Next season has the makings of being special for Jahleel Billingsley.
He took the spotlight for the University of Alabama in its last seven games in 2020 and now has a chance to become one of the players in college football. Billingsley has a new offensive coordinator as a junior, but he works very well with tight ends.
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A native of Chicago, Ill., he is coming off a season where he totaled 18 receptions for 287 yards and three touchdowns. His scores came versus Auburn, LSU, and Notre Dame as Billingsley helped the Crimson Tide capture a Southeastern Conference title and a national championship. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder came onto the scene against Kentucky and carried his consistency throughout the rest of the season. A former four-star, Billingsley showed his hurdling abilities, hands, speed, and proficiency in routes.
O.J. Howard and Irv Smith were playmakers at the position; however, Billingsley eyes an opportunity to be better than both and become a potential first-round draft selection. Bill O’Brien produced success with tight ends at Penn State, New England Patriots, and Houston Texans, but two former Tide standouts see the offensive play-caller having a lot of fun with Billingsley.
Hale Hentges, who hails from Jefferson City, Mo., played tight end at Alabama from 2015 to 2018. He was on three SEC championship teams (2015-16, 2018) and two College Football Playoff National Championship teams (2015, 2017).
During his career, Hentges was primarily a blocking tight end. He recorded 14 catches for 124 yards with six touchdowns in 59 games, but his best years came in 2017 and 2018. The 6-foot-5, 254-pounder totaled 10 receptions for 109 yards and six scores combined for both seasons. He played two years with Smith at Alabama, and Hentges sees a lot of Smith in Billingsley’s game.
“He was just killing out there last year,” Hentges said of Billingsley. “I have never seen a tight end run routes that smooth. He was a wide receiver on the field, and he was just blowing by guys. He is going to have an incredible year in the fall, and I expect Jahleel to play early on Sundays.”
Mike McCoy, the founder of Maximum Performance Institute in Birmingham, Ala., was a receiver for the Tide from 2006 to 2009. He tallied 54 catches for 547 yards receiving and three touchdowns in his career. McCoy was one of a few Mike Shula recruits that bought into Nick Saban’s system. He played a big role on the 2009 SEC championship and BCS national title team.
McCoy is expecting big things from John Metchie, but his eyes are also on Billingsley.
*McCoy talks on Jahleel Billingsley at the 38:43 mark
“He is a mismatch,” McCoy said of Alabama’s tight end on In My Own Words. “He reminds you of Evan Engram who played at Ole Miss. He is a natural pass catcher, he has versatility, he’s shifty, and he can separate with his size. How do you guard that? I think he will wreck the SEC as Kyle Pitts did at Florida.”
Whoever wins the quarterback job, Billingsley will be highly targeted. He is in for a monster year for the Tide.
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