ORLANDO, Fla. — While many juniors in college football choose to sit out of their respective bowl games in order to stay healthy for the 2020 NFL Draft, others opt to don the jersey of their school one last time.
Alabama junior offensive lineman Jedrick Wills, Jr., is among the latter.
After the Crimson Tide’s practice Saturday on an overcast day at the indoor practice facility of Central Florida, Wills made clear that his dedication to his team overrides his thoughts on his future as Alabama prepares for its Citrus Bowl matchup against Michigan.
“I feel like no matter what I was going to play,” Wills said. “If I had the opportunity to leave or if I didn’t. If I was a, like, first-round draft pick or if I was a fifth-round draft pick. No matter where I was standing or if I had the opportunity to leave I would still play just because, you know, just to be there for my brothers. Play for the last time in the Alabama uniform.”
Wills isn’t the only junior playing for the Crimson Tide in the Citrus Bowl. Wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith, running back Najee Harris, fellow offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood and defensive back Xavier McKinney are all expected to play against the Wolverines.
Redshirt-junior outside linebacker Terrell Lewis is the only junior to openly sit out of the New Years’ Day bowl game.
Wills talked briefly about the meaning of so many juniors deciding to play for Alabama potentially for the final time.
“It shows a lot,” Wills said. “It’s just like a bond that can’t be broken, so I kind of put it that way.”
Earlier in December it was reported that junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was going to host a meeting with his teammates to discuss their potential return for the 2020 season. Wills denied that such a meeting has occurred.
“We didn’t have that,” Wills said. “I don’t know if [Tagovailoa] mentioned it or not or when it's going to happen but we haven’t had anything like that yet.”
Wills has been a focal point of the Alabama offensive line in a season that many fans consider disappointing.
The disappointment of the fan base has caused a change in attitude of the team, according to the 6-foot-5 lineman.
“It’s been a completely different attitude because people think we fell off,” Wills said. “Like we lose two games here and people think that like we had the worst season ever. A lot of teams don’t even go even so just something for us to kind of make a statement.”
Regarding whether Wills has made his decision, he chose to remain quiet on the matter.
“I get asked about it all the time,” Wills said. “I’m just kind of focusing on this game, enjoying this time in Orlando. Just trying to get the game plan together as of now.”