TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — There’s always two ways at looking at something when it comes to roster depth as a position heading into spring practices.
On one hand, lack of numbers isn’t desirable for the obvious reasons, coaches want sufficient depth across the board year-round.
Meanwhile, a situation like Alabama will have at running back when spring workouts begin next month isn’t all bad because it means extra reps. The Crimson Tide will have just three scholarship players — Najee Harris, Brian Robinson Jr. and Jerome Ford —who can all gain from the extra workload.
Besides, if you’re going to be short-handed it’s the best time for it to happen.
Although Alabama lost three running backs from the 2018 roster, with Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs poised to be high draft picks and Ronnie Clark’s eligibility having expired, the Crimson Tide landed two top prospects in the signing Class of 2019.
Neither is on campus yet, so the veteran three will get a head start with new assistant coach Charles Huff. However, the newcomers will have to quickly assimilate themselves as it’s the position where players get the most banged up.
Najee Harris: The former 5-star prospect finished second in team rushing with 783 yards, and led the Crimson Tide in yards per carry at 6.7. He did so while getting the third most carries with 117. He’ll be the guy out of the backfield and could be poised for a huge season.
Brian Robinson Jr: He’ll be in the mix more, but the question is how much? He went from 24 carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman to 63 attempts for 272 yards and two touchdowns last season. That Robinson was one of the deep men on kickoff returns (five for 84 yards) shows how much the coaches trust him, which is a big part of getting on the field more.
Jerome Ford: Through no fault of his own, Ford was sort of the forgotten man with fans last season because he wasn’t one of the primary ball carriers. He had seven carries for 37 yards in four games as a true freshman. He’ll be more in the mix this season, but there’s steep competition.
Trey Sanders: The 5-star prospect turned heads when he said: "As a freshman at Alabama, I do plan on winning the Heisman. If I come short, I will be a finalist.” Granted, you want players who believe in themselves, but it’s going to be a while before he does any interviews at Alabama. He was rated the nation’s top-rated running back prospect by Rivals, 247Sports and on the 247Composite, but it’s what he does when not carrying the ball that will largely determine how much playing time he gets.
Kellen Robinson: Considered one of the top running backs from the Washington D.C. area, the 4-star prospect showed patience in recruiting despite making his commitment last June. Like Sanders, he’ll have a small window to show coaches that he can contribute immediately, but both could have roles this season.
This is the second story in a series on BamaCentral