Alabama Football News

Nick Saban likes Harris & Robinson, but wants to see freshmen emerge

Adam Hagy - USA TODAY Sports

Alabama football may have a pure two-headed monster at running back for the first time since 2014 – T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry – however, head coach Nick Saban still is one for seeing freshmen make contributions at the position. 

Since 2008, a list of players that include Yeldon, Henry, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Kenyan Drake all were pivotal guys as freshmen.

The duo of Najee Harris and Brian Robinson Jr., have earned the right to set the tone for Alabama’s rushing attack next fall. 

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Despite their difference in size, running styles and star rating upon signing their letter of intent for the Crimson Tide, Saban looks at both as leaders who are “ready to take the next step.” 

“I really feel like Najee and B. Rob are both good players,” Saban said on Wednesday. 

“I think both of them have a significant amount of experience in the past. I think they are ready to make a significant contribution. They both have had really good springs.” 

During the 2014 season with Yeldon and Henry, the pair navigated the Tide to a Southeastern Conference Championship and an appearance in the first-ever College Football Playoff.  

Regardless of both individuals falling short of the 1,000-yard mark by a combined 31 yards, Yeldon and Henry made life easy for Blake Sims at quarterback. The native Georgian was the recent holder of the program’s single-season record for passing yards (3,487) and total touchdowns (35).

Now that Harris and Robinson are juniors, second-year signal caller Tua Tagovailoa has two safety nets to rely on to keep Alabama ahead of schedule on offense. While it’s great to have veterans, Saban wants to create depth at running back and provide opportunities for some young players to get involved. He likes what he sees thus far from redshirt freshman Jerome Ford, as he stated the former three-star is “showing flashes.” 

Ford, a Florida native, got better down the stretch of last season and according to sources, he turned in a strong effort in the Tide’s first scrimmage of spring practice.

Trey Sanders and Keilan Robinson (coming off surgery) are expected to be on campus this summer. Sanders, a five-star, has already expressed thoughts on him being a Heisman winner as an incoming freshman. 

The product from IMG Academy has a ton of confidence, but we’ll see how he does. 

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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