Alabama Football: There’s an RB2 battle behind Najee Harris for Tide

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Najee Harris is the workhorse back for Alabama football, but there is a battle on the second string that is bound to get interesting.

Outside of this past season, we are used to seeing two quality running backs get plenty of carries for Alabama football. Glenn Coffee worked with Mark Ingram, then Ingram and Trent Richardson, and then Richardson and Eddie Lacy. Even when Derrick Henry broke records for carries and yards for the Crimson Tide, Kenyan Drake was a receiving back that changed the pace.

In Najee Harris’s sophomore season, he was in a backfield with Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris. However, he finally got to be the focal point on offense last season. Even on a team with a dominant passing game, Harris found his way to have an impact in the ground game. However, the Tide went away from the traditional two-headed monster. He had 209 carries for the Tide last year, more than double Brian Robinson’s 96. Robinson’s carries were also mostly to drain the clock late in games.

With Najee returning, there is no question who Alabama football’s starting running back will be in 2020. However, there is still a position battle in the running back room. With the Crimson Tide likely going back to a more run-heavy offense, they would love to go back to a two-back system. Who will be the second-string running back in 2020? Let’s look at the candidates.

Brian Robinson Jr.

B-Rob was hyped up to be the next Josh Jacobs. He’s flown under the radar his entire football career, and has done a decent bit with his opportunities. However, his number last year prove that his role is not safe. If he were trusted as much as an upperclassman should be, he would have surpassed 100 carries easily.

Keilan Robinson

Robinson has plenty of speed to have an impact for the Tide. He led all Tide running backs with 6.5 yards a carry, but he only had 39 rushes. I like what he brings to the fold, but he appears to be building his way into having bigger seasons as an upperclassman. He’ll get there, but he’s not there quite yet.

Trey Sanders

Sanders was the top running back from the 2019 recruiting class, but an offseason injury kept him from seeing the field as a freshman. Assuming he comes back completely healthy, Sanders will certainly have an impact in 2020. He’s a great pass-catcher with the agility to get to the second level of the defense. The ideal scenario is that Sanders plays the Kenyan Drake role next season and proves that he can live up to the recruiting hype.

Chad Townsend

Townsend has bounced between running back and wide receiver for the Tide, but he has never been given a ton of opportunities. He’s a great story, but he is certainly the underdog in this race.

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So, who will end up being RB2 for Alabama football? My money is on Sanders. He’s got all sorts of potential, and the expectation is that he will fully recover from his injury. A healthy Trey Sanders should scare just about every SEC defense, and the Tide will use him in many scenarios. If he loses the job, it will likely be to Brian Robinson Jr.