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Alabama offensive breakout player early candidate: Jase McClellan

Alabama running back Jase McClellan (#2) breaks a long run down the sideline for the Crimson Tide against Austin Peay
Gary Cosby Jr. - USA Today Sports

Alabama football graduated its most significant leader and playmaker on offense to the NFL Draft.

Bryce Young departs to the pros after a stellar collegiate career as a quarterback, but Nick Saban returns several talented players offensively to Tuscaloosa, Ala. During spring practice, Saban has kept a consistent message to reporters: he wants the Crimson Tide to be more balanced. In having a new offensive coordinator — Tommy Rees — and entertaining a quarterback competition, Jase McClellan becomes the early candidate for breakout offensive player for the Tide. As a returning senior, the talented running back has a chance to become the next featured star in a lineage of dynamic backs. Coach Saban witnessed greatness from Glenn Coffee, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry, and Najee Harris. He also saw Kenyan Drake, Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs, and Brian Robinson have success. Ingram and Henry delivered Alabama a Heisman Trophy while Coffee, Ingram, Richardson, Lacy, Yeldon, Henry, Harris, Harris, and Robinson accomplished 1,000+ yard rushing seasons.

RELATED: Jalen Milroe’s chances of locking up the starting quarterback job this spring

Alabama did not have balance in 2022; however, Jahmyr Gibbs was electric. He turned in 926 yards rushing, 444 yards receiving, 258 kick return yards, and 10 touchdowns. Gibbs led all players in receptions (44) and projects as a first-round draft pick.

McClellan brings more physicality than Gibbs between the tackles as a runner. The 5-foot-11, 212-pounder is an all-around playmaker that gives the Tide toughness, speed, vision, quickness, and versatility. Alabama’s offensive line enjoyed blocking for McClellan last season because they loved how the native Texan finished runs. He returned from an injury in his sophomore year to produce a good campaign in 2022. He finished with 112 carries for 655 yards and a team-tying seven rushing touchdowns.

McClellan also caught 14 passes for 174 yards and three more scores. 

The Tide wants to be ‘ruthless’ and ‘scary’ on the offensive line, which plays into McClellan’s style. Tommy Rees wants to run the football and create explosive plays in the play-action pass game. He will ease in Jalen Milroe or Ty Simpson by leaning into the run game, and it presents McClellan with an opportunity to have a breakout year. The former four-star has been waiting to give fans and opponents a full taste of him. McClellan looks to turn in a 1,000+ yard season for the Crimson Tide in the fall.

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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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