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Ask Farrell: Is Waddle the biggest WR surprise among freshmen?

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position

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According to Pro Football Focus, Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle topped all true freshmen at wide receiver this season in overall and receiving grade. Rated as the seventh-best receiver in the 2018 class and the last five-star in the group, Waddle is third on Alabama behind Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs with 41 receptions for 803 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

Waddle was a late addition to the five-star rankings leading up to National Signing Day after an outstanding performance at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He was phenomenal and nearly unstoppable all week in San Antonio and shot up the rankings after that showing.

The former Houston (Texas) Episocal standout was also named to the Pro Football Focus All-American First-Team Offense. His numbers graded out that well. Better than six receivers in the freshman class ranked ahead of him.

MORE:'s 2018 wide receiver rankings


We ask National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell if he’s surprised Waddle had such an impactful freshman season and if he thought someone else higher on the list would be even better?

“I’m a bit surprised because Waddle was going into a crowded house at wide receiver at Alabama. He certainly had the skills to make that kind of impact but with Jeudy and Ruggs already somewhat established, I figured he would be a third option and put up average numbers at best.

"I am surprised that Justin Shorter (Penn State) and Mark Pope (Miami) didn’t make a bigger impact at their schools as I thought both had the skill set their teams needed. Shorter is a huge receiver with a big catch radius and Pope is an electric route runner and can score from anywhere, but neither made an impact at all. Waddle looks like a future star as does Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC) and Justyn Ross (Clemson), but the jury is still out on the others.”