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Alabama football: Wide receiver Metchie leaving; Defensive players Dale, Hellams staying
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Alabama football: Wide receiver Metchie leaving; Defensive players Dale, Hellams staying

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On a day packed with Alabama roster news, perhaps the biggest headline came late Friday afternoon.

Receiver John Metchie will enter the NFL Draft after hiring an agent, the William Morris Agency announced just before 4 p.m. CT. ESPN reported earlier Friday he was intending to forgo his fourth season for the professional ranks.

He joins Jameson Williams and Slade Bolden in the draft process meaning Alabama will be without its top three wide receivers from the 2021 season. All told, the Crimson Tide is losing 73 percent of its receptions, 74 percent of its receiving yardage and 66 percent of its receiving touchdowns.

Metchie had 96 catches for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns before tearing his ACL in the second quarter of the SEC title game win over Georgia. He first made his presence known as a sophomore catching 55 passes for 916 yards in Alabama’s national title-winning season.

He was the top returnee for 2021 and paired nicely with Williams, the Ohio State transfer. Metchie caught more of the short to intermediate routes, thus his catch count was 17 higher than Williams despite playing in two fewer games. The Canadian import had four 100-yard games, just missing his fifth when going down with his ACL injury with 97 yards on six catches in Atlanta.

Alabama will have a lot to replace without Metchie, Williams (79 catches, 1,572 yards) and Bolden (42 catches, 408 yards). Traeshon Holden is the top returning receiver currently on the roster with 21 receptions and 239 yards.

Also exiting are transfers Jahleel Billingsley (17 catches, 256 yards) and Javon Baker (7 catches, 101 yards).

Defensive players Dale, Hellams staying at Alabama

Alabama defensive lineman DJ Dale and safety DeMarcco Hellams have decided not to enter the 2022 NFL Draft and will return to Alabama for their senior seasons.

The two both cited wanting to win a national championship as part of the reason for wanting to return. Alabama lost in the college playoff national title game this past Monday to Georgia 33-18.

Dale made his announcement Friday in an Instagram post writing, “We didn’t end this season the way we wanted to and there is still work to be done.”

Hellams also made his announcement on Instagram.

“When I chose to come to the University of Alabama, I had three main goals — get my degree, be a leader for my teammates and win multiple championships. I still need time to take care of all three, and I can only do so by staying one more year. I can’t leave now, knowing that I didn’t stay true to my goals.”

The decisions by the two Tide defensive players came after inside linebacker Henry To’o To’o, who like both was a junior and eligible to enter the NFL Draft, decided to return for his senior season.

Two other juniors on Alabama’s defense, linebacker Christian Harris and safety Jordan Battle, have until Monday to decide whether to enter the draft.

Dale, who played high school football at Clay-Chalkville in metro Birmingham, will enter 2022 as one of Alabama’s most experienced players. He is a three-year starter along a defensive line that will lose Phidarian Mathis to the NFL Draft this offseason.

The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Dale finished this past season with 17 tackles, including 12 solos and two quarterback sacks. He had 22 tackles in 2020 and 17 in 2019.

Hellams, from Washington, D.C., became a starter late last season and continued in that role this season opposite Battle. The 6-foot-1, 208-pound Hellams earned 87 tackles this past season, including 54 solos, while also recording three interceptions and six pass break-ups. In 2020, he was in 62 tackles, 36 solos, and had three pass deflections but no interceptions.

Seniors entering NFL Draft: RB Brian Robinson (Senior Bowl/eligibility exhausted), DL Phidarian Mathis (Senior Bowl), OLB Christopher Allen, CB Josh Jobe, OL Chris Owens (eligibility exhausted)

Juniors entering NFL Draft: OT Evan Neal, WR Jameson Williams, WR Slade Bolden (redshirt junior)

Players not entering NFL Draft, returning in 2022: ILB Henry To’o To’o (junior), DL DJ Dale (junior), S DeMarcco Hellams (junior)

Scholarship players entering transfer portal: QB Paul Tyson, WR Javon Baker, TE Jahleel Billingsley, OL Tommy Brown, ILB Jaylen Moody, ILB Shane Lee, OLB Drew Sanders, OLB King Mwikuta (Arkansas State)

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