Brian Daboll and Alabama players share plenty of nicknames
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It’s a New England thing.
At least that’s how Alabama tight end Hale Hentges explains the nicknames passed out by first-year offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. There’s a lot of them, but for the most part, Daboll just shortens the player’s name. For instance, Hentges become “Hench,” Jalen Hurts becomes “Jay,” Calvin Ridley becomes “Rid,” Najee Harris becomes “Naj” and so on down the list.
“We’re not numbers to him, we’re actual players and we’re people,” Hentges said. “That just shows why we love him so much. He knows all of us genuinely and he wants the best for us. Just things like that make it seem like he really cares about us and that’s why we love him so much.”
To be fair, some players are technically referred to as numbers. Daboll calls freshman backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is “Tu” and freshman tight end Major Tennison is “Ten.”
But you get the point.
Alabama offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher, or as Daboll calls him “Piersch,” joked that he calls his offensive coordinator “Dabes” from time to time. After all, Daboll doesn't stop at players, referring to defensive coordinator Jeremey Pruitt as “Pru.”
Pruitt himself hasn’t passed down any nicknames. Outside linebacker Rashaan Evans earned the nickname “Razor” from outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi early in his Alabama career. Wednesday, Pierschbacher announced cornerback Levi Wallace as “Prime Time 39,” playing off the nickname of former NFL cornerback Deion Sanders. There are also other name-based nicknames like “Ant” for Anthony Averett, but the aliases are more of an offensive thing.
Wallace, “or Prime Time 39,” even had a little fun with nicknames when describing Alabama’s three freshmen receivers Wednesday. The cornerback calls Jerry Jeudy “Shake 'em off the line” and Henry Ruggs III “Touchdown City.” DeVonta Smith already has the nickname of “Smitty” passed down by Daboll, but Wallace calls him “Stick 'em” due to the insane catches he makes during practice.
All those seem to make sense. Jeudy has shown an ability to get off the line and get open as evidenced by his 12 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown this season. “Touchdown City” makes sense for Ruggs given the fact that he leads the team with five touchdown receptions and all five of his catches this season have gone for scores. Smith is known for having some of the best hands on the team, so a reference to a brand of adhesive is fitting as well.
Then there are some that seem to make no sense at all. On top of his nickname of “Rid,” players also call Ridley “Wild Bill,” something former Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson used to call the receiver. The meaning behind that one is still unknown.
Of course, not everyone has a nickname. While Daboll likes to keep things loose with his players and his fellow assistants, the offensive coordinator has yet to develop a nickname for head coach Nick Saban.
For now, he’s just “Coach.”
That doesn’t look likely to change anytime soon.