The injury to sophomore running back Jase McClellan has stirred up a series of questions surrounding the depth of the Alabama backfield. Currently, Alabama sits with just three healthy scholarship backs in Brian Robinson Jr., Roydell Willams, and Trey Sanders.
Head coach Nick Saban has mentioned that an emergency option candidate is being explored on an as-needed basis. With all the talented athletes across the depth chart in Tuscaloosa, I am not even going to begin to guess who could possibly fill that role. But what I can do is take a more in-depth look at each of the three backs that are still available and what skill set they bring to the Tide offense.
Here is the breakdown of the three scholarship backs.
First … the battle-tested senior
Brian Robinson Jr.
Oct 2, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama running back Brian Robinson Jr. (4) fights for yardage against Ole Miss defenders at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports
Robinson proved his worth this past weekend against Ole Miss with a career performance. Robinson is a big, physical back who punishes defenders each time he carries the ball. While Robinson is not likely to bust an 80-yarder any time soon, he is more than capable of wearing down a defense over a four-quarter contest with his bruising style of play.
Next … the unproven sophomore
Sep 25, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Roydell Williams (23) carries the ball against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports
Williams is a guy who possesses a lot of great qualities for a college back but is simply unproven. Williams has good vision and burst, and unlike Robinson, Williams possesses the ability to break a game open as a homerun hitter. Williams does have one issue that he needs to clean up and that’s holding on to the football. If you remember, Williams fumbled on his very first rushing attempt of the season against Miami. If Williams can improve in that area, he could be a future star for the Tide.
Next … the injury-riddled superstar
TREY SANDERS Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Sanders came to Alabama as one of the most coveted backs in the country. Sanders has great power and speed and is also dangerous out of the backfield as a receiver.
Injuries have plagued the young back in his time in Tuscaloosa. He sat out his true freshman season with an injury back in 2019. Then in the 2020 season, he was involved in a car accident that left many wondering if he would ever play football again.
We saw Sanders shine to open the 2021 season against Miami where he rushed for 41 yards on eight carries, including a 20-yard touchdown run. But Sanders has just 12 rushing attempts since the Miami contest. Many Tide fans have wondered if Sanders is even fully healthy yet or is he just not performing to the standard that Nick Saban and the staff would like to see in practice.
Regardless, Sanders is now the third option at running back for the Tide, if he could ever get back to even just 90% of the player he was before the injuries, he could be a special player for Alabama.
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