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Jaylen Waddle continues his strong start to 2020 with a career day versus TAMU

Jaylen Waddle runs for a touchdown versus Texas A&M
Credit: Gary Cosby Jr/The Tuscaloosa News via USA TODAY Sports

It is official… Alabama football has three players auditioning for the Heisman Memorial Trophy.

All three had strong moments versus Texas A&M in the Crimson Tide’s home opener, but Jaylen Waddle is playing on another level when it comes to wide receivers. During fall practice, Steve Sarkisian (Alabama’s offensive coordinator) told local reporters he would get Waddle more involved and the elite play caller has done it.

The junior is looking like a top-10 or maybe even a top-5 overall selection for the 2021 NFL Draft.

A native of Houston, Texas, the offseason work and growing chemistry with Mac Jones is paying off for Waddle. He led Alabama in receiving versus Missouri with 134 yards and two touchdowns on eight receptions in a 38-19 victory. On last week, Waddle shredded the Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium in a 52-24 rout.

The 5-foot-10, 182-pounder was targeted six times.

He caught five passes for a career-high 142 yards receiving and one touchdown. Texas A&M brought help from the safety spot in the third quarter to try to contain him, but Waddle got behind the defense for a 87-yard catch and burst to the end zone.

Four of his five receptions resulted in either first downs or touchdowns. After recording an average of 16.8 yards per reception in a week one matchup with the Tigers, the former four-star tallied 28.4 yards per catch versus the Aggies. Through two games, Waddle has stretched defensive secondaries thin.

Of his 13 receptions, 10 have resulted in first downs or scores for the Tide.

Nick Saban has constantly talked on the excitement he has in coaching Waddle.

RELATED: Mac Jones used a career performance versus Texas A&M to kick off his Heisman campaign

He brings so much energy and enthusiasm to the receiver room and as frustrating as he is to defend at practice, Alabama’s secondary feels more pain for opposing teams. Prior to last week, Waddle’s career high for receiving yards was 138 in the team’s meeting with Louisiana-Lafayette in 2018. He had 94 of those yards on a catch and run touchdown from Mac Jones.

As the 2018 Freshman of the Year for the Southeastern Conference, Waddle was proud of his quarterback’s performance.

Even more so than that, he is showing media personnel his abilities as a complete player.

Waddle was already fast, but now he is putting route concepts together. He is no longer a speciality player or just a return man playing receiver.

Alabama’s lighting in a bottle is an every down threat who eyes being the first receiver/return specialist to win the Heisman since Desmond Howard in 1991.

Currently, Waddle leads the Tide in receiving with 276 yards and three touchdowns.

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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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