Alabama Football: Running back rotation looking crowded

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

With fall camp in full swing, Alabama Football is slowly working out rotations and structuring its depth chart. The Crimson Tide has position battles and internal competition all over the field, even more so than in most years.

The running back position is no exception, although its circumstances are a little different. Bama appears to be loaded with capable contributors at running back heading into the 2023 season.

For contrast, look no further than the quarterback position. Coach Nick Saban has made it very clear that he and the rest of the coaching staff are waiting for someone to step up and seize the quarterback job. At the commencement of fall camp, he made the following comments on the position group:

"“You’re gonna ask me about the quarterbacks every day, and every day I’m gonna tell you the same thing…You know, everybody’s getting reps at the position. Somebody’s gotta take the bull by the horns. Somebody’s gotta separate themselves. When that happens, we’ll tell you. We’ll be glad to tell you when we’re going to take the cake out of the oven.”"

The running back competition is a little more complicated. It appears that Alabama Football has at least four worthy candidates that have already proven themselves or are in the process of doing so.

Senior Jase McClellan is a proven commodity that, when healthy, has gotten starter reps since his sophomore year. He enjoyed his best season in 2022, tallying 829 yards and 10 touchdowns from scrimmage despite splitting carries with eventual first round draft pick Jahmyr Gibbs.

McClellan is a well-rounded back; he has the size to run between the tackles despite being primarily considered a speed back, and is an effective receiver as well. He has even been a special teams standout in the past, returning a blocked punt for a touchdown in 2021. McClellan has amassed over 1,300 yards and scored 17 total touchdowns in his Alabama career. He will likely be RB1 on opening day, and will have a massive opportunity to add to those career numbers in 2023.

Fellow senior Roydell Williams is equally established in the Crimson Tide backfield. Williams, along with McClellan, came to Alabama in the class of 2020. He has been a fixture in the Bama running back rotation ever since, specializing in goal line and short yardage situations. His roles have mostly been limited, but Roydell Williams has generally been effective and dependable. In his career, he has totaled 605 rushing yards on just under 5.0 yards per carry with six touchdowns, adding one more score through the air.

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of Williams, and have wondered what he would do in an expanded role. We likely won’t find out this season, as the RB room is as crowded as it’s ever been in his time on campus. I expect him to continue to excel in his third down and goal line responsibilities in 2023, hopefully scoring a bunch of short yardage touchdowns in the process.

Sophomore Jam Miller should factor in as well. As a true freshman last season, most of Miller’s opportunities came in mop-up duty, but he made the most of them and was always exciting to watch. He has drawn rave reviews from Coach Nick Saban this offseason, and reportedly played well in Bama’s first fall scrimmage despite battling a thigh contusion.

True freshman Justice Haynes was the talk of the spring, performing well in practice and scoring three touchdowns on A-Day. Haynes is arguably the player that the fan base is most eager to see this fall, but how many touches will the freshman get with three older players also performing well?

Next. More notes from first fall scrimmage. dark

Justice Haynes has been described by some as “too good to keep off the field.” If he can live up to this billing, Alabama Football will have one of the deepest backfield rotations in the country. Just the way it’s supposed to be.