TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Throughout the years, athletic coaches have used a variety of methods to form bonds among players in hopes of creating a strong, unified team.
However, for this year's Alabama offense, the foundation of the team centers on one key element: inner competition.
It's especially true with the Crimson Tide receiving corps, which is led by a foursome that resembles an all-star group.
“It just keeps our spirit up,” junior wide receiver Henry Ruggs III said. “We’re competitive guys, and we’re brothers so that doesn’t do nothing but make us closer. We’re competitive, and that keeps us from being complacent.
"Honestly we compete with everything. From basketball to trying to write a poem or anything like that. Video games is a big thing, too. We compete.”
The friendly competitive nature of the wide receivers hasn’t gone unnoticed, even by Alabama coach Nick Saban.
"Average players, they would like to just be left alone," Saban said. "Good players really want to be coached and great players want to be told the truth, and these guys are always seeking the truth in terms of what they can do — character, attitude, competitor, technical execution at their position — to get better.
“I have a lot of respect what those guys have done here and how much I think they can improve in the future and be even more productive.”
When it comes to the quarterback position, however, redshirt sophomore Mac Jones says that their friendly competitions have more of a mentor/mentee relationship.
“I’ve learned a lot from Tua [Tagovailoa] and Jalen [Hurts],” Jones said. “I’ve watched, learned, listened, and just tried to grow learning from them. Obviously Tua’s a great player, we’ve formed a great bond over the last few years, and you don’t have to be on the field to be learning and taking mental reps.
“I feel like the mental reps that I’ve gotten just standing on the sideline and watching in practice we’re all learning from each other, I find a way to get better every day and you got to be ready to go.”
Jones said that even though he is at a different position, the competitive nature of the wide receivers has rubbed off on him and his teammates.
““We definitely have a really good receiving corps, and it’s a lot easier to play quarterback when you throw short passes and they make plays for you, but I think they do bond really well,” Jones said. “They call themselves ‘The Rideouts’, and they’re always together and hanging out and we obviously have a good bond with them as quarterbacks and our whole offense really came together this summer.
“We’ve got great players. Everybody can play. I’m really looking forward to seeing them work together.”