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Alabama's success is directly tied to the success of the team's second-string running back. The No. 2 back must be able to fill in for the starter at a moment's notice with little to no change in the game plan. It must be a completely seamless transition.
Last year they didn't have one, as Eddie Lacy was injured much of the season. The team was fortunate enough to have Trent Richardson, one of the best running backs in NCAA history.
They were lucky, too, that Richardson stayed healthy after getting beat up after 30 carries a game multiple times last season.
Alabama needs that true second-string running back next year, but who will it be?
Jalston Fowler impressed on multiple occasions last year, but Nick Saban didn't allow him a single carry in both games against LSU. He's not fast, has zero lateral movement, and doesn't pass the line of scrimmage unless the hole is directly in front of him. He is a pure downhill runner.
Demetrius Hart has potential, but at 5'8" and 190 lbs. he wont be able to attack between the tackles in the SEC like he did in high school. His role will be more specialized unless he puts on 15 to 20 pounds (though that would diminish his vaunted speed).
Two other prime candidates include Blake Sims, who the coaching staff cannot seem to find a use for despite raving about his qualities, and T.J. Yeldon, who seems to have all the qualities of an every down back.
Yeldon is big, fast and elusive. Yeldon should be the Tide's No. 2 back, and he'll prove it this spring.