Alabama Football: What signing Richard Young & Justice Haynes means

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

In addition to assembling one of the best defensive recruiting classes of all time, Alabama football signed two of the best running backs in the nation in Justice Haynes and Richard Young.

Both members of this electric tandem are considered consensus top-5 running backs. Haynes and Young are complete backs that should bring some physicality back to the Alabama backfield.

According to the 247Sports Composite, 5-star Justice Haynes is the no. 25 overall player, the no. 3 running back, and the second-best player in the state of Georgia behind Bama commit Caleb Downs.

4-star Richard Young is the no. 48 overall player, the no. 4 running back, and the 10th best prospect from the state of Florida. Young was considered a 5-star for a long time before recently being dropped to a 4-star, but there is no question that he is an elite talent.

Surprisingly, Alabama football has not had a 5-star running back pan out in a long time. Trey Sanders, the top running back in the 2019 class, battled injuries and misfortune his entire Bama career before recently entering the transfer portal. Camar Wheaton, a 5-star in the 2021 cycle, was on campus for less than a year. He entered the portal under mysterious circumstances without ever playing a down, eventually landing at SMU.

Even Emmanuel Henderson, who was the no. 2 running back in the 2022 class and a borderline 5-star, was moved to wide receiver upon arriving in Tuscaloosa.

Justice Haynes and Richard Young appear to be a can’t-miss duo. I fully expect them to live up to their blue-chip billing during their time at Alabama.

The pair will have an opportunity to earn snaps early, but they could be entering a crowded backfield. The biggest question is whether or not all-purpose back Jahmyr Gibbs will return for another season. If Gibbs returns, it may be difficult for the freshmen to find reps in year one.

If Jahmyr Gibbs pursues the NFL Draft as expected, Alabama football still returns three solid running backs. Jase McClellan is a well-rounded back who began to carry the load towards the end of his junior season. He has 1,311 total yards and 15 touchdowns in his career, and would likely be the starter heading into next season.

Classmate Roydell Williams is a very physical back that thrived in goal line opportunities in 2022. He has 676 total yards and seven touchdowns in his career. Lastly, Jamarion Miller showed some pop in his true freshman season. Miller ran for 179 yards and two scores on 6.0 yards per carry.

With the addition of Justice Haynes and Richard Young, the Alabama running back room could return to what it used to be under Coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide could begin to prioritize the running game more, throwing three or four elite backs at a defense over the course of a game.

Next. Saban might not be done with 2023 class. dark

Many believe this 2023 recruiting class is the one that will return Alabama football to prominence. Coach Saban signing this running back duo surely won’t hurt.