Henry Ruggs III knows the incoming talent.
He’s part of Alabama’s seventh consecutive No. 1 recruiting class under Nick Saban.
Ruggs knows the talent returning.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Calvin Ridley, Da’Ron Payne, Bo Scarbrough, Jalen Hurts and Jonah Williams are back from a team that was a stop away from going 15-0 and winning back-to-back national championships.
Ruggs sees all that and is thinking one thing.
“Make an immediate impact,” Ruggs said. “I want to go in with the mindset that I want to be one of the impact players.”
The four-sport star out of Robert E. Lee will report Wednesday to Tuscaloosa with a very desirable skill set.
Rated a five-star recruit by 24/7 Sports, Ruggs has track speed (wonClass 7A 100-meter dash in 10.58 seconds), but on the football field, he’s electric, elusive and has that sudden burst to separate from defenders.
“We think that Henry Ruggs and Devonta Smith are both very explosive guys,” Saban said on National Signing Day. “We’ve had them in camp a couple of years. Very fast, very explosive.”
Saban could see Ruggs and Smith, an Amite, Louisiana, native, being utilized in the return and running game as well as at receiver. Ruggs did all those things and more for the Generals his senior year.
Scoring 20 times on 102 touches, Ruggs had 38 catches for 639 yards and nine touchdowns, ran the ball 36 times 446 yards and seven scores and returned seven kickoffs for 352 yards and a touchdown.
Ruggs also showed his return skills in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game in taking the opening kickoff 90 yards for a score.
“You don’t find those type of young men often,” Lee head coach Tyrone Rogers said. “You’re quickly able to identify great talent, despite the size. His explosiveness, the ability to change direction, great hands, great hand-eye coordination.”
The 6-foot, 175-pound talent even played quarterback last season.
Ruggs completed 11 of 23 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Alabama has Hurts and early enrollee Tua Tagovailoa to throw passes, but Ruggs can do everything else on offense if called upon.
“These explosive-type players are guys that we felt like we needed to add to this class,” Saban said.
Alabama lost two talented targets in receiver ArDarius Stewart and tight end O.J. Howard to the NFL. A first-round pick, Howard had 45 grabs for 595 yards and three touchdowns last season while Stewart, third-round selection, led the Tide in receiving yards (864) and touchdowns (8) on 54 catches.
The Tide returns Ridley, who led Alabama in receptions (72) last season and was second in receiving yards (769) and receiving touchdowns (7). Senior Robert Foster didn’t play much last season, but looked explosive in catching two passes for 115 yards and a touchdown in last month’s A-Day game.
Then there’s early enrollee Jerry Jeudy, who racked up 134 yards and two touchdowns on five receptions in the A-Day game. Ridley had four catches for 102 yards and a score.
So Alabama looks strong once again at receiver, but Ruggs wants to be a part of that — immediately.