Alabama's Jaylen Waddle out for Season After Suffering Broken Ankle Injury

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 24, 2020

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) pulls in a pass over Mississippi defensive back A.J. Finley (21) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. Alabama won 63-48. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a broken ankle in the first quarter of Saturday's game against Tennessee.

Waddle went down on the opening kickoff when a Tennessee defender was bringing him down for a tackle.

CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ

Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle headed to the locker room after rolling his ankle on the opening kickoff https://t.co/68wyzAZW72

“It’s a shame because the guy is a great player. It’s exciting for college football to see a guy play like that. I hate it," Alabama coach Nick Saban said on the CBS broadcast. 

Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports noted Waddle left the stadium in an ambulance. 

A first-team All-SEC selection in 2019, Waddle was off to a blazing start to the 2020 campaign. He recorded 25 receptions for 557 yards and four touchdowns, recording at least 120 yards in each of Alabama's first four games.

"He's fun to watch, that's for sure, whether he's in punt return, kickoff return or playing on the field," Alabama coach Saban told reporters. "I think the big thing is that Jaylen has sort of expanded his role and his game to where he can play all the positions at receiver now. We can move him around, whereas before he was mostly a slot guy.

"Now he can make plays anywhere on the field, and I think that's very helpful. You expect people to double [cover] guys like him, and when you can move him around, it makes it a little more difficult for the defense."

Mac Jones was off to a Heisman-worthy start because of the presence of Waddle's deep-ball brilliance and DeVonta Smith on intermediate routes. His absence will put an onus on John Metchie and Slade Bolden to step up and become reliable downfield targets. 

Waddle is currently a top-15 lock for April's NFL draft and a potential top-10 selection. A lower-extremity injury isn't something to be messed around with, and it's possible that the injury could hurt his draft stock.

While it's far from the top concern at the moment, this is another example of why top college prospects may think twice about playing after establishing their draft position. Ja'Marr Chase, the draft's top wideout, is sitting out the 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Chase is still expected to be a top-five pick.