Jaylen Waddle flown to Birmingham after fracturing ankle
- Mike Rodak | mrodak@al.com
October 24, 2020

Photo Credit - Crimson Tide Photos / UA Athletics
Alabama coach Nick Saban said wide receiver Jaylen Waddle will be flown to Birmingham by private jet Saturday evening and could undergo surgery on a fractured ankle.

Although Saban told CBS at halftime that Waddle is out for the season, the coach left the door slightly open for Waddle’s return in his postgame video news conference.

“It’s really a sad time for me, for Jaylen Waddle, for his family,” Saban said. "It’s a high-ankle sprain, but also a fracture. They’ll probably have to do surgery on him.

“We’re going to fly him back privately with the doctors and take him right to Birmingham, and see what we have to do right away. If that’s the case -- and we’re pretty certain that it is -- then he would probably be out for the year.”

Saban compared the injury Waddle suffered on the opening kickoff of Saturday’s game at Tennessee to the one experienced by former Alabama running back Kenyan Drake in 2014.

Waddle’s right ankle was fractured when he was tackled at the end of his kickoff return that he took out of the end zone.

“You’re not supposed to bring a ball out when you’re that deep in the end zone, but he’s a great player, so you got to let him use his judgment," Saban told CBS at halftime.

Waddle, a junior who topped 100 receiving yards in each of the first four games this season, is eligible to enter the NFL draft after this season.

“The guy is a great player,” Saban said. “He’s a great teammate. He’s an exciting player to watch. I hate it that people in college football can’t see a great player the rest of this season, but we had some other guys step up tonight and it will create an opportunity for somebody else. We’re going to coach the players that we have, and do the best we can to try to get better.”

Without Waddle, the Tide still managed 587 yards of offense in a 48-17 win. John Metchie led the team with seven catches for 151 yards, while Slade Bolden -- who effectively replaced Waddle in the offense -- caught six passes for 94 yards while losing a fumble.

“[The injury] was tough,” Metchie said. “Of course, it’s tough hearing that with everything that’s going on as the game is going on, and having to hear that one of your brothers went down. But I think we responded well and were focusing on the most important thing, which is the next play at hand.”

Metchie said players heard about the injury on the sideline later in the first quarter.

Mike Rodak is an Alabama beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.