History of Recent Alabama Wide Receivers in Championship Games

Alabama Crimson Tide will play in their 8th National Championship Game under head coach Nick Saban. Among many positions, wide receivers has long been a successful one for Alabama.

This article looks at the last 7 Alabama wide receivers drafted in the first round, all of whom have experience playing in National Championship Games.

Julio Jones 

Drafted by Falcons #6 in 2011

Jones played for Alabama from 2008-2010, playing 40 games. Only 1 of his 179 career catches came in the 2009 BCS Championship Game against Texas. Alabama won 37-21. The Tide ran for over 200 yards and QB Greg McElroy completed just 6 passes. Jones did have the longest catch for Alabama, with a long of 23 yards, which accounted for almost half of McElroy’s 58 yards. 

In 2008, Jones caught 7 passes for 77 yards in a Sugar Bowl loss to Utah and in 2010, caught 3 passes for 49 yards in a Capital One Bowl win over Michigan State. 

Calvin Ridley

Drafted by Falcons #26 in 2018

Ridley played 44 games between 2015-2017, including 3 straight National Championships. Ridley caught 60+ passes, for 760+ yards, and 5+ TDs in each of his three seasons. 

In all three Championship Games, Ridley led Alabama in catches, but was held to under 10 yards per catch. 

  • 2015 – 6 catches, 14 yards in a 45-40 win over Clemson
  • 2016 – 5 catches, 36 yards in 35-31 loss to Clemson 
  • 2017 – 4 catches, 32 yards, TD in 36-23 win over Georgia

Amari Cooper 

Drafted by Raiders #4 in 2015

From 2012-2014, Cooper was a star. Entering 2020, Cooper was the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards (3,463) and touchdowns (31) until Devonta Smith’s season happened. 

As a freshman in 2012, Cooper was a star in a 42-14 BCS Championship Game win over Notre Dame. Cooper had 6 catches, for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns. 

Not a championship, but worth noting Cooper’s career ended in the Playoffs in the last game between Alabama and Ohio State. Cooper had 9 catches for 71 yards and 2 TDs, but it wasn’t enough and Alabama lost to the eventual champions, 42-35. 

Jerry Jeudy

Drafted by Broncos #15 in 2020

Jeudy (2017-2019) played in the Championship Game his first two seasons, before ending his career in the Citrus Bowl in 2019. 

In the 26-23 Championship win over Georgia, Jeudy had one, 20 yard catch. 
To end the 2018 season,. Alabama got torched in the Championship against Clemson, losing 44-16. Before the route started, Jeudy scored a 62 yard touchdown on Alabama’s first possession of the game. He finished with 5 catches for 139 yards and that one touchdown. 

Henry Ruggs

Drafted by Raiders #12 in 2020

Ruggs followed the same path as Jeudy, playing at Alabama from 2017-2019, before both were drafted in the first round of the 2020 draft. Ruggs was released midway through the 2021 NFL season by the Raiders following some serious legal issues.

Against Georgia at the end of the 2017 season, 9 Tide players caught a pass and Ruggs was one of four with multiple catches. Ruggs caught 3 passes for 29 yards and Tua Tagovailoa’s first (of 3) second half touchdowns. 

Ruggs was a non-factor that following year in the Clemson blowout, catching one three yard pass. 

Jaylen Waddle

Drafted by Dolphins #7 in 2021

Waddle hasn’t had a ton of statistical success for Alabama in Championship Games, but his accomplishment in 2021 may outweigh anything else in this article. Waddle suffered a broken ankle/foot in late October, and despite his injury being deemed “season-ending”, he managed to return and catch 3 passes for 34 yards in the championship, despite a noticeable limp.

In the 2019 loss to Clemson, Waddle caught 2 passes for 25 yards

DeVonta Smith

Drafted by Eagles #10 in 2021

Smith became the first wide receiver since 1991 to win the Heisman Trophy in 2020. He followed up that win, by catching 12 passes for 215 yards and 3 touchdowns in the 2021 Championship Game against Ohio State. He did it in 3 quarters, as he left with an injury.

Smith’s career in Championship Games also includes the game-winning touchdown in 2018 when Alabama beat Georgia. Tua Tagovailoa came in after halftime to relieve Jalen Hurts and after taking a long sack on first down, completed a 41 yard pass to Smith in overtime to win the game.

During the 2019 Championship Game, Smith caught a team-high 6 passes for 65 yards, in a game where Alabama got blown out 44-16.

Mike is an alum of the University of Cincinnati and the ultimate sports nerd.

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