COLUMN: Black may be able to, but should not play

Is it February? No? Fine. But it definitely is August, right?


Sorry, again. Normally, hype around unproven true freshmen like Chris Black only centers around signing day and the beginning of preseason camp.

Now, here we go again.

The leg injury to Kenny Bell that has likely ended his season has sent the Alabama coaching staff on yet another search for production at the wide receiver position, also losing DeAndrew White to a knee injury early in the season.

The crisis of sorts has forced the coaching staff to turn to Black, the Jacksonville native, as a possible player in the SEC Championship game, therefore ruining his redshirt season for one or two games.

Saban has said the following on Black and the status of the wide receivers group.

Fortunately or unfortunately, one of those guys that we lost is now ready to come back. He’s been practicing for three weeks now. Now he’s been cleared. So we’re going to try to get him some reps because we’re getting down to where we only have maybe five guys that have much experience at the position.

Now, excuse me if I am mistaken, but I’ve never seen a formation with more than five wide receivers on the field. Have you?

A look at the roster tells me that Alabama is fine at the wide receiver position, without Black.

Alabama still has two of its top three receivers in terms of yards: fellow Floridian freshman Amari Cooper with 767 yards and a team-high 45 catches, plus Kevin Norwood, who is second only to Cooper in receptions with 26 and has 395 yards out of it.

Behind Norwood in receiving yards is Christion Jones with 306. Beyond that is Cyrus Jones, who you have seen returning punts at times and catching four passes on the season.

Even more, we have yet to mention Danny Woodson, Jr., Marvin Shinn, or unheralded senior Nathan McAlister.

By my count, that’s seven wide receivers and for the most part, a maximum of four wide receiver spots on the field to fill. However, more often than not Alabama will trot out three wideouts (as the depth chart specifies), and conveniently, three of those seven names above (Chr. Jones, Cooper and Norwood) have more than 20 receptions and stand at Nos. 1, 2 and 4 on the team in catches.

With that type of talent and production at-the-ready, I see no reason to burn the redshirt on a player who, according to some, was one of the best players in a talent-rich recruiting class.

Although they are the two most important games of the season, being the only two in postseason play, are those two games worthy of throwing away an entire year of eligibility for a potential stand-out wide receiver for only two games, especially when the current recruiting class only has one true wide receiver (Raheem Falkins) and the 2015 and possibly ‘16 teams could really use another playmaker at the position?


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