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Alabama football to create depth at running back with Jase McClellan out

Trey Sanders (#6) runs the ball for Alabama versus Miami
Picture of Trey Sanders (#6) running for a touchdown in Alabama's season opener versus Miami comes from Crimson Tide photos

Trey Sanders and Roydell Williams will get more opportunities, but it comes at a cost.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban provided bad news in Monday’s presser. Jase McClellan, a sophomore, sustained an injury during the Crimson Tide’s victory over Mississippi. Saban told reporters that it was a knee issue; however, the specifics of the mishap were unknown.

A native of Aledo, Texas, McClellan has surgery on Tuesday and will miss the rest of the season.

RELATED: Alabama coaches name 12 Players of the Week from Ole Miss game

His game was starting to resemble Josh Jacobs, a former Tide standout.

McClellan has 191 yards rushing, 97 yards receiving, and four touchdowns (three receiving). He was an explosive runner, an athletic pass-catcher, and good in pass protection. Alabama now has three healthy scholarship players at the position, including sophomores Trey Sanders and Roydell Williams. Both must emerge in McClellan’s absence, and Saban has confidence in them.

Sanders, a native of Port Saint Joe, Fla., came to the Tide in 2019 as a five-star. He suffered injuries in his first two years, but he scored a touchdown against Miami. The 6-foot, 214-pounder has not received many reps since the Mercer game, yet Crimson Tide fans view him as the best back on the roster. Coach Saban shared his excitement for Sanders scoring against the Hurricanes and wants to get him more game experience. He has 83 yards rushing with a touchdown on 20 carries after five matchups.

“Trey Sanders will get a lot more opportunities,” Saban said. “He’s gotta step up.”

Williams, a native of Hueytown, Ala., arrived on campus in 2020 as a four-star. He earned his first 100-yard rushing feat in Alabama’s meeting with Southern Mississippi. Williams totaled 110 yards with a touchdown on 11 carries. The 5-foot-10, 208-pounder averaged 10 yards per rush attempt, including a long run of 55 yards.

Despite losing a fumble versus Miami, he’s played well and has earned Saban’s trust.

Williams has 154 rushing yards with one score on 24 carries after five games.

RELATED: Alabama RB Jase McClellan out for the season with knee injury

Camar Wheaton, a true freshman, is also out.

He had a knee (meniscus) injury before the season started. Saban said the five-star from Texas has not been medically cleared to practice. Sanders and Williams have to cushion the blow of not having McClellan and Wheaton, but Saban also mentioned an emergency running back.

Alabama has to create depth at the position.

It had Keilan Robinson and Chadarius Townsend on the roster, but they left for Texas and Texas Tech, respectively. Jerome Ford was a three-star from Florida in 2018, yet he transferred to Cincinnati and has become a breakout player.

Kyle Edwards, a Louisiana native, came in the 2020 class with Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams.

Edwards entered the transfer portal in the summer.

Kristian Story and JoJo Earle made some rushing plays in high school. Earle, a freshman, has a skill set similar to Percy Harvin. Slade Bolden was a pure athlete in high school and handled gadget plays in 2019 for Alabama.

It will be interesting to see who fills the role. Alabama has a trip to Kyle Field on Saturday to face Texas A&M.

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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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