Alabama wide receiver Chris Black (5) dives for more yards against Georgia State linebacker Kight Dallas. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
In his second year in the program and having not played many meaningful snaps, Alabama wide receiver Chris Black became frustrated.
Black, a former four-star recruit, redshirted in 2012 because of an injury, but expected to push for playing time in 2013. However, with a log jam at his position last season, Black played almost always in mop-up duty.
“Of course, it was frustrating,” Black said. “The coaches understood. It was a depth thing. It wasn’t anything I took personally. I still came out and did what I had to do every day in practice.”
Black enrolled early along with fellow receiver Amari Cooper in 2012. Black put up impressive numbers in the Tide’s scrimmages and appeared to be heading for a prominent role in his first season, but a hit from teammate Ryan Anderson in an August practice sidelined Black all season with a shoulder injury.
Heading into his third season with the Tide, Black has found new life as key players ahead of him on the depth chart have completed their eligibility. While Alabama returns Cooper and seniors Christion Jones and DeAndrew White at receiver, the Tide lost Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood. Black hopes to fill one of those roles.
“I feel I was a lot more focused (this offseason),” Black said. “I didn’t worry too much about making mistakes as much. Just focused on my game and focused on the good things I can do.”
With White out as he recovered from toe surgery, Black was one of the top three receivers with Cooper and Jones this spring.
During the A-Day Game this past Saturday, Black was the leading receiver for both teams with three receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown. On his score, Black showcased why many consider him one of the most explosive players on the team with the ball in his hands. He ran a short slant route and turned it into a 55-yard touchdown after breaking a tackle.
“He’s something awful to cover, too,” Tide safety Jarrick Williams said. “He’s pretty good. Quick. He’s a shifty slot guy. He can do it all.”
When White returns, he likely will push Black to the fourth receiver spot, but with new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin coming in, the personnel groupings aren't clear at this point.
What makes Black different than other receivers?
“Being versatile. I can be in the slot or outside,” Black said. “I’ve really made a lot of progress playing outside this spring with DeAndrew White being out; taking more reps outside than I’ve done in the past.”
Contact Anniston Star Sports Writer Marq Burnett email@example.com. On Twitter: @Marq_Burnett.