All of the focus in Tuscaloosa this year has been on the ongoing quarterback battle between senior Blake Sims and Florida State transfer Jacob Coker, but whoever wins that job will have a solid insurance policy to fall back on in the form of a deep, talented and versatile running back corps.
Junior T.J. Yeldon is fresh off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Sophomore Derrick Henry broke out in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma with 161 total yards and two touchdowns. And speedster Kenyan Drake, as Bleacher Report Alabama lead writer Marc Torrence notes, is a burner who can take it to the house from anywhere on the field.
Henry will be the leader of the pack.
Nothing against Yeldon or Drake, but Henry brings back power football—the same power football that Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy used to bring for the Crimson Tide as they closed the BCS era with three national titles in the last five seasons of existence. With Henry carrying the ball, the Alabama offense is more geared toward the power rushing attack rather than the zone-blocking schemes that it favors with Yeldon as the feature back.
Don't get me wrong—all of the running backs will be successful, and if there's any coach in America who knows how to combine thunder and lightning, it's new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. After all, he did that successfully at USC with Reggie Bush and LenDale White.
Henry will evolve into the 1A back in Tuscaloosa this year, with Yeldon and Drake each having solid seasons as well.