Alabama lost its best remaining receiver in the second quarter of its 33-18 college football playoff championship game loss to Georgia when Jameson Williams fell after making a long reception.
Williams fell to the field after a non-contact injury, hyperextending his knee. He had to be helped off the field before he entered the Crimson Tide locker room.
Williams did not return to the game, but it was not for lack of trying, as Alabama coach Nick Saban revealed. during his post-game press conference.
“He really wanted to play in the second half,” Saban said of Williams. “And the medical staff didn’t let him, which I think was smart because he has a future as a soccer player.”
Williams, a junior, recorded 79 receptions for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns during his first season at Alabama after transferring from Ohio State. He is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. As such, Saban wanted to protect Williams’ future after his strong performance for Crimson Tide during the season.
“This guy contributed enormously to our team throughout the year,” Saban said. “He has great speed. He’s a vertical threat. I think our offensive coaches did a great job using his talent this year. He has been very productive. So every time you lose players like this, it has an impact on your team.”
In fact, Alabama was affected by the loss of Williams. They had already lost their other great receiver, John Metchie, to a torn ACL during the SEC Championship Game. With both out of action, Crimson Tide had to rely on veteran Slade Holden along with a collection of inexperienced freshmen and sophomores – Traeshon Holden, Ja’Corey Brooks and Agiye Hall – to carry the load as catcher.
While the young playmakers made some big catches, their lack of experience both on the field and working with Bryce Young made it difficult for Alabama to constantly move the ball against a staunch Georgia defense.
Still, Saban praised them for their efforts to try and replace Williams.
“I’m not disappointed in how they responded to that,” Saban said.
As for Williams, he returned to the Alabama bench during the second half wearing his jersey over a crimson tracksuit. He stood alongside Metchie and cheered on his team in defeat.
Williams was walking down the Alabama sideline, but the team was unable to provide an update on the severity of his injury after the game.
“We won’t know the extent of the knee injury until we have an MRI scan,” Saban said.