BamaInsider Top 40 for 2020: Versatile receiver kicks off top 25
Over the next few weeks, BamaInsider will unveil its annual top-40 list for the Alabama football team. Players were rated based on their projected impact for the Crimson Tide this season. Today we continue the series by examining players 25-21.
No. 25. Slade Bolden, WR
2019 highlights: Recorded two receptions for 34 yards as a receiver. Also served as the team’s Wildcat quarterback, picking up 10 yards on four carries while adding a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Why he’s here: Alabama should continue to use Bolden in a variety of ways this season. His success as the Wildcat quarterback last year should see him continue that role. He’s also a viable option at kick returner. However, the reason why Bolden cracks the top 25 is the potential of an increased role at receiver.
Alabama loses two first-rounders in Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy but still features two potential first-rounders in DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. While the latter two will earn starting spots this season, there is an opening for the Tide’s remaining first-team role.
Bolden, 5-foot-11, 191 pounds, lined up primarily as a slot receiver last season — a role that will likely be occupied by Waddle this year. Even if Bolden isn’t one of Alabama’s three starters at wideout, he should still see plenty of targets. Keep in mind Waddle recorded 33 receptions for 560 yards and six touchdowns as the Tide’s fourth receiver last year.
No. 24. King Mwikuta, OLB
2019 highlights: Saw time in 10 games as a true freshman, recording four tackles.
Why he’s here: Alabama will need some of its young pass rushers to step up now that Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis have moved on to the NFL. Mwikuta appears to be leading the pack among the possibilities to fill in.
The 6-foot-5, 243-pounder carved out a role on special teams last season while making strides in the outside linebacker unit. Mwikuta has nice bend and is explosive off the line, making him a promising prospect at the position. The sophomore should get a shot at the starting Sam linebacker position and could develop into a nice weapon for Pete Golding’s defense.
No. 23. Ronald Williams Jr. DB
2019 JUCO highlights: Earned NJCAA All-American honors last season, recording 31 tackles with three interceptions and five pass breakups. Rated as the No. 10 JUCO prospect in this year’s class.
Why he’s here: Nick Saban doesn’t typically bring in junior college players to sit on the bench. That should hold true this year as Williams is expected to provide an instant impact to an Alabama secondary that needs to replace four of its five starters.
Williams, 6-foot-2, 188 pounds, has the ability to play both outside cornerback and Star. While he’s still new to the team, his experience at the college level should come in handy for what will be a young unit.
“He’s got really good size,” Saban said in December. “He’s played Star, safety and corner so he has versatility as a player. He played at a really good junior college program where they’ve had a lot of success and he was a real contributor to that so we’re excited about the opportunity to have a guy like that to add to the group so we’re not too awful young and get a little maturity as well.”
No. 22. Will Reichard, K
2019 highlights: Played in five games as a true freshman, connecting on 4 of 7 field-goal attempts and 21 of 22 extra-point tries. Averaged 38.0 yards on four punts and also recorded 22 touchbacks on 29 kickoffs.
Why he’s here: Reichard likely would have solved Alabama’s kicking woes last year had he not dealt with a hip-flexor injury which limited him to five games. Now fully recovered, he should provide much-needed consistency to the position.
Reichard has the ability to be a do-it-all specialist for the Crimson Tide as he was also used as a punter along with his placekicking and kickoff duties last year. Alabama will likely try to avoid giving him so many tasks in order to preserve his leg. However, he’s a nice safety net should problems arise at punter.
No. 21. Brian Robinson Jr., RB
2019 highlights: Served as Alabama’s second-leading rusher, tallying 441 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 4.59 yards per carry. Also recorded 11 receptions for 124 yards and averaged 8.67 yards on three kickoff returns.
Why he’s here: Robinson didn’t quite have the breakout year many were expecting last season as his 4.59 yards per carry was the lowest average among the Tide’s primary backs. Still, the senior is a dependable option in the backfield and should continue to take on a notable role in Alabama’s attack.