TUSCALOOSA, Ala., — At 6-foot-5, being open on the field is somewhat of a relative term. Usually, Alabama receiver Cam Sims just tells quarterback Jalen Hurts to throw the ball up and he’ll go get it.
“Yeah, I’ve been telling quarterbacks that since I was little,” Sims said with a smile.
According to Sims, his request is typically met by an “alright” from Hurts. After all, the senior receiver is pretty good about backing up his word on the field when he gets an opportunity. The only problem for Sims is those opportunities have been few and far between during his college career.
Coming to Alabama as a four-star recruit out of Monroe, La., Sims was projected as a candidate to break into the Crimson Tide’s rotation during his sophomore year in 2015. However, he suffered two torn ligaments in his left knee as well as a fractured tibia that spring, limiting his chance to climb the depth chart. Despite returning in time for the start of the 2015 season, he recorded only six catches for 46 yards.
During his junior year last season, Sims started in three games, tallying 14 receptions for 152 yards. Ironically, his first career start came against Kent State as the result of an injury to starter ArDarius Stewart, who sprained his knee against Ole Miss the game before. Sims capitalized on the opportunity, reeling in four catches for a career-high 54 yards against the Golden Flashes. He also played a big role in Alabama’s 615-yard performance against Mississippi, catching three passes for 45 yards against the Bulldogs.
Despite the bursts of production, Sims found himself behind Stewart, Calvin Ridley and Gehrig Dieter for most of the season. Now, with Stewart and Dieter gone, the senior might finally get the opportunity he’s been patiently waiting for.
Right now, that chance has been at slot receiver as Sims has led the inside receivers while Ridley and Robert Foster appear to be Alabama’s starters on the outside. Typically, the slot role is given to a smaller receiver in order to take advantage of quick cuts inside.
However, stacking up a receiver of Sims’ height across the middle can be just as dangerous.
“As a defensive back, I mean that’s a mismatch problem,” Alabama cornerback Anthony Averett said. “He has good height, good size, you can throw a jump ball. It’s a good mismatch.”
Sims says he doesn’t care where coaches put him on the field as long as he has the opportunity to make plays. As far the difference between playing inside or outside, the senior is focused more on the final outcome than where he starts on any given play.
“I see touchdowns,” Sims said. “I don’t see nothing else.”
Of course, pass catching is only part of his game. If Sims does earn the slot receiver role, he will fill in for Dieter, who was one of the Tide’s best blocking receivers last season.
In recent years, Alabama receivers have taken the nickname of assassins to emphasize their physical play. Sims says the unit has no plans of giving up that mentality this season, stating blocking will still be a big part of the receivers’ identity on the field.
“It’s big because the running backs do their part to block for the quarterback so the quarterback can throw the ball,” Sims said. “When they break free, we got to make sure we do our job so they can score.”
Sims knows that as a senior, it will be his job to carry on that unselfish mentality to some of the younger players on the team. So far, he seems to be stepping into that veteran role just fine.
Following the Tide’s first scrimmage of spring camp, he had a little fun with sophomore cornerback Trevon Diggs, posting a photo himself appearing to make a one-handed catch over the defender. Sims later admitted he didn’t come down with the ball, giving his teammate credit for the defensive stop.
While it’s all laughs now, don’t expect the senior to miss many of those opportunities this season. He’s on a mission to make a difference anywhere he can. Just throw him the ball, and he’ll do the rest.