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Alabama Running Back Battle Highlights Spring Practice

Kenyan Drake
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

There are a lot of question marks regarding who will be replacing Alabama’s key losses at key positions, but one of the most interesting position battles may come from a position that has everyone returning. Let’s face it: Nick Saban has some ridiculously talented running backs. He usually makes a push to recruit at least one running back every season, but with what he has on the depth chart this coming season, an overabundance of talent could have been a bad thing.

When talking Alabama running backs, it’s hard to find where to start, so we’ll approach it alphabetically by last name. Kenyan Drake is the play-maker of the group. He possesses speed, agility, explosiveness, and crazy athleticism, not to mention he’s a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. The only knock on Drake is that he’s prone to cough up the football, which doesn’t exactly make Saban the happiest of campers. If he’s able to secure the ball better than he has, there’s a chance that we could be talking about a potential Heisman candidate.

Jalston Fowler by no means has the sexiest game out of the bunch, but he’s the type of back who doesn’t worry about breaking ankles; he’s more of the “I’m just going to run you over, try and stop me” type of player. He’ll be a serviceable back in Saban/Kiffin’s system, but how many times have we seen the play-action dump off pass to the fullback on the goal line since Saban has been here? “Nudie” has definitely made that his trademark, along with his unique nickname.

No reasonable Alabama fan wants to remember the Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma, but if there is one thing positive to be taken away from it, it’s this: Derrick Henry is a man among boys. The freshman (now sophomore) running back seemingly made the Sooner defense look like a group of middle schoolers who have never put on football pads in their lives. Once he learns the entire playbook and gets the pass blocking schemes down pat, even I’m slightly scared to see how good he can really be.

Tyren Jones was one of the top running backs coming out of high school in 2013, and he redshirted last season. If he can change his potential into talent and production, Jones will undoubtedly be a starting running back for the University of Alabama. It may not happen this year, but he will be a starter at some point in his career.

The only true freshman that may see playing time in the Alabama backfield is Bo Scarbrough, the 5-star athlete from right here in Tuscaloosa. Bo was nothing short of impressive during his high school seasons, and seemed to thrive on the competition during the nationally televised high school all-star games, such as the Under Armour All-America Game. His versatility may land him in more of a slot receiver role than in the backfield, but Lane Kiffin is bound to line him up wherever the Tide can use him at their advantage.

Altee Tenpenny, although extremely talented, may not see the field much unless he’s able to completely separate himself from the rest of the pack in terms of production during the spring. Tenpenny is a great athlete with good speed, quickness, and sure hands, but that’s how every back is on this team. The sophomore out of North Little Rock, Arkansas was one of the top running backs in the 2013 recruiting class, and he hopes to get a lot more playing time this year.

Rounding out the list of Tide running backs is none other than T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon is a stud at 6’2″ 218 lb., making him an absolute load to try and bring down. And let’s not forget Kiffin’s history with producing numbers at the running back position. However, many people criticized him last season for not being as explosive as he was his freshman year. This could have been caused by numerous things, but one of the biggest contributing factors may have been the overhaul of the offensive line last year. Fortunately for Yeldon, most of the O-line is back this year, and barring anymore untimely fumbles, I think we could be watching him on television in New York City the Saturday night after all the conference championships.

As you can see from this list, there are plenty of talented backs on Alabama’s roster, but it now becomes a question of who wants to take the starting role.

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