Alabama Football: What 5-Star RB Derrick Henry's Commitment Would Mean for Tide

Jimmy McMurreyAnalyst IIJuly 5, 2012


The latest recruit who seems sold on the Tide is 5-star running back Derrick Henry out of Yulee, Fla. A verbal commitment from a 5-star prospect is always good news, but sometimes it comes with an asterisk.

After his visit to Tuscaloosa, Henry made it clear (via that Alabama is leading the race for his services as a running back. rates Henry as a 5-star running back, and for good reason. 

He is a massive back at 6'3" and 241 pounds. He immediately made me think of former Wisconsin running back John Clay, but it is an unfair comparison. 

Henry is not only bigger than the 6'1", 230-pound Clay (who ran a 4.77 40-yard dash at the NFL combine) but he's quicker as well. Emphasis on quicker. 

According to Scout and Rivals, he runs a 4.58 40-yard dash. That may seem sluggish for a running back, but for a guy his size it is a great time and it will only improve after he enters college. It's also only a tad slower than Alabama's lone Heisman winner, Mark Ingram. 

Henry's high school resume is about as impressive as it gets.

Between 2009 and 2011 he rushed for over 7,800 yards and scored a whopping 99 touchdowns. His production was split almost perfectly, even for three seasons, and he still has one more year to tear things up.

With his size, Henry looks like the type of player that could play multiple positions. That may be true, but he is a pure running back and, if he plays for 'Bama, that is exactly where he will play. He won't be switching to linebacker or tight end/H-back. 

What would it mean for the Tide if he ends up playing at the Capstone?

For starters, he's a lot like current Tide running back Jalston Fowler, but better—a lot better.

He is bigger, faster, stronger and has much better footwork than Fowler. 

Fowler came to Alabama as a true fullback—a position the Tide doesn't use—who ended up toting the rock. Henry is a true running back, albeit an over-sized one.

Henry would immediately provide the Tide with a legitimate option for short-yardage situations from day one. 

With his size and speed you won't see him busting out many runs for 20-plus yards, but he could bulldoze his way past the line of scrimmage for a solid five or more yards on most plays. 

He can get the first downs and keep the chains moving. 

Henry could also pose an incredible threat in the red zone, something the Tide could always use more help with. 

Stopping a player with Henry's size when a touchdown is inches away would be a monumental task for any SEC defense. 

Now, onto the "asterisk."

Alabama already has verbal commitments from two great 4-star running backs. 

Altee Tenpenny (5'11", 200 lbs) is a true every-down back. He has a great combination of size and speed. 

Tyren Jones (5'8", 185 lbs) is a change of pace/specialty running back built just like current Tide back Dee Hart. With or without Henry's commitment, these two will likely find themselves struggling to get significant playing time. 

If Henry commits to the Tide, it's not just a chance that at least one of these two backs will be chased off—it's a certainty. 

They could certainly rescind their verbal commitments, and there is also a chance that Nick Saban may flat out tell them he doesn't need them anymore.

Some would consider that to be unscrupulous, but it's just part of the business. Nothing is official until February. Both the school and the recruit can change their minds.

Whatever may come with Henry's commitment, it is certain that the good will outweigh the bad. 

Henry is a special, special talent. I really do mean special, because he is one of strangest built—in a good way—running backs in recent memory.

He may not be a future Heisman contender, but his ridiculous size and strength mixed with good speed and agility would make him a potent role player at Alabama.