KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Alabama coach Nick Saban said junior wide receiver Jaylen Waddle is out for the rest of the season after hurting his right ankle on the opening kickoff Saturday against Tennessee.
“It’s a shame because the guy’s a great player,” Saban told CBS at halftime. “It’s exciting for college football to see a guy playing like that. I hate it that he gets hurt on a play like that. You’re not supposed to bring the ball out when you’re that deep in the end zone, but he’s a great player, so you’ve got to let him use his judgment.”
Waddle took the opening kickoff and got out to the Alabama 15 when tackled by Kenneth George Jr. Waddle’s right foot got caught between the grass and George’s body and turned. Waddle was helped off the field putting no weight on his right foot before being carted to the locker room.
Waddle has been one of the nation’s top punt returners the past two years and has seldom had the ball kicked his way this year.
He had 733 yards on punt returns in his career, ranking sixth in Alabama history. Waddle currently leads all Crimson Tide returners averaging 19.3 yards per punt return in his career, nearly six years better than second place.
Waddle opened this season with at least 120 yards receiving in each of the first four games and led Alabama with 557 yards on just 25 catches. Waddle was averaging 22.3 yards per catch and had four touchdowns.
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