Alabama Football: Predicting 2021 RB distributions

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Alabama football has plenty of great running backs this year

Alabama football has plenty of different strategies for handling the run game. Last year, Najee Harris received around 60% of the touches. In the past, there has been more of an even distribution between two star backs.

In 2021, Alabama will have one of the deepest running back groups in college football. Even without Keilan Robinson, the Tide have five running backs who could start on almost any roster in the country. With that many mouths to feed, it has to be an active priority to distribute the ball.

There’s a variety of skills and experience levels on the roster. Alabama football has a lot of weapons in the arsenal, but how often will they be used? Here’s a prediction of the distribution of snaps for the Tide running backs.

Brian Robinson: 45%

Last season, Najee received 60% of the snaps. Don’t expect Robinson to receive that percentage due to the depth behind him. He has more experience than the rest of the group combined, but there are still too many mouths to feed in Tuscaloosa. He will easily be the starter, and he will likely play almost all of the key snaps, but you have to develop the talent behind him when you can.

Jase McClellan: 25%

This is where things get interesting. You have three players with experience in the offense, and they all have what it takes to contribute. I expect McClellan to be RB2 simply because he has an extra gear. His speed will change the pace of the offense, and that will be valuable over the course of the regular season.

Trey Sanders: 15%

Sanders might have the highest ceiling out of all the players on the roster, but injuries have plagued his Alabama football career so far. If he is fully healthy, he can be an elite back who works in on third downs. This is assuming he can do that. If he’s still recovering from injuries, he will slide down the depth chart.

Roydell Williams: 10%

Williams and McClellan are equally skilled, so it’s hard to have such a large gap in their reps. The only reason McClellan has a higher percentage is that he does something unique. Williams is a great runner, but his skill set is very similar to Robinson’s. He also doesn’t have the same level of breakaway speed that McClellan has, which will impact his role as a reserve back.

Last season, McClellan only had four more carries than Williams. Still, he had 174 more rushing yards. He averaged over 10 yards per carry because of a few breakaway runs. That will set him apart.

Camar Wheaton: 5%

This is simply because Wheaton is a freshman and the room is already loaded. Wheaton turned some heads when he committed to play Alabama football, and he will have to wait his turn. That doesn’t mean that he isn’t capable of contributing. There are just more proven options ahead of him on the depth chart.

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Regardless of what happens, Alabama will have a reliable running back on the field. It’s just a matter of who will get more touches.