WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Alabama will have the nation's most outstanding player take the field Monday night in the College Football Playoff National Championship. But the attention may be on who lines up on the other end of the line from him.
Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who hasn't played since Oct. 24, could make his return when top-ranked Alabama faces No. 3 Ohio State at Hard Rock Stadium.
Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian confirmed Wednesday that Waddle is once again practicing with the team after suffering what was believed to have been a season-ending ankle injury in a win against Tennessee.
"He was back out at practice yesterday," Sarkisian told reporters. "We'll see where it goes from here."
Waddle was a preseason All-Southeastern Conference selection entering the season and named the SEC freshman of the year in 2017. He had 25 receptions for 557 yards and four touchdowns when he went down in the fifth game of the season.
The Crimson Tide didn't miss a beat in the passing game, though, thanks to the play of Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and quarterback Mac Jones, who finished third in Heisman voting.
Smith, who has tallied 105 catches for 1,641 yards and 20 scores, was optimistic about his teammate's recovery.
"I think he's getting back into it," Smith said. "Of course, he's going to take some time just for him to get back comfortable with everything, but he looks good to me."
However, Smith was noncommittal when asked if he thought Waddle would play Monday.
"No comment," he answered.
Jones didn't provide any more clarity when asked about Waddle's availability.
"Yeah, he actually looked really good, but I don't know if I can answer that question properly because you've got to ask coach (Nick) Saban and the training staff," he said.
Suffice to say, though, Jones would certainly be in favor of having another target to throw to against the Buckeyes.
"But he's worked really hard in his rehab, and we'll see what happens," Jones said.