Alabama Football's Next Great Running Back? Meet Justin Taylor

Larry BurtonSenior Writer IFebruary 22, 2011

Justin Taylor is a bruising running back who fits Alabama's running style
Justin Taylor is a bruising running back who fits Alabama's running style

Glen Coffee, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and now Demetrius Hart, who just signed earlier this month —a lineage of great running backs? Well, Lacy and Hart still have a lot to prove, but seem to be cut from the right mold.

Now, the question of who would be the next running back sensation to come and put on a Crimson jersey has been asked.

That question was answered on the 21st when Atlanta, Georgia's Justin Taylor, from Booker T. Washington High School, pulled the trigger the moment he was offered to be the next big running back who will be part of yet another stellar class, the class of 2012.

Though he is still a youngster, at almost 5'11'' and 214 pounds he simply runs through arm tackles and punishes tacklers with a hard running style and, unlike some athletes who seem to want to prolong the choice for their 15 minutes of fame, Taylor committed just seconds after the offer by Nick Saban.

“At the beginning of my ninth-grade season I would always watch Alabama,” Taylor told “I used to think that could be my No. 1 school, and it’s been my No. 1 school. When I heard they were interested in me that was an advantage for them. When I got the offer I committed.”

Now it won't matter if Alabama doesn't land the so called other "big fish" in the 2012 running back recruiting pool, Barry Sanders Jr. In Taylor, Alabama has landed the kind of running back that fits the Saban offense to a T: a stocky, muscular running back that can either take it between the tackles or go all the way with speed.

"I started really watching Alabama and college football in the ninth grade," Taylor said to ESPN's Jamie Newberg. "I have liked them ever since. I love their offense and how they run the ball. I think I really fit their style well."

And the coaching staff, as well as the fans, should love the fact that Taylor came to that conclusion so fast. That put commitment number nine in the books for the 2012 class. Not even a month away from the 2011 class signing day, the Tide and Nick Saban are already nearing the halfway mark to finish their recruiting for next year.

It could also mark Saban's talent in picking the right people over what the "experts" think. Alabama went after two of the highest ranked running backs, Isaiah Crowell and Malcom Brown. Each chose in-state schools instead of coming to Alabama, but Saban had Demetrius Hart all sewn up and he seemed to the best running back of the bunch in the Army All-Star Game and did win the MVP for offense by being one of the top running backs in the game.

When you think of Mark Ingram, you think of a Heisman Trophy winner. But he was actually only a 4-star running back with Rivals, only the sixth best running back in Michigan and the 17th best at his position in the recruiting class. Saban knew he was the top dog of the pack and went after him hard. Later, Ingram proved Saban was right.

Something tells me it won't matter if Alabama ends up with Barry Sanders Jr. because they'll have a top dog no matter what.


Larry Burton (Syndicated Writer)