and more in the games each week,” Saban said.  

“He has a lot of potential. He’s improved a lot as a blocker and I do think he can make a contribution. I think knowledge and experience is really important to him, so he is confident in what he’s supposed to do.  He’s a very athletic guy. He’s a good pass catcher, but he’s really made a lot of improvement as a blocker.” 

On Wednesday, Billingsley joined Kendall Randolph in assisting the offensive line with various blocking schemes. Jeff Banks, Alabama’s tight ends coach, has done a great job of developing Billingsley and is willingness to an all-around smart player will pay dividends in the long run. 

With two games left in the regular season and potential at the College Football Playoff, we may see more marquee plays from him very soon.  

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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.

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.

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