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Early spring practice positional battles: Who secures the starting RB spot for Alabama?

Jase McClellan carries the football against Southern Miss
Photo by Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Spring practice begins next month for Alabama football.

Crimson Tide fans are ready to see their team make a return to the College Football Playoff National Championship stage, but the work starts in March and April. Nick Saban has graduated a lot of experience to the NFL Draft, but the Tide has retooled its deck of players and coaches.

RELATED: Early spring practice positional battles: Who wins backup QB job between Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson?

The staff at Touchdown Alabama Magazine is getting everyone prepared for spring football with a new series.

We will be highlighting early spring positions battles and which players will earn starting roles. After a breakdown of the defensive tackles and ends, we flip things back over to the offensive side of the ball and take a look at the Crimson Tide’s running back room.

JAHMYR GIBBS

Alabama had a monster offseason when it came to filling holes from the transfer portal and it all began when Jahmyr Gibbs transferred to the Crimson Tide back in December. Standing at 5’11 and weighing just over 200 pounds, Gibbs was a slick and crafty three-down back during his two seasons at Georgia Tech. Gibbs immediately saw time the second he stepped onto campus as he amassed a total of 1,206 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground for the Yellow Jackets.

Through the air, Gibbs was equally as effective catching 60 passes for 773 yards and five touchdowns. He has the exact sort of makeup that Alabama has looked for in its modern-day running backs. After Brian Robinson turned back the clock to a more early version of a bruising Nick Saban back, Gibbs is the three-down player who will continuously be putting pressure on the defense whenever he’s on the field.

The importance of acquiring Gibbs only heightened when Alabama’s two young running backs Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams suffered season-ending injuries while five-star freshman Camar Wheaton opted to enter the transfer portal. Besides the short stint of playing time from McClellan and Williams the most experienced running back on Alabama’s roster was Trey Sanders who performed well when called upon during the late stretches of the season.

But Gibbs will be going into the spring with a bit of a leg up on the competition due to his health and experience that will bolster the Crimson Tide’s offense.

JASE MCCLELLAN

As previously mentioned, Jase McClellan’s playing time was short-lived during the 2021 campaign due to injury. But when he was on the field, McClellan proved to be a difference-maker for Alabama. Through five games the Aledo, TX native carried the football 40 times while rushing for 191 yards and one touchdown while averaging 4.8 yards per attempt. This included an impressive performance against Southern Missississippi when McClellan rushed for 97 yards on 12 attempts during the team’s Week 4 matchup.

But it was through the air where McClellan was proving to become a major factor as he caught 10 passes for 97 yards and three touchdowns. His most notable performance through the air came against Florida where he caught four passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. Against the Gators McClellan proved to be a legitimate red-zone threat through the air which is an aspect of the offense Alabama missed when he suffered his injury.

Now months removed from surgery following the Ole Miss game, McClellan hopes to be the man, or at the very least a key contributor in the backfield alongside Gibbs as the spring rolls around.

MORE NAMES TO WATCH DURING THE SPRING

-Roydell Williams

-Trey Sanders

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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77

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