Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle expected out for season after injuring ankle on opening kickoff

Alabama wideout and return specialist Jaylen Waddle is expected to be out for the season after suffering what coach Nick Saban called a combination of a high-ankle sprain and a fracture during the opening kickoff of Saturday's 48-17 win over host Tennessee in Knoxville.

Saban said the injury is similar to the one former Alabama running back Kenyan Drake suffered in 2014, which caused him to miss most of that season.

"We're going to fly him back privately with the doctors and take him back to Birmingham and see what we have to do right away,'' Saban said of Waddle. "If that's the case, and we're pretty certain that it is, he would probably be out for the year.''

Waddle, an ESPN preseason All-America selection, was hurt when he took the opening kickoff out to the Alabama 15. He was tackled by Kenneth George Jr., and Waddle's right foot got caught between the grass and George's body. Waddle was helped off the field, putting no weight on his right foot before being carted to the locker room.

The junior from Houston opened this season with at least 120 yards receiving in each of the first four games and led Alabama with 557 yards on just 25 catches. Waddle was averaging 22.3 yards per catch and had four touchdowns.

He is No. 12 on Mel Kiper's Big Board of NFL draft prospects.

Waddle has been one of the nation's top punt returners the past two years and has seldom had the ball kicked his way this year. He had 733 yards on punt returns in his career, ranking sixth in Alabama history.

With Waddle sidelined, Alabama turned to Slade Bolden as the team's third receiver.

Bolden, who hadn't caught a pass this season, had receptions on each of Alabama's first two drives against Tennessee. He finished the game with six catches for 94 yards.

Alabama wide receiver John Metchie III said losing Waddle during the game was tough.

"I think we responded well on focusing on the most important thing, which is the next play at hand,'' Metchie said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.