Nick Saban Says Texas A&M Tight End is One Player to Watch on Saturday
In his Wednesday press conference, Nick Saban spoke about Texas A&M's 15 returning starters, but highlighted one in particular that gave the Alabama Crimson Tide trouble last season in Bryant-Denny Stadium: tight end Jalen Wydermyer.
"He is a very good player. He’s a big body. He’s very athletic. Can drop his weight and get out of a break so it makes him difficult to cover because of his size and athleticism and we certainly had a difficult time with him last year. I mean, he was responsible for several third-down conversions where we just couldn’t get him covered. Hopefully, we’ll do a little better job this year. And I think that they do a really good job of utilizing him in this offense, so we need to know where he is at all times. There’s no doubt about that."
Wydermyer was, when they took on the Tide last season, and still is a key part of the Aggies offense. In that game, Wydermyer had eight catches in 12 targets for 82 yards and was responsible for four of their 10 third-down conversions. He had more catches that game than A&M's lead wide receiver Ainais Smith.
In his freshman season in 2019, he scored two touchdowns against Alabama
In the 2021 season, Wydermyer is second in receiving yards for the Aggies only behind Smith, with 15 receptions for 176 yards and one touchdown. The physical Wydermyer has no problem catching passes in traffic also, as he showcased against Mississippi State just last week.
But his receiving talent isn't all he brings to the table. He was featured on Pro Football Focus's list of just eight tight ends in 2020 with a run-blocking grade of over 70, and he was the only one on that list of eight who took over 300 snaps as both a receiver and a run-blocker. He also took 19 snaps as a pass-blocker for the Aggies last season, playing only 13 less total offensive snaps in 2020 than the Aggies then starting QB, Kellen Mond.
Saban seems to have focused on preparing the past week for the mismatch they face in Wydermyer, but he definitely presents a threat as a key part of Texas A&M's offense in 2021. Christian Harris and Jordan Battle will have a tough time on defense trying to keep Wydermyer under wraps, especially with his ability to make catches under pressure and block as well as he does. Keeping their defense of him penalty-free will likely present the biggest challenge for the two on Saturday.
LOOK: Things from the year you were born that don't exist anymore
CHECK IT OUT: 100 sports records and the stories behind them
KEEP READING: See how sports around the world have been impacted by the coronavirus