06 June 2008
We now stand just 84 days from kick-off against Clemson at the Georgia Dome, recently announced as an 8 p.m. EST game time. With that in mind, we will be posting individual player profiles with a look ahead to their 2008 seasons.
This process will begin with the Seniors, followed by the Juniors, Sophomores & then Redshirt Freshmen. The incoming signees will be tough to evaluate, but once the fall camp opens and word starts to get out, we'll do our best to make a guess as to how they fit into the puzzle.
Bama has 12 scholarship Seniors, and one contributing walk-on Senior. We'll tackle things going straight down the roster numerically. Check back daily for future profiles:
Will Oakley #7 WR 6-1 197 lbs - Ponte Verde Beach, FL - Nease HS - 2 Varsity Letters
Will came to Alabama as a part of Mike Shula’s first recruiting class, and was the first, and possibly fastest, of the 3 gulf coast receivers (DJ Hall
& Keith Brown
) to commit to Alabama. Unfortunately that speed took a major hit at Alabama when hamstring injuries cropped up, costing him the opportunity to compete for playing time in both the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Eventually it was determined that Will had disproportionate strength in his quadriceps muscles, which caused his hamstrings to overexert themselves and pull. Not blessed with tremendous size or strength, once his speed was taken down a notch, he lacked the overall athleticism that is required to be a successful receiver in the SEC.
Despite that, he still managed to catch 18 passes for 223 yards in his first 13 collegiate games, and looked to be building towards a larger role in 2007. It didn’t happen. While he saw the field in 10 of Bama’s 13 games, shoulder injuries cropper up, and he caught just 1 pass for 16 yards. His ability to block kept him a part of the receiver rotation throughout most of the season, but as Alabama’s passing game stalled over the second half of the season, there were less opportunities.
2008 Prospectus: Despite the loss of Bama’s top 3 receivers Will was not able to move up the depth chart during the spring, as several receivers who redshirted during the 2007 season moved ahead of him. While his ability to block, his game experience, and the discipline with which he carries out his assignments, kept him as a part of the rotation all spring, the size, strength & athleticism of the receivers in Bama’s 2008 signing class should outweigh the positives that he possesses.
How much he plays will depend on the learning curve of those incoming guys when they arrive in August, as well as the number of 4 and 5 wide sets in Jim McElwain’s offense. I can’t imagine Bama running more than an 8 or 9 man rotation at receiver (if that many), and barring redshirts for several highly touted incoming freshmen, I look for Will to be the 9th or 10th guy after a few games.
If his hamstring or shoulder injuries appear again over the summer, the fact that he already has his degree from the University could lead to him giving up football.
Next up tomorrow: Nikita Stover