The Alabama coaching staff is full of great coaches who do a great job of developing talent and turning them into dominant players. There is one coach however, that has been so key to the Crimson Tide over the past years that some could call him the most important assistant coach. That would be running backs coach Burton Burns.
Burns is now entering his ninth season with the Crimson Tide, and with a great duo of Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake, some would say his job should be easy. However, that couldn’t be any further from the truth for the 2015 season.
Replacing a back with the talent of T.J. Yeldon would be hard enough for any coach in the country, but for Burns there is one other position that could make or break the 2015 Crimson Tide.
The loss of Jalston Fowler left a huge hole at the fullback position. The 254 pound Fowler was a key contributor during his entire career at Alabama. Fowler finished second on the team in touchdown receptions in 2013 and played in all 14 games in 2014. The biggest factor with Fowler was his blocking ability, and the way he could attack the line of scrimmage to create open lanes for other rushers.
For Burns, finding a replacement for Fowler won’t be easy and without a good lead blocker the entire offense could be held up. Coming into this season many project Michael Nysewander to step in and become the new starting fullback. The 237 pound Nysewander played in eight games last season, and had two catches for 21 yards and a touchdown.
Burton Burns has coached two Heisman Trophy finalists and one Heisman winner during his time at Alabama. However, his greatest coaching job has been with Fowler. Burns took a fullback who tore his PCL in 2012 and almost quit football all together, and molded him into one of the best fullbacks in the country and a fourth round draft pick.
Burns, a former fullback himself at Nebraska, knows how to mold young men and turn them into great players. Even with the lack of depth at the fullback positon, look for Burns to develop Nysewander and try to incorporate O.J. Howard into the blocking scheme as well.
Alabama’s rushing attack has been dominant for eight years under Burns, and don’t look for this season to be any different.