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What Keilan Robinson transferring means for Alabama?

Keilan Robinson running the ball at Alabama spring practice
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics

Alabama now has its first running back in the transfer portal after spring football.

Keilan Robinson opted out before the 2020 season started because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He would bulk up his body and return to campus in the spring of this year.

After showing playmaking abilities as a freshman, Robinson was embracing the idea of being a back and a wide receiver. However, it has not worked out for him. The talented junior has entered the NCAA transfer portal, becoming the first domino to fall in the running back room.

Robinson’s decision leaves the Crimson Tide with six backs, and there is potential for another one to possibly transfer. During his coaching tenure in Tuscaloosa, Nick Saban typically likes to rotate three guys on the field. He would have a power back, a speed/explosive back, and a change of pace back to offset defenses.

RELATED: Alabama running back Keilan Robinson enters transfer portal

Brian Robinson carries the power and Jase McClellan has the speed, but who will be the third option?

This opens a conversation between Roydell Williams, Trey Sanders, and Camar Wheaton.

Kyle Edwards is also on the roster, but the Louisiana native did not play last year.

Roydell Williams stiff arms Jordan Battle during A-Day

Alabama RB Roydell Williams (No. 23) stiff arms Jordan Battle on A-Day/ Photo comes from Kent Gidley – Alabama Athletics

Williams, a sophomore, totaled 71 yards rushing with one touchdown on 19 carries in 2020.

He finished his career at Hueytown (Ala.) High School with 5,929 rushing yards, 84 rushing touchdowns, and 92 total scores.

The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder has been training with Leonard Stephens of Step By Step Performance in Birmingham, and he played well in Alabama’s spring game.

Williams had 108 total yards, including 65 yards receiving on four catches for the first-team offense. He brings a combination of speed, power, and cutback abilities to the rotation.

Williams also possesses the home run ability to break plays for scores.

Sanders, a redshirt sophomore, arrived on campus as a five-star from Florida in 2019.

RELATED: Alabama’s Malachi Moore, Brian Branch, and Kristian Story bonded over a game of hoops during Memorial Day weekend

Trey Sanders takes handoff against Mississippi State

Alabama RB Trey Sanders (No. 24) takes hand-off in 2020 matchup against Mississippi State/Photo comes via Kent Gidley – Alabama Athletics/SEC Media Portal

He has the physical traits and capabilities needed to be a stud at running back; however, injuries have limited him. Sanders suffered a foot injury before the start of his freshman season, and then he was involved in a car accident during the middle of 2020. He did not compete in the A-Day; nevertheless, he totaled 30 carries for 134 yards last year. The 6-foot, 214-pounder can salvage his career and be a productive player, but can he shake the injury bug? If he’s able to do it, then Sanders becomes a factor.

Wheaton, a true freshman, had Tide fans salivating when he committed and signed his letter of intent.

Camar Wheaton posing during his visit to Alabama football

Alabama RB Camar Wheaton posing during his visit to Alabama football/ Photo comes via Wheaton’s Twitter profile

He was a superstar at Lakeview Centennial High School, and Saban signed him despite having a crowded room at the position.

Wheaton has the size, speed, power, vision, cutback abilities, versatility, and change of direction skills to be special. He is not coming in with redshirting on his mind. The five-star from Texas has his sights on winning one of the top three spots.

Coach Saban has chosen a freshman over an upperclassman, especially if it gives Alabama a better chance to be effective.

Keilan Robinson’s departure is tough, but the Tide has other options at running back. It will be entertaining to see how the rotation shakes out.

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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.

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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