At Nick Saban’s March 30 press conference, the coach spoke on the progress his team has made throughout spring practice, and laid out what he wants to see from the squad moving forward.
Saban explained, “We’ve had five practices now, and we’re making progress,” the coach continued, “But we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of guys that don’t have a lot of confidence in what to do, confidence in how to do it, and don’t have a lot of understanding in why it’s important to do it that way.”
After his opening comments on the state of the team as a whole, Saban was asked specifically about one player in particular: senior wideout Jermaine Burton.
Burton, who transferred to Alabama last season following two years at Georgia, led the Tide with 40 receptions for 677 yards and seven touchdowns, but the former four-star still clearly had room to grow.
Speaking on the former Bulldog, Saban said, “[Burton] has a lot of talent and a lot of ability, but I think consistency in performance [is important] (…) Whether it’s getting the right depth on a route, seeing the coverage as it is- just holding himself a little bit more accountable to paying attention to detail and doing the little things right.”
“When [Burton] does that he’s an outstanding player with great ability. Hopefully, if we can get him to do that, he can play with a little bit more consistency,” Saban explained.
Burton Showed Flashes of Greatness in 2022
Though Alabama’s wide receiving corps as a whole left a lot to be desired in 2022, Burton showed flashes of elite play throughout the season. In the final three games of the year, the former Bulldog turned Tide target put together an incredible stretch, hauling in 13 receptions for 265 yards and three touchdowns.
While Burton may lack the straight line speed of a player like former Bama star Jaylen Waddle, he made up for it at times with excellent route running.
Looking at two plays from last season, Burton completely shakes would be defenders at the top of his routes, making for two easy Bryce Young touchdown passes.
If the senior can put together these types of plays consistently in 2023, the sky is the limit for Burton and the Crimson Tide offense.
Who Will Step up in Alabama’s Receiving Corps?
Like previously stated, the Alabama wide receivers left a lot on the table in 2022. As a team, the Tide finished with just 3,660 passing yards which was down from the previous two seasons of over 5,000 yards in passing offense.
Returning two starters as well as several other experienced underclassmen means the receiving corps will not look too different on the surface, but expect certain players to truly make themselves known this year.
Former five-star Ja’Corey Brooks enters his third season with the program and will likely be one of three starters when the Tide takes the field against Middle Tennessee State on September 2. At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, Brooks is a physical target that uses his size to his advantage. While he may lack outright elite speed like Burton, Brooks’ blend of size and physicality make him an early favorite to be one of Alabama’s most important pieces on offense in 2023.