Friday, August 15, 2014

Alabama Analysis: Henry and Yeldon lead dynamic RB unit

Since Nick Saban began his tenure at the University of 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 collegiate 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

Kenyan Drake
Jalston Fowler (Fullback)
Derrick Henry
T.J. Yeldon

Emerging talent

Tyren Jones
Corey McCarron (Fullback)
Altee Tenpenny

Departures from 2013

Dee Hart (Transferred)
Alvin Kamara (Transferred)

When it comes to the 2014 stable, Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon are the undeniable stars. Not to say that someone with the skill set of Kenyan Drake, for example, won't shine like a diamond when called upon, but entering the season, Henry and Yeldon are the two players who will likely garner the highest amount of attention.

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, Henry and Yeldon, will likely form the dynamic twosome in 2014.

With his sophomore year under his belt, expect the aforementioned Kenyan Drake to garner a healthy load of the carries this season. Working in spot duty in 2012, and as Yeldon's primary backup in 2013, Drake has shown moments of greatness with his balance and ability to read blocks along the offensive front.

2014 will mark the final season for Jalston Fowler. The "bull" of a back who missed essentially the entire 2012 campaign due to a knee injury, was moved to H-back in 2013 and will likely play fullback this fall. Known as a great blocker, Fowler also comes equipped with soft hands for his size, which makes him a great mid-range receiver out of the backfield. While Fowler is not likely to steal the show like Henry or Yeldon, the redshirt senior will be a vital tool for the Crimson Tide offense this season.

In respect to the remainder of the running back unit, sophomore Altee Tenpenny, redshirt freshman Tyren Jones, could each receive respectable playing time in 2014. Five-star signee Bo Scarbrough would have likely been a contributor this season, at least in some small measure, but the highly touted running back failed to qualify academically. Nick Saban has expressed his hope to have Scarbrough on campus by early 2015.

Unit rating: 9.5/10

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