Alabama Receiver Breaks Foot During Practice

Getty TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - SEPTEMBER 25: JoJo Earle #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide stiff arms Mason Hunt #16 of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on a punt return during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 25, 2021.

The Alabama receiving corps will have to enter the 2022 season down a man. JoJo Earle, a sophomore at Alabama broke his foot during practice several days ago. Earle missed several games during his freshman season with a leg injury against New Mexico State and wouldn’t return until the Cotton Bowl playoff semifinal. 

Although he returned, a mismanaged punt return proved he was still rubbing off some rust so he was replaced for the remainder of the playoffs by Slade Bolden. Despite this mishap, Earle made the SEC’s All-Freshman team as a return specialist returning 16 punts for 88 yards on the season. 

As a receiver, he recorded 12 receptions for 148 yards. As the Tide was already losing receivers in the offseason through the draft or transfer portal it was detrimental to bring back as many receivers as possible. Although Earle will not start, it shortens the depth of the receiving corps that is already going to have two transfers as top options for the Heisman winner this season.

Coach Saban’s Remarks On Earle’s Potential

Nick Saban had high hopes for Earle and even stated he was showing “considerable progress” this offseason before going down with the injury. Early reports claimed he had a jones fracture in his foot, and could be out anytime from a month to eight weeks. 

“He was doing a really, really good job, having a really good camp,” Saban told reporters. “Probably the best he’s been on a consistent basis. Just saw a guy that grew up and was playing with a lot of confidence. We’ll miss him for a while.”

Earle would quickly gain a comparison of his own from Saban who believed his game was similar to former Tide receiver Jaylen Waddle because of his “shifty speed”. While at the University of Alabama from 2018 to 2020, Waddle caught 106 passes for 1,999 yards and 17 touchdowns. Unfortunately, Waddle suffered an ankle injury during his senior season at Alabama in a game against Tennessee. He only appeared in the first five games until returning for the championship game against Ohio State, which they won handily. 

Since his injury, Waddle was drafted sixth overall in the 2020 draft by the Miami Dolphins and as a rookie led the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns. On the bright side, Earle will get the opportunity to live up to his comparison sooner rather than later as his injury will only keep him out for around a month. 

Potential Return Dates For Earle 

With the best-case scenario of Earle missing an entire month he would return around the team’s road trip to Austin, Texas to take on the Longhorns. This will be the second game of the season and not as likely for a return given an unknown rehabilitation period. When Saban announced that Earle would “hopefully” return by the first of October. For any optimists in the room at the time, there were likely several winces painted on their faces. 

The Crimson Tide are again on the road on October first, taking on the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Razorbacks had a revival season in 2021 finishing 9-4 with a win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl. They return their star quarterback, K.J. Jefferson this year along with 10 seniors projected to start across the depth chart. Earle will certainly be needed to ensure depth in their receiving corps around this point of the season which holds games against Texas A&M, Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Louisiana State University.

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