The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Mercer Bears 48-14 in the 2021 season opener in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. The Crimson Tide started slow offensively but then turned in a five touchdown effort backed by strong special teams and defense into a blowout win.

The Alabama coaching staff named six players as "Player of the Week" for their efforts against the Bears. The six stood out above the rest and were pivotal pieces to the Crimson Tide victory. Freshman JoJo Earle and Evan Neal earned Player of the Week on offense, Christian Harris, Kool-Aid McKinstry, and Drew Sanders earned Player of the Week on defense and Jase McClellan was the lone special teams Player of the Week.

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Freshman wide receiver JoJo Earle led all receivers with seven receptions and 85 yards against the Mercer Bears. He was instrumental in keeping the offense on the field as he converted three first downs while averaging 12.1 yards per catch. Earle also played some special teams as he returned three punts for 45 yards.

Junior left tackle Evan Neal was the highest graded offensive lineman against the Bears grading perfect on all assignments and totaling four knockdown blocks.  Neal didn't give up a sack or pressure while the Bama offense tallied 424 yards on the afternoon.

Junior linebacker Christian Harris tallied a team-high eight tackles with one for a loss, his for solo stops paced the Tide on the day. Freshman cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry made his first career start and tallied six tackles and intercepted his first pass for the Tide. Sophomore outside linebacker Drew Sanders also made his first start and broke up two passes and made two tackles.

Sophomore running back Jase McClellan was the only player named Player of the Week for special teams after he returned a blocked punt 33 yards for a touchdown. McClellan was also in on two coverage tackles, one on punt team and one on kick team. McClellan was also efficient and effective offensively scoring a rushing and receiving touchdown.

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