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Jaylen Waddle is looking forward to being an ‘every down’ wide receiver for Alabama, per Steve Sarkisian

Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle running the ball versus Auburn in 2019 Iron Bowl
Jon Reed - USA TODAY Sports

Alabama offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian had opposing defensive minds and defensive players in a frenzy after his response to a particular question on Tuesday via Zoom call.

In his first season back as a player caller, he inherited arguably the most talented wide receiver room in college football with Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. Each player in the quartet caught at least 30 passes, and the group as a whole was a nightmare to defend. Regardless of the excitement, only Jeudy, Ruggs and Smith were every down players.

Waddle, a native of Houston, Texas, made the most of his offensive opportunities — grabbing 33 passes for 560 receiving yards and six touchdowns — yet he was more so used on special teams. The 5-foot-10, 182-pounder totaled 487 punt return yards, 175 kick return yards and two scores. He was responsible for 1,227 all-purpose yards with eight touchdowns; however, Sarkisian is excited about this season with the junior receiver — especially with Jeudy and Ruggs in the National Football League.

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Sarkisian said Waddle is a joy to coach.

“He (Waddle) brings a bunch of energy every day,” Sarkisian said. “For us, especially me last year coming in, having Jeudy, Ruggs and Smitty (Devonta Smith), was like where do you get Jaylen into the game? Then, when he gets into the game, he’s playing maybe 10-15 plays and it’s how many times can you get him the ball? Coming back with Smitty and Jaylen, you feel more comforting in knowing you have more opportunities and you don’t have to force it to him. It can get to him more naturally.”

While he knows what Waddle brings in the return game, Sarkisian said he is embracing the idea of being an ‘every down’ player on offense.

“I think he is excited about the challenge and opportunity,” Sarkisian said. “He has a lot of value on our team. The guy works his tail off and I think he’s excited. We are all excited for this season for him.”

Opposition is always holding its breath when Waddle is returning kicks and punts, but how will it react to the former four-star becoming an every down target on offense? Alabama fans are about to see even more of the human joystick and it can’t wait.

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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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