Alabama is known for its ability to develop wide receivers. Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, and Calvin Ridley are just three names to burst into the first round after excelling with the Crimson Tide. While they aforementioned were all working and dazzling on Saturdays, there were two names being recruited. One of those was Eagles draft pick DeVonta Smith.
It’s easy to connect the dots behind the selection. Jalen Hurts was a teammate of DeVonta Smith back in their Alabama days and the wideout just so happens to be the most electric route-runner in the class as well as a Heisman-winning receiver. But just how deep does his relationship with Hurts go?
“Jalen, that’s my guy.” He told reporters in his first press conference after being drafted. ”Been with him in my time at Alabama. Even when I was a recruit he was the guy trying to get me to come to Alabama. That’s my guy. I have a great relationship and I’m ready to work.”
Hurts quarterbacked Bama’s offense during 2017 when Smith was a freshman. Even when buried behind an elite crop of talent, he still found a way to make an impact, catching 8 passes for 160 yards and 3 touchdowns from Jalen Hurts.
One year later saw a huge increase in production, but most of it did come from the hands of Tua Tagovailoa. Smith ended that season with 693 yards and 6 scores on 43 receptions. He’s obviously gone on to achieve a lot since then, including his remarkable 1,856 yard campaign in 2020…but he hasn’t forgotten the impact that Hurts had on him early on.
”Jalen taught everybody the game. He was just one of those guys that was a student of the game and taught everybody the game.”Smith said. “When you got reps with him, he was always telling you about coverages and rotations. The connection is there, the chemistry is there. Overall, he’s just always helped everybody else be better on the field.”
It didn’t take long for Jalen Hurts to garner a similar reputation with the Philadelphia Eagles. Earlier this offseason, he planned workouts with the team’s wide receivers out in Texas and has earned plenty of praise since being drafted by the team.
Hurts and Smith have been acquainted for quite some time and they must be close. If they weren’t, then there’s no way that Smith would be launching merchandise with the pairs faces front and center within minutes of being drafted.
The pairing showed glimpses of what could one day be during their time at Alabama...and they’ll now get a chance to finish their story at the NFL level. Fans should absolutely be excited to see what these two have in store for 2021 and beyond. While it may take the Eagles a while to get back to their perch on top of the NFC East, it looks like it will at least be a lot of fun getting there.
Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire