As Alabama took to the field to open its fall practice this weekend, one key player that was missing from the field was tight end Jahleel Bilingsley. He didn’t make significant contributions to the offense as a freshman in 2019 but saw his stock rise in 2020 as he recorded 18 catches for 287 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the College Football Playoff National Championship against Ohio State, he totaled 2 catches for 27 yards.

During his first preseason press conference of the year, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban revealed that the absence of Billingsley was not due to an injury. While failing to specifically address details, Saban made clear the expectations he had for the junior this season.

“I think (his growth) has a lot to do with his level of commitment that I talked about before, in terms of doing the right things, developing as a player,” Saban said. “He does have a lot of ability. He can be a positive contributor on the team. But he’s also got to buy into the principles and values of the team and be a good teammate. Do the things that everyone else in the organization does so that he has the respect of his teammates. We’re certainly trying to help him do that and hopefully, he’ll be back out there with us in a few days. We’ll see how that all develops.”

The Crimson Tide open their season in Atlanta on Sept. 4 against Miami.