To the surprise of many analysts and Alabama fans alike, Nick Saban is navigating through uncharted territory this season. His offense has struggled to find an identity. Newly named starting quarterback Jalen Milroe has been the victim of growing pains. Finding his footing has been nothing short of an adventure. Uncharacteristically poor offensive line play has not helped matters either.
DJ Hall escapes a Houston defender in 2007. Photo: The Gadsden Times

DJ Hall escapes a Houston defender in 2007. Photo: The Gadsden Times

The once heavily criticized wide receiving corps has been a bright spot this year. Getting the ball delivered to them has been a daunting task though. Those issues along with a smattering of others have caused serious concern. Then, a wakeup performance against Ole Miss happened.After finding themselves trailing to Ole Miss in the first half, the Crimson Tide headed to the locker room hoping to find answers. It wouldn’t take long. With 9:07 left to play in the 3rd quarter, Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart launched a pass deep into the Tide secondary. Terrion Arnold intercepted the pass and returned it 37 yards to the Alabama 41 yard line. It was from there Jalen Milroe would go to work.Milroe guided the Crimson Tide methodically down the field. Then, the awakening of Alabama happened. On 1st and 10 at the Ole Miss 33-yard line, Jalen heaved the ball into the air. He was taken down hard. It looked like WWE superstar Roman Reigns spearing an opponent to the turf. Meanwhile, the ball sailed into the waiting hands of freshman wide receiver Jalen Hale in the back of the endzone. Touchdown Alabama. This would be the catalyst for an eventual 24-10 victory over the Rebels.
Jalen Hale making a touchdown grab vs Ole Miss. Photo: Tuscaloosa News

Jalen Hale making a touchdown grab vs Ole Miss. Photo: Tuscaloosa News

A few weeks prior, head Coach Nick Saban desperately implored for a new quarterback candidate to “make me play you”. Well, it appears that message was received by another recipient. 6’1 189lbs wide receiver, Jalen Hale, from Longview, Texas must of felt it was directed towards him. He answered the call vs Ole Miss.He had only two catches in this contest. However, those two grabs netted him 65 yards and a touchdown. Not to mention, Hale averaged 31.5 yards per reception. So, when both opportunities arrived, he made them count. They came at critical moments in drives when his team needed it the most.Jalen Hale is a clear mismatch to any who dare defend him. His physical and athletic attributes have caused him to draw a comparison to an Alabama legend, DJ Hall. It just so happens, Hall was watching that day.
DJ Hall with a touchdown reception vs Tennessee in 2007. Photo: Tuscaloosa News

DJ Hall with a touchdown reception vs Tennessee in 2007. Photo: Tuscaloosa News

DJ Hall played at Alabama from 2004-2007. The majority of his career was spent under Mike Shula. His final season was with Nick Saban. Hall set Crimson Tide receiving yards records in 2006 (1,056) and 2007 (1,005). He also claimed quite a few others. Feats like that were unprecedented during that era. Those were times where pass catchers were not the focal point of the offense. Things have greatly changed since then.Hall watched Jalen Hale thrive this past Saturday. When I reached out to him recently for a reaction, he wasted no time sharing his thoughts. He’s pleased that the receivers are catching the ball better. That’s a welcomed change from last year. However, he was quick to point out Hale’s work, “He’s nice. I just wish we could get him the ball more.” As we continued in our conversation, we got very specific about the qualities he likes in Hale. He quickly stated, “Love the way he uses his hands to catch and the way he attacks the ball”. Game does indeed recognize game; especially when their styles match almost identically. I tried to get him to address the comparison, but he quickly deflected the conversation off himself.Jalen Hale asserted himself forcibly onto the scene. He didn’t ask permission. He just took what was his. That’s what has many Alabama fans and a legend so excited. Hale is definitely trending upward. Will it continue? Time will tell. He has the perfect opportunity in Starkville this Saturday against Mississippi State.
Jalen Hale vs Ole Miss • John David Mercer • USA Today

Jalen Hale vs Ole Miss • John David Mercer • USA Today