TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — During his Monday press conference, University of Alabama coach Nick Saban revealed that junior wide receiver Jaylen Waddle underwent successful surgery on his ankle injury suffered on the opening kickoff against Tennessee this weekend.
“I did talk to him after the game," Saban said. "They did the surgery that night. He’s been in the hospital since. He’s been pretty groggy. He was gonna come and see me today, but he just got back and I’m probably gonna talk to him later today or tomorrow. But the surgery was very, very successful."
Before the injury, Waddle was in the midst of a stellar campaign that included 25 catches for 557 yards and four touchdowns. The Houston native was averaging 139.5 receiving yards a game.
Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones says he spoke to him following the game, but it hard to watch a teammate and friend in so much distraught. He also noted that Waddle is the kind of guy who can rebound from something as catastrophic as a season-ending injury.
"I think a lot of guys saw him in the ambulance after the game walking back to the bus," Jones said. "I got to say a few words to him. It's hard to walk up to one of your closest friends and see him crying like that, just knowing that his season is kind of over and he doesn't know what his path looks like goin forward.
"Just knowing Jaylen for the last couple of years, he is one of the hardest workers I know and he is going to bounce back from something like this. That's kind of what I told him. I shot him a text again yesterday, but we are all with Jaylen. He knows that if he needs anything, he can come reach out to us and we will help him with anything that we can."
Saban compared losing Waddle to that of losing an Allen Iverson-type player.
“You can’t replace a guy like Jaylen Waddle in terms of what his ability is," Saban said. "It’s no different than losing Allen Iverson, a guy that scores 30-40 points a game. He’s that kind of impact player."
For Waddle's sake, Saban noted that former Alabama tailbacks Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry have had the same surgeries and both have still gone on to have meaningful NFL careers.
"The long-term prognosis for his surgery is very good," Saban said. "Derrick Henry had this surgery here, Kenyan Drake had this surgery here. It’s a difficult timetable to know when a guy can come back from something like this, so that’s something that’s gonna be ongoing. But probably 6-8 weeks before he can really even start real-heavy rehab, then relative to your position, how fast can you come back after that is really, really up in the air.”