Daily Bama Blog correspondent Brett Hudson, like he did for the BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame, will count you down to the beginning of spring practice with another series. Each day, Brett will break down a different position group going into spring practice until the beginning of practice on March 16. Here is the schedule.
T.J. Yeldon’s game-winning touchdown in Death Valley cemented him in Alabama football history. His play for the entire 2012 season did the same thing for his starting job in 2013. (AP photo)
Today: Quarterbacks (click here to read it)
Tomorrow: Running backs
Saturday: Wide receivers
Sunday: Tight ends/H-Backs
Monday: Offensive Line
Tuesday: Defensive Line
Wednesday: Linebackers/Pro Day
March 14: Cornerbacks
March 15: Safeties
March 16: Opening day of spring practice
Another year, another starting running back leaving early for the NFL Draft. As has been the case for the last two years, the Crimson Tide has a stable of bodies able to replace the lost back.
Following in the wakes of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy left his last season of eligibility behind to move on to the NFL and, just like Ingram and Richardson, will leave his spot to a group of breakout young backs.
As was the case with yesterday’s quarterback preview, there was one name that is seemingly set-in-stone for having a large role in the rotation: T.J. Yeldon.
Yeldon (freshman year highlights), a 1,131-yard rusher with 12 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2012, is the far-and-away shoe-in candidate for the No. 1 spot as a running back, or at least the 1A that Lacy was last year.
Again, like the quarterbacks, the biggest question is the No. 2, or for running backs, 1B spot.
The leading candidate judging from the 2012 season is Kenyan Drake (freshman year highlights), another true freshman on last year’s team that filled in during blowouts and gained valuable experience from it, carrying the ball 42 times for 285 yards and five touchdowns despite being suspended for the Western Carolina game.
However, Alabama has two players coming back from season-ending knee injuries: Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart. Hart will be coming back from a torn ACL for the second time in his short career at the Capstone, while Fowler was seeing time as a fullback and occassional ball carrier early in the season before his injury.
The addition of three more freshmen, only one in for spring training, makes the Alabama backfield a crowded bunch. Early enrollee Derrick Henry (high school highlights) has been the fan favortie, accruing numerous records and national player of the year awards in high school before coming to Alabama. Altee Tenpenny (high school highlights), one of the best prospects out of Arkansas, will be joined by Tyren Jones (high school highlights) and Alvin Kamara (high school highlights) as freshmen running backs from Georgia entering the program in the fall.
Breakdown: Five players (eight in the fall) vying for two and a half spots (1A, 1B, mop-up time). One senior (Fowler), one redshirt sophomore (Hart), two sophomores (Yeldon, Drake), four true freshmen (Henry in the spring; Jones, Tenpenny and Kamara in the fall).
Prediction: The battle for the 1B spot will fall to one of the following: Drake, Fowler, Hart. The losers of that battle will join Henry to battle it our for the mop-up position. The rest, most likely the true freshmen that did not enroll early, are likely due for a redshirt season.
As is the case with the quarterback position, Alabama could see a player, or possibly two, transfer away from the Tide for playing time in the next year or two.