Jerry Jeudy went all the way to Tuscaloosa to end up in his backyard helping his exceptional quarterback set a record bettering every player in Alabama football dating to 1892.
Now that’s “Buck Pride,’’ as the students at Jeudy’s former Deerfield Beach High School would say, while no doubt flashing the hand signal for antlers.
On second down from the Alabama 45-yard line in the opening quarter against Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff Semifinal, Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa lofted a 40-yard pass to the speedy Jeudy. The sophomore All-American sprinted down the left sideline, grabbed the ball in stride and lunged forward for another five or so yards to the Oklahoma 15.
That perfect combination of Heisman Trophy runner-up Tagovailoa to Biletnikoff Award winner Jeudy put Tagovailoa at No. 1 all-time for Alabama’s single-season passing yardage with 3,501 — surpassing Blake Sim’s former record of 3,487 yards, set in 2014.
Alabama’s touchdown at Hard Rock Stadium three plays later gave the Crimson Tide a 21-0 lead at 2:35 of the first quarter, which also set the Orange Bowl scoring record for a quarter.
By game’s end and a 45-34 Alabama victory, Jeudy had 4 catches for 73 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown that sealed the victory with 6:08 remaining.
“It was good just going out there and making plays to help my team win,’’ Jeudy said of the 40-yard catch that gave his QB the Alabama record. “Tua put the ball in the right place for me to make a play.”
Jeudy’s outstanding performance did not include his third-quarter, acrobatic 30-yard catch called back because he stepped out of bounds.
Jeudy, second in single-season receiving for Alabama with 1,176 yards and second in single-season touchdowns with 13, was one of three star players from South Florida on the field Saturday. The other locals: Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown, 5-10, 168-pound junior out of Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna; and 6-2, 202-pound Alabama freshman cornerback Patrick Surtain II out of Plantation American Heritage.
All-American Brown was held without a catch. Surtain had three tackles.
Jeudy is a 6-1, 192-pounder who as the nation’s top wide receiver was a consensus first-team All-American by Walter Camp, the AP, the Sporting News, American Football Coaches Association and Sports Illustrated. He caught 76 passes for 1,054 yards and 15 touchdowns as a five-star high school senior in 2016, playing for head coach Jevon Glenn at Deerfield Beach High.
“It’s a great feeling coming down here playing in front of my family and friends,’’ said Jeudy. “Especially, now that we got a W, it’s a wonderful feeling. I had to get a lot of tickets from my teammates.’’
In 2016 during Deerfield Beach’s playoff run, his coach called Jeudy a “once-in-a-lifetime talent.’’
“In my mind, he’s the player of the year in South Florida,” Glenn said.