Alabama running backs in the last half-decade include: a Heisman Trophy winner; a Heisman finalist, a breakout NFL star; a multifaceted playmaker; and a physical outlier with defensive end size and slot-back speed.
The only program that can match the ongoing stretch of studly Alabama running backs is Wisconsin, which I can only assume teams with the university’s biology department to generate Ron Dayne clones.
I’m not here in the wake of Tyren Jones’ dismissal for marijuana use that the Crimson Tide suddenly have a running back problem. Alabama returns Derrick Henry — presumably on lone from Prof. Xavier’s Academy — to continue putting SEC defenders on the wrong end of highlight reels for one more season. Even with offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin’s renowned allergy to trusting the run game, Henry is a surefire Heisman candidate in 2015, much the same way Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson were before him.
Nevertheless, I found this tweet interesting:
Of four blue chip RBs signed by Alabama in 2013, only Derrick Henry is still on the roster.
— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) March 31, 2015
Jones’ dismissal made him the third of three Alabama running backs signed in just one class to leave the program. Alvin Kamara is at Tennessee, where he’ll team with Jalen Hurd to give the Vols a monster backfield. Altee Tenpenny is unsigned after declaring his intent to transfer in January.
Add that trio to Dee Hart, who struggled to find the field at Alabama but was a breakout star in one season at Colorado State. Hart rejoined former Tide offensive Jim McElwain in Fort Collins to rush for 1,275 yards and 16 touchdowns in the Rams’ surprising, 10-win campaign.
Hart’s success and the high expectations for Kamara at Tennessee are more evidence of what we already know: Nick Saban recruits running backs better than anyone not named Bret Bielema.
Further evidence: despite the exodus of Alabama running backs out of the program in recent years, the Tide has the promising Kenyan Drake, who returns from a season-ending injury. And behind them?
Six-foot-2, 235-pound Bo Scarborough and 6-foot-1, 211-pound DeSherrius Flowers.
Alert the University of Wisconsin and Bielema out at Arkansas, someone in Tuscaloosa got his hands on the Ron Dayne machine.