Monday, August 12, 2013

The Alabama Analysis: Yeldon leads stable of RBs

Since Nick Saban began his tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide running back unit has been more like a stable of horses bound for the Kentucky Derby.

Within two years, if not sooner, the “fresh face” in town becomes one of the most distinguished running backs in the nation. The notable list includes, Glen Coffee, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon, and if the trend continues…Derrick Henry.

Granted high school talent and “star ratings” aren’t enough to guarantee college success, but Nick Saban’s “potential driven” attitude, coupled with the fundamental teaching of running backs coach Burton Burns, allows the crop of rushers who land at the Capstone to become some of the best backs in the nation.
Prominent players

T.J. Yeldon
Kenyan Drake
Jalston Fowler
Dee Hart

Emerging talent

Derrick Henry
Tyren Jones
Alvin Kamara
Altee Tenpenny

When it comes to the 2013 crop of backs, T.J. Yeldon is the undeniable star. Not to say that someone like freshman Derrick Henry won’t shine like a diamond, but entering the season, Yeldon is the proven asset.

In regards to the aforementioned Henry, the highly touted prospect who set the national high school record for most rushing yards in a career, has a chance to “run wild” in a twosome featuring Yeldon.
As is commonplace with Nick Saban, Alabama loves the “package deal” at running back. Ingram/Richardson, Richardson/Lacy, and Lacy/Yeldon, proved to be three of the greatest running back duos in Crimson Tide history. Given the structure of the Alabama offense, Yeldon and a “player to be named later,” potentially Henry, could share the duties in 2013.

With his freshman year under his belt, expect Kenyan Drake to garner a healthy load of the carries in 2013. Working in spot duty in 2012, Drake showed moments of greatness with his balance and ability to read blocks along the offensive front.

2013 will also mark the return of Jalston Fowler. The “bull” of a back who missed essentially the entire 2012 campaign due to a knee injury, is back, better, and 20 pounds lighter. Fowler, who will likely split time between running back and h-back will be a major asset in not only the short yardage run game, but the passing game. Fowler is a great blocker, great runner, and he comes equipped with soft hands. While “Nudie” is not likely to steal the show like a Yeldon or perhaps Derrick Henry, the redshirt junior will likely have the most productive season of his career. Fowler is the true definition of a multi-tool player.

Battle tested Dee Hart, who has suffered two devastating knee injuries during his time at Alabama, is back once again to prove that he really is the five-star recruit that had so many schools drooling in 2011. While his place in the running back rotation is unclear, Hart still has the hunger to prove himself and beat the odds that have threatened his very playing career.
Along with the aforesaid Derrick Henry, Tyren Jones, Alvin Kamara, and Altee Tenpenny are the true freshmen of the 2013 class. With a nice mix of balance and burst, expect at least one of the latter three players to see a respectable amount of action this season. Building depth is the key, and elite young talent makes for a rather promising future.

Unit rating: 9/10

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