Alabama TE Questionable for Season Opener

Getty ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 31: Cameron Latu #81 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the first quarter in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic for the College Football Playoff semifinal game at AT&T Stadium on December 31, 2021.

The presumed starter at tight end for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Cameron Latu returned to practice on Monday, August 29, 2022, head coach Nick Saban said. As he is still recovering from an undisclosed injury the Tide has watched his health very closely, even going as far as to state he might not play in their season opener against Utah State. He is still considered day-to-day with his injury being left off the first released depth chart.

Latu made the preseason All-Southeastern Conference team picked by the media not long ago. This was following the stellar junior season Latu had in 2021 with 26 receptions for 410 yards and eight touchdowns. Latu is currently expected to outperform his numbers from last year as he will have a larger role within the offense this year. Unfortunately, his current injury stands in the way of that potentially beginning in week one. 

Saban Speaks on Latu’s Recovery

The fifth-year senior out of Salt Lake City, Utah, is an exceptional weapon for Bryce Young and the offense of the Crimson Tide. This is especially true with the departure of Jameson Williams and John Metchie this past offseason. The team is confident that his injury is minuscule and that there is a good chance he will not be out long-term. 

”I don’t think anybody can predict that right now,” Saban said when asked about Latu’s availability for the home opener against Utah State. ”He’s been on the treadmill and all that stuff last week. He’s never had an issue, never had a problem. So the next thing he does is start dry-land working, doing individual, seeing what he can do in practice. It’s kind of day-to-day with him.”

Saban still refrained from making any playing time decisions as of now but we will likely know where he stands later this week. 

“We’ll see how he progresses, see how he does,” Saban said.

Saban Is Prepared to Start Others in Case of Latu’s Absence

After Latu missed all of preseason camp, Saban saw this as an opportunity to give more reps to his backups preparing them in case they had to start in week one. Saban eventually commented that he saw “significant progress” from the backups.

Saban directly mentioned one player, sophomore Robbie Ouzts from Rock Hill, South Carolina. Ouzts appeared in 11 games as a freshman in 2021, but only caught one pass for eight yards and is also currently listed as the starting tight end according to the first depth chart.

“Robbie Ouzts has done a really good job at the position,” Saban said, “but all three young guys have made significant progress and they’ll probably, you know, have some role in this game.” 

Saban was likely referring to the other three players: Miles Kitselman, Danny Lewis Jr. and Amari Niblack. All three are currently listed as backups on the depth chart. If Latu does not start against Utah State, each of these players could see playing time so that Saban can get them experience and figure out who will stay backup to Latu when he returns. 

Alabama will take on Utah State at home on September 3, 2022, in a game that Vegas currently has the Tide as 41.5-point favorites. The following week the Tide will travel to Austin for their highly-anticipated matchup with the Texas Longhorns and Latu will surely be needed.

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