The primary goal for every college football head coach during spring practice is to get through it relatively healthy.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban isn't getting his wish.
Linebacker Trey DePriest underwent surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his foot. Tuesday brought more bad news on the injury front.
Running back Derrick Henry, a 6'3", 238-pound running back from Yulee, Fla., will miss the remainder of spring practice after undergoing surgery to replace a broken fibula, according to a release from the university. He should be healthy by July and ready to go when the Crimson Tide opens fall camp.
"Derrick Henry suffered a fractured fibula in Saturday's scrimmage and had successful surgery this morning with Dr. Lyle Cain," Saban said. "With the support of our medical staff and the hard work and dedication Derrick has shown since he arrived, we are confident that he will make a full recovery for the start of camp this fall."
It's disappointing for Alabama fans, who were hoping to get a glimpse of the man who set a national high school record rushing for 12,212 yards at this Saturday's A-Day.
Henry enrolled at Alabama early and got a jump start on the battle to earn carries behind sophomore T.J. Yeldon and a stable of running backs that includes four players in the class of 2013 with four or more stars in the 247Sports.com composite index.
The injury won't prevent Henry from earning playing time this fall, and expect that playing time to be plentiful.
Alabama has a stable of running backs in 2013 that includes Henry, Yeldon, Kenyan Drake, Dee Hart, Altee Tenpenny, Alvin Kamara and Tyren Jones. A "rich man's problem," no doubt. But this season's rushing attack in Tuscaloosa will take on a different tone than the ones in year's past.
Because the running backs on campus this fall will be so versatile, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will have the luxury of taking a more situational approach to his running back corps based on down, distance and situation.
Henry was—and still will—play a big role in that approach.
His size alone makes him a tremendous weapon in goal-line and short-yardage situations, which is where his primary impact will be. But it isn't just that. Once he's established as a weapon in that role, Nussmeier can get creative with him in space.
Henry isn't just a lumbering big man. He has 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash according to 247Sports.com, and his highlight reel is littered with examples of how dangerous he can be in space.
Is he going to overtake Yeldon as the feature back? No. That won't be his role as a freshman.
He will be a battering ram as a situational running back and will take advantage of tired defenses late in games. In other words, the worst nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators—college football's "closer."
It's disappointing that Henry won't be out there for the Crimson Tide for A-Day because he was one of the primary storylines heading into the game. This spring's "T.J. Yeldon," so to speak.
But it won't prevent him from contributing as a true freshman this season. He will still see the field early and often as a true freshman.
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