2013 Alabama Crimson Tide: The Running Backs
1) T. J. Yeldon: The No. 1 option at running back is returning sophomore T. J. Yeldon. He was the 2nd ranked running back in the 2012 class, flipping to Alabama late in the recruiting period after committing to Auburn.
In his true freshman year backing up NFL-bound starter Eddie Lacy, T. J. set the Alabama freshman rushing record with 1,108 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and scoring 12 touchdowns.
At 6’2” tall and weighing in at 220 pounds, Yeldon is a big, strong back with quick feet and fluid moves.
He is also deceptively fast with 4.4-second speed in the 40 yard dash. His goal? “I want to be the best running back to ever come through here.”
You go, T. J.
2) Jalston Fowler: A load at 6’1”, 250 pounds, Jalston will be in the backfield very often for the Crimson Tide as a blocking back for the more nimble backs.
But he can carry the ball with equal aplomb. Prior to his knee injury last year, Fowler was averaging 7.7 yards a carry! He has good receiving skills as well and will be seen lined up in the “H” back or tight end position.
His excellent vision allows him to find his lanes and slip tackles like a much lighter back. But make no mistake, the “Nudie Bus” would just as soon run over you as around you.
3) Kenyan Drake: Rated as high as the 4th best running back in the country, Kenyan will battle the talented true freshmen for second option behind Yeldon. Drake averaged 6.7 yards per carry as true freshman last year, mostly in mop-up duty.
However, the former Georgia 5A 100 meter champion, showed his speed many times turning the corners and even leaving smaller cornerbacks in his wake. Currently, a bit in the dog house for fumbling in scrimmage, Kenyan will need to impress coach Saban because looming behind him are…
4) Derrick Henry: Considered by many as the top athlete in last year’s class, Henry is 6’3” tall and weighs 238 pounds. That makes him bigger than many linebackers that will meet him at the line of scrimmage. Combine that size with 4.5 seconds in 40 yards speed and you get an idea of why Derrick broke the all-time high school rushing record (with 12,124 yards) that has stood for 51 years!
He also holds the Florida high school single-game rushing record at 510 yards. That’s right 510 yards! His senior season alone, Henry ran for 4,261 yards, averaging 327.8 yards per game and 9.2 yards per carry. Some people say he is too big to be a running back. That reminds me of the story about how an Alabama assistant coach told Bo Jackson he couldn’t start as a freshman.
5) Altee Tenpenny: A big back (6’,0", 203 pounds) with good speed (4.42), Tenpenny was rated the No. 1 player in the state of Arkansas. Altee has impressed coaches with his toughness and work ethic. Although he committed early to Alabama, many thought new Arkansas coach, Bret Bielema, would be able to keep him home. Too good a weapon to stay on the bench, look for Altee to work his way into the rotation as early as this year.
6) Tyren Jones: With pro-typical size at 5’9’’ and 215 pounds, Jones was rated the 5th best running back in the nation last year. In the two years he played in high school, Tyren had over 4,000 yards and 50 touchdowns. More quick than fast, he can make the first guy miss or is strong enough to run over you. With Tenpenny, Henry and Kamara, one of the “Fab Four” in the 2013 recruiting class.
7) Alvin Kamara: Like Jones, Kamara is a Georgia native. And like Jones, Alvin is exciting to watch. Rated the No. 1 all-purpose back, he has great hands and is a powerful runner. While not as big as some Alabama backs, at 5’9” and 200 pounds, he is big enough to be an every-down back (although Alabama doesn’t play an every-down back) and runs well inside the tackles. Could be that surprise playmaker in the “H” back position.
8) Dee Hart: A gifted athlete and electrifying runner, Hart was considered one of the nation's best all-purpose backs out of Florida. Voted the U.S. Army National Player of the Year, Dee is one of those ultra-quick backs and electrifying play makers. Dee is coming off back to back knee injuries, but Saban says there is not a tougher pound for pound player on the team. Don’t be surprised to see Mr. Hart used in special situations this year.