The Alabama Crimson Tide may have defeated the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers for their second win of the season Saturday, but it appears that do-everything back Jalston Fowler will not return for the 2012 season after suffering a knee injury.
The injury, occurring late in the fourth quarter is a devastating blow for the Crimson Tide. Fowler not only carried a share of the running back workload, but began work with the tight ends and h-backs during the fall practice to increase his playing time. Coaches praised his efforts, emphasizing that with a 6’1 240lbs athlete like Fowler, they never wanted to take him off the field.
Now the Crimson Tide must not only replace a running back, but a fullback, h-back, and special teamer as well. As gifted as he was, Fowler was a bit of an unsung hero on Alabama’s squad, but was instrumental in a number of areas in each game.
Fowler’s injury will undoubtedly be a blow to the Crimson Tide, however, it did occur at what is considered to be Alabama’s deepest position. Redshirt freshman Kenyan Drake, who rushed for a 32 yard touchdown against Western Kentucky is expected to receive an increased role in the running back rotation. Meanwhile it is expected that starting H-back Kelley Johnson will handle Fowler’s duties at fullback.
Fowler was never the big name in the running back corps that featured Eddie Lacy, and five star tailbacks Dee Hart and TJ Yeldon. However, that wasn’t due to talent, more so due to the fact Fowler was not allowed to play his senior year at Vigor High School due to turning 19 years old before an Alabama High School Athletic Association deadline.
Although he never played a down in his final high school season, Fowler headed to the Capstone as a four star athlete. The question rose as to where Fowler would play, shuffling from linebacker, eventually settling in a loaded backfield.
He may have been lost in the shuffle at first, but Fowler eventually worked his way into the rotation, setting himself up for a breakout season in 2012 after averaging just under 7 yards per carry in 2011.