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Derrick Henry, A featured back

He gained attention in Alabama’s 2014 Sugar Bowl matchup against Oklahoma, but running back Derrick Henry looks to take on a leadership role in 2015. The rising junior led Alabama in rushing, totaling 990 yards and 11 touchdowns on 5.8 yards per carry in 2014.

Henry started his sophomore campaign with a 100-yard rushing performance in Alabama’s season opener against West Virginia. He recorded 113 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

Injuries to T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake opened up more opportunities for Henry. His second 100-yard game happened inside Bryant-Denny Stadium against Florida. He pounded the Gators for 111 yards and a touchdown on 5.6 yards per carry. Alabama defeated Florida, 42-21.

Henry didn’t total 100+ yards rushing against Texas A&M and Auburn, yet he made his presence felt by wearing both defenses down in the second half. He accounted for 111 total yards (70 rushing, 41 receiving) and two touchdowns against Texas A&M. Henry averaged 14.4 yards per carry against Auburn, netting 72 yards and a touchdown on five carries. Alabama scored 50+ points in both games.

The 2014 Southeastern Conference Championship Game is where it all came together for Henry. Yeldon was limited, but Missouri’s defense had its hands full with Henry. He put in 141 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Henry’s efforts helped Alabama win 42-13, capturing the program’s 24th conference title.

He produced in Atlanta, but it’s something about New Orleans that makes Henry want to go the extra mile. Crimson Tide fans hated the loss against Oklahoma, but it couldn’t keep its eyes off No.27. He gashed the Sooners’ for 161 total yards and two touchdowns. Henry collected 149 total yards and a touchdown in Alabama’s 42-35 loss against Ohio State in 2015 Sugar Bowl.

Glen Coffee, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon all have totaled 1,000 yards rushing as featured backs under head coach Nick Saban. Henry came 10 yards shy of the mark in 2014, but will have a chance to obtain it next season. Alabama returns a solid offensive line, led by senior center Ryan Kelly and sophomore left tackle Cam Robinson.

Henry, a former five-star prospect, was an absolute man child at Yulee High School. The Florida native broke Ken Hall’s 51-year-old national high school rushing record, totaling 12,124 yards and 153 touchdowns. He is a one-cut running back that has power and speed. Henry, who stands at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, is a patient runner and an exceptional pass catcher.

Both of Alabama’s Sugar Bowl losses were a product of one thing, a lack of physicality throughout the game. A new quarterback will be unveiled in 2015, and Henry looks to take advantage. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is a “pass happy” coach, but with a balanced offensive line and Henry returning, Alabama’s best offense is a dominant run game.

Alabama’s featured running backs under Nick Saban (2008)
Name Year Rushing Yards Rushing TDs YPC Average
Glen Coffee 2008 1,383 10 5.9
Mark Ingram 2009 1,658 17 6.1
Trent Richardson 2011 1,679 21 5.9
Eddie Lacy 2012 1,322 17 6.4
T.J. Yeldon 2013-14 1,234 (2013) 14 (2013) 6.0 (2013)
Derrick Henry - Alabama Running Back -

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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