True freshman wide receiver Javon Baker made his Alabama debut this past weekend against Tennessee, but he has impressed at least one of his new teammates during practice.
“I haven’t matched up against him, but he’s a great player,” Crimson Tide safety Jordan Battle said. “He has great routes and he has probably the greatest hands on the team. He has strong hands. As a player, he reminds me of, almost like an Amari Cooper type of guy.”
With the injury to star receiver and returner Jaylen Waddle, Alabama needs players to step up, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Slade Bolden was the next man up in Knoxville and caught six passes for 94 yards against the Vols. But what about a fourth receiver?
Baker was the fourth receiver to see the field at Neyland Stadium, entering the game on the Hail Mary attempt before halftime. He also checked in with the rest of the second-team offense on the final drive but did not record any stats in the first action of his college career.
Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban was asked about Baker and his progress on Monday.
“Javon has a big catch radius,” Saban said. “He’s got really good hands. Very physical player. I think with our young guys, the challenge with them has been you guys have to be able to go out there and know what to do, do it with confidence and get some consistency in performance.
“They’re all capable, and those are the guys that we need to show some maturity now in being able to prepare for the game, know what to do, go out there and execute it so we can utilize some of the talents that they have. And he’s certainly one of the guys that could help us do that.”
Saturday was the first game Baker — as well as fellow freshman Traeshon Holden — has played in this season, but with Waddle out for the year, it doesn’t appear to be the last. A 4-star recruit out of Powder Springs, Ga., the 6-foot-2, 195-pound wide receiver was a Top247 prospect and the nation’s No. 34 wideout in 2020, per the industry-generated 247Sports Composite.
Could we see Baker or another freshman take on a larger role moving forward?
“The freshman guys, they work hard,” Bolden said. “I think they finally understand what’s expected of them. They have to just continue to prepare and continue to work hard because it’s just like me — you never know when your name might be called and you have to be ready. But they’ve been working hard, and I think we have a great group of freshmen. Good guys for sure, and I think they’re gonna help us out in the future for sure.”
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