Alabama's Derrick Henry to Revolutionize Running Back Position

By Patrick Schmidt
Derrick Henry-Alabama Crimson Tide
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama freshman running back Derrick Henry likely won’t lead the Crimson Tide in rushing this season barring an injury to T.J. Yeldon, but the all-time prep rushing leader will lead the SEC in, “did you just see that” moments.

The 6-3, 240-pound Yulee, Fla. native enrolled early at Alabama where the plan was for him to compete for the backup spot to Yeldon before a fractured fibula cut his spring practice short and disappointed the masses who hoped to see him at the team’s A-Day.

However, that injury was merely a bump in the road for Henry, who ran for 4,261 yards as a senior and will play a valuable role as a freshman. Looking at Alabama’s depth chart at running back is almost comical. The Tide roll seven deep at running back and in addition to Henry, received commitments from three other backs ranked four stars or higher.

Altee Tenpenny, Alvin Kamara and Tyren Jones bring a different skill-set to the field, but none are quite the total package or elicit the “wow” factor Henry does. He looks like a 28-year-old NFL veteran and is built like an outside linebacker and will be bigger than some defensive ends he tries to run past.

Confirmed: Alabama freshman RB Derrick Henry is large.

— Matt Scalici (@MattScalici) August 6, 2013

Prior to his arrival in Tuscaloosa, some had wondered aloud if Henry’s future would be at another position because of his bulk. You just don’t see too many backs with his considerable mass, but rather than foolishly moving him to h-back, Alabama is keeping him at running back where he can be a transcendent figure.

He doesn’t need a great offensive line to pave the way for him as much as some smaller backs need, but at Alabama, he has that, which will give opposing linebackers nightmares of his rumbling in the open field. Henry will run past you, by you and through you.

Watching Henry perform during Saturday’s scrimmage, you never would have known he was a few months removed from leg surgery. Henry ran 11 times for 38 yards and a touchdown, and afterward was singled out by Nick Saban for his play. He has the size, power, determination and 4.5 speed to be a legendary player for Saban’s team.

Yeldon is the feature back and will amass around 1,500 yards on the ground and Henry will gain around 750-1,000 yards because of the other quality backs on the roster like Kenyan Drake in addition to the phenomenal freshman foursome.

As great as Yeldon is — and he’s one of the top-two backs in the conference — the player I’m most looking forward to seeing is Henry. We have never really seen a player quite like him before, and it may be a long time before we see a player enter college like him again.

He’s a special player on a special team playing for a special coach. This combination could mean Henry is one of the game’s more transcendent players who will have you saying “wow” every time he touches the ball.

Patrick’s a college football writer for Rant Sports and radio host on Follow him on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt and add him to your Google network.

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