Is this the best and most versatile running room Nick Saban has had? A case can be made…

In a season where Alabama is seemingly stacked at running back, its main backfield threat might not come from within or via a 5-star high school sensation ready to make an immediate splash.

Perhaps Crimson Tide’s best comeback comes from the transfer gate, a neighboring state and another conference. It could be junior multidimensional dynamo Jahmyr Gibbs, who had 1,800 all-around yards and 7 touchdowns last season at Georgia Tech and was named a first-team All-ACC. He weighs 5-10 and 200 pounds, and he has the ability to terrorize SEC defenses as a runner and receiver.

There have even been whispers among watchers this spring and summer that Bryce Young might not be the only Heisman Trophy contender who resides in Bama’s backfield. The elusive Gibbs has the potential to be so good. He gave Tide fans an immediate glimpse of what they’re getting this fall, ripping off a 75-yard touchdown run in the spring game en route to being named A-Day MVP.

Gibbs can also be that speed-dealer Tide needs in its backfield in 2022. The late Brian Robinson provided a lot of production last season with 1,343 yards and 14 touchdowns, but what he didn’t have was his c It was that circuit speed that Gibbs possesses. The native of Dalton, Georgia received the ultimate praise even before playing an official game in Tuscaloosa.

“He’s been a really great addition to our team,” Bama coach Nick Saban said during spring training. “He has great speed. He’s a really good receiver, a good third back. He has a big vision. It has a really good shine after a cut. I’m really, really impressed with what he’s been able to do. He is intelligent. He picked up things. He is an experienced player. He does a really good job of understanding what we’re trying to do and how we’re doing it, and that’s what experienced players can do.

Gibbs’ versatility simply cannot be underestimated. In addition to his 746 rushing yards, he caught 36 balls for 470 yards out of the backfield and had 23 kickoff returns for 589 yards and 1 touchdown, so Saban can also use him as a special teams weapon. . Gibbs was named to the 2021 All-ACC team in three different positions, making first-team all-around guard, second-team return specialist and third-team running back. Tide fans will find Gibbs’ all-terrain truck full of talent this fall.

While Gibbs will be on a mission to win over his newfound rabid fanbase, junior Jase McClellan’s mission will be to prove that his moments of genius in 2020 can come back in clusters this season after his 2021 campaign was cut short by an ACL injury. in Game 5 of the season against Mississippi. The 5-foot-11, 212-pound McClellan wasn’t ready to return to the A-Day game yet this spring, so there must be some curiosity around what he can and can’t do once the real matches begin.

McClellan had already received 3 touchdowns when he was injured last season and was solidly the No. 2 running back behind Robinson on the depth chart. He had an emphatic breakout moment as a rookie in 2020 with an 80-yard run that was Crimson Tide’s longest of the season, so anyone who follows the program with a long enough memory knows what McClellan is all about. able. The big question is, what will McClellan be able to come out of the serious injury?

Junior Roydell Williams suffered the same fate as McClellan later in the season, injuring his knee against New Mexico State. The 5-foot-10, 212-pound Williams had 284 rushing yards when he suffered the season-ending injury, including a 100-yard game against Southern Mississippi, so he was a known commodity by the time he is dropped later in the season. Because of this, Williams’ potential for 2022 is another mystery for Tide fans, as like McClellan, he missed the A-Day game while recovering from injury.

Sticking with the throwback theme, there’s the curious study of redshirt junior Trey Sanders, who has lived virtually everything in Tuscaloosa. The 6-foot, 214-pound former 5-star rookie saw his first season ruined by a Lisfranc injury to his foot. Then there was the car accident in 2020 in which he suffered multiple broken bones. It was unclear whether he would play football again, but after a lengthy rehab, Sanders finally scored his first college touchdown in last year’s season-opening win over Miami.

With injuries to McClellan and Williams, Sanders suddenly had a shot to make a huge impact and he did just that, rushing for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns as Robinson’s main backup. With health finally on his side, the resilient Sanders will be all the more motivated to show that 2021 was just the start of his rebirth. His big challenge now will be to stand out among a talented and crowded race hall in Tuscaloosa.

Gibbs, McClellan, Williams and Sanders give Tide a formidable and deep quartet on the 2022 depth chart, past injuries and all, but Bama’s wealth of backfield talent doesn’t stop there. Real freshmen Emmanuel Henderson and Jamarion Miller arrive this season with star potential to go with their 4-star ratings.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Henderson stood out in-state at Geneva County High School in Hartford and chose Tuscaloosa over Auburn, Georgia and Clemson. That alone should make the fan base happy. The same goes for his pure athleticism, as Henderson was a three-sport phenom in Geneva who also played in basketball and athletics. Henderson might also be able to contribute immediately as a receiver and return specialist.

Miller was an early registrant at Tyler Legacy High School in Texas, where he racked up a school-best 4,688 yards to go with 47 touchdowns in 4 seasons. Like Henderson, Miller is also versatile, posting 380 receiving yards as a senior at Tyler. The 5-foot-10, 201-pound Miller could have stayed in the state, but he said no to Austin and chose Bama over Texas. He can also fly, having posted a 10.71 in the 100 yards as a junior.

Henderson and Miller, big high school honors and all, might have to wait a long time for their turn in 2022, given Bama’s wealth in that position. Then again, as 2021 has shown, a few injuries can change the whole picture, as well as the depth chart.

About Ethel Partin

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