Although the 45-31 loss to Oklahoma in the BCS Sugar Bowl is going to replay in the heads of Alabama fans all offseason, the future at the running back position is looking brighter than the morning sun.
Derrick Henry saved the last game of the season for his best performance, giving the Crimson Tide something to drool over for the next seven months.
Needless to say, Henry, who stepped on campus last year as one of the top recruits of the 2013 class, had high expectations this season. It's what happens when you finish high school with more rushing yards than any other player in the history of the game.
However, his 28 carries for 282 yards and two touchdowns weren't what Alabama fans expected. He was banged up in a few games and often overshadowed by the consistent production of the flashier T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake. This will no longer be the case heading into next season. The monster has awoken.
Henry, who entered the game with five or more carries in only three games, finished the Sugar Bowl with eight touches for 100 yards and one touchdown. In just one game, he proved that he was well worth the hype heading into the season, and he now gives the Alabama coaching staff something to think about. Sorry Yeldon, but Henry has to be the new starting running back.
Derrick Henry reminds me of Maurice Clarett at Ohio State.— Dan Kadar (@MockingTheDraft) January 3, 2014
At 6'3", 238 pounds, Henry is bigger than Eddie Lacy and Trent Richardson ever were. He's just as powerful as either one was during their collegiate days, and surprisingly, he has the breakaway speed to match.
This unique, elite skill set makes him a nightmare for defenders. How do you tackle someone this big? How do you keep him from bouncing to the outside and breaking off the big run? In other words, how do you defend the unknown?
I may be getting a little too excited, but Henry might as well be considered the modern-day Bo Jackson. This complete package hasn't quite been seen before. A running back this massive, fast, athletic and explosive puts him a class of his own. There's nothing he can't do. Literally nothing.
Derrick Henry is a star in the making at RB, but could also start in the SEC at LB.— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) January 3, 2014
Alabama can also be known as Running Back University.
Before Richardson and Lacy made their mark at the next level, guys such as Shaun Alexander, Le'Ron McClain and Tony Nathan paved the way. Yes, it's going to take more than one game before Henry fills those shoes. But let it be known that this performance was no fluke. Henry is the real deal, and it wouldn't be surprising if he takes on the lead role next season.
Since Alabama fans will never forget this game, they might as well also take in the performance from the freshman running back. It's the start of something extremely special.