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Tears. It was one of three things that disappointed Alabama’s senior running back Kenyan Drake in last year’s meeting against Ole Miss. With a towel over his face, Drake held his left leg in agony as it shattered at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Oct. 4, 2014.

An injury to Alabama’s roadrunner took all the air out its sail. Center Ryan Kelly and linebacker Denzel Devall were victimized next; however, the mishap to Drake changed the Crimson Tide’s offense. It suffered a 23-17 loss, and Drake’s season was done. Surgery was his only option.

He was leading the team in touchdowns (6) prior to the injury, but all Crimson Tide fans could think of was a national championship with a healthy Drake. A tough physical and mental rehabilitation would soon follow. Hype videos of Drake training on an anti-gravity treadmill and riding to class on a scooter went viral on social media. He was clocked in the sub 4.3s in the 40-yard dash during Alabama’s 2014 pro day. All were signs of his determination.

He appeared at the Wynfrey Hotel (Hoover, Ala.) for SEC Media Days in clean attire and a clear mindset. Drake didn’t scrimmage much in fall camp, but all eyes beheld his return on Sept. 5.

A 33-yard reception and 43-yard rushing touchdown was Alabama needed to see against Wisconsin. Drake looked smoother, quicker and better on two plays, than before the injury.

He’s accounted for 355 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns since his return.

Drake was one of two honorees for Alabama’s offensive player of the week, after logging five catches for 91 yards and a touchdown against Middle Tennessee State.

Bryant-Denny Stadium is the venue this year and ESPN’s College GameDay will be in the mix. Saturday presents Drake with an opportunity to come face to face with the team that ripped away his season and gave Alabama its only regular season loss in 2014, the Ole Miss Rebels.

The senior and native Georgian has waited roughly a year for this moment.

Will he seize it? Will Drake finish what he started? Saturday night will unveil it all.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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 15 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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