Derrick Henry Flashes Heisman Potential in Thrilling Sugar Bowl

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2014

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02:  Derrick Henry #27 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates a touchdown against the Oklahoma Sooners during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 2, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Sugar Bowl was certainly not Alabama's finest hour, but it was in the young college career of freshman running back Derrick Henry. 

The Crimson Tide and Oklahoma Sooners played a fast-paced and high-scoring Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma led for most of the game, but Alabama battled and had the ball with a minute to go and a chance to get a tying touchdown.

After Cyrus Kouandjio was beaten off the edge for a strip-sack by Eric Striker to seal the game for Oklahoma, and a terrible bowl showing by Kouandjio, the Crimson Tide limped out of this season with a humbling 45-31 defeat. 

It is not all doom and gloom coming out of this game for Nick Saban and his team. Henry's phenomenal showing should have all Crimson Tide fans excited for next year.

The freshman carried the ball just eight times, but he gained 100 yards and a touchdown on those carries.

He also added a catch that he took 61 yards to the house. 

This comes after a season where he gained just 282 yards on 28 carries. 

After watching the Sugar Bowl, I have to wonder why Saban didn't find a way to get this talented freshman more touches. I doubt his lack of touches will be a concern next year.

Henry has all the tools to be a star. He has freakish speed for his size, and he has ample size:

He looked like a man among boys in the Sugar Bowl as he blew through arm tackles and ran past would-be tacklers. He runs more straight up than you'd like to see, but he is all knees and elbows with a viscous running style. 

The way he attacks his runs actually conjures up visions of the great Adrian Peterson, who happened to be standing on the Oklahoma sideline for this game. 

His showing was certainly enough to get sports personality Jim Rome gushing: 

With this performance in a BCS bowl game, Henry put himself on the minds of college football fans for next season, and this is going to lead to Heisman hype. 

Alabama perennially has a good offensive line and strong running game. Henry is in the perfect spot to excel, and he has all the tools to do just that.