The Alabama Crimson Tide should should start feeling worried about 5-star running back Derrick Henry's recent visit to Tennessee—it apparently went pretty well.
If I were a 'Bama fan, I'd be concerned about the fact that Tennessee obviously caught Henry's attention, according to quotes via Ryan Callahan of 247Sports.com:
“I’ll go back home and talk to my coaches and my family and visit Alabama next week and, after that, make my decision,” Henry said.
“Alabama is still in the front, but Tennessee made me think this weekend. I’m going to sit down and talk to my coaches and my family, and then we’ll see.”
While it may seem outlandish that a top-notch football recruit would choose Tennessee over Alabama, there are a few factors that could play into his decision.
The biggest thing Alabama has going against them is their depth chart. Elite talent like Henry will want to see the field early, and with junior Eddie Lacy and freshman T.J. Yeldon in the Crimson Tide's backfield, the chances of Henry coming in and making an immediate impact from the running back position are incredibly slim.
Remember, Henry decommitted from Georgia earlier this summer, and even though he didn't list it as a reason, it's interesting to note the Bulldogs already have two stellar freshmen running the ball in Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley. Like Alabama, they seem to be set at the running back position for the time being.
Alabama never lacks playmakers, which has made them a football powerhouse for years. The same can't be said for Tennessee.
That could change if Henry commits, and according to quotes via Callahan's report, he seems to know that:
“I like everything (about them),” Henry said. “I mean, you see it — they’re a great team. There’s some tweaks with the running game and with the passing game, too, but I think, from here on out, Tennessee’s going to elevate to a good program again.”
The best part of the visit for Henry, he said, was “just seeing that I can be that playmaker they need to get to the next level, and I definitely feel like I can be that.”
This may end up sealing the deal for Tennessee.
So much of college football recruiting is about selling hope for the future. If you can convince a prospect he is the key to a brighter future, and he will be the reason for your program's success, there's a good chance you can reel him in.
While Tennessee is nowhere close to Alabama's level, the Volunteers are building a respectable program and Henry acknowledges that. His quotes also suggest he feels like he can be "the guy" to take them to the next level, and therein lies Tennessee's advantage.
Alabama can offer Henry many things, but they can't offer him the opportunity to be "the guy". He'd just be another great player on a list of many great Alabama players.
He may win, but he wouldn't have the chance to turn a program around and leave the kind of legacy he could if he were to play football at Tennessee.
The Volunteers are selling him the opportunity to win, and to be the catalyst of a program.
Alabama doesn't need a catalyst, which could end up being their downfall in regards to Henry's recruitment.
Tennessee has made an impact on Henry, and they are offering him the chance to be an integral part of their rebuilding process. Alabama would make him just another piece of a winning puzzle.
'Bama still has the lead for Henry, but don't count out Tennessee, especially after this visit.