Alabama’s senior running back Kenyan Drake was carted off the field on Oct. 4, 2014 with tears, a heavy heart and a broken leg. Ole Miss got the better of Alabama last season, but Drake is ready for 2015. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior has his eyes on Mississippi and Georgia.
Drake was in amidst of a breakout year, prior to Alabama’s meeting with Ole Miss.
He totaled 112 rushing yards, 159 receiving yards and six touchdowns in five games. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin exposed Florida’s defense to Drake’s breakaway speed on Alabama’s first drive. He dialed up a 87-yard touchdown pass from Blake Sims to Drake, as he burned a linebacker on a slant and go pattern. It resulted in Sims’ longest touchdown pass of the year.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban took the podium last week at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., and assessed Drake’s playmaking abilities as a ball carrier and a receiver.
“I think Kenyan Drake has tremendous diversity as a player,” Saban said.
“He has great speed. He has very good running skill and instincts. He’s a fantastic receiver. In his position, it’s a little bit easier to almost create mismatches for him to be able to use those skills as a receiver, than it would it be if we played him at receiver because I think, if we played him at receiver, he would be one of the better receivers on our team.”
Saban said Drake was great playmaker last season and that Alabama needs more like him.
Drake, a native of Powder Springs, Ga., will travel to Sanford Stadium this season for the first time to face the Georgia Bulldogs. It’s been a tough road to recovery for him, but he’s back.
Drake was one of three seniors that traveled to Hoover with Saban for SEC Media Days.
He said the injury against Ole Miss made him realize that it would longer two-three weeks to recover. He entered the Wynfrey Hotel with a focused mindset. Drake knows he will more a hybrid player in 2015, but he is up the challenge nonetheless.
“I really pride myself on being versatile,” Drake said to WIAT News.
“I have the ability to play running back, to play receiver, be in the backfield, or line up outside. I try to give coaches the ability to do so.”
Defensive coordinators will be mindful of where No.17 in crimson and white lines up, however, containing Drake is the issue. He’s totaled 1,087 rushing yards, 294 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns in his career. Alabama will host Ole Miss inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Drake told the media that’s he 100 percent healthy, and looks to show out this season, but more importantly, he wants to navigate Alabama to a national championship.
Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.