The most under-valued Alabama Football position group is running back

Alabama Football's running back group deserve more respect than college football's national media gives it.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama Crimson Tide fans know better, but the rest of the college football world under-values Alabama's running back group. The lack of appreciation is somewhat understandable, given player and group rankings mostly follow stats. The Crimson Tide's group offers little in returning production. Justice Haynes has only 25 carries in his college football career. Jam Miller has only 74 carries in two seasons of Alabama Football. As a freshman, Richard Young only had nine rushing attempts.

Along with the Crimson Tide's freshmen, Daniel Hill and Kevin Riley, the Tide's main three running backs give Alabama Football one of college football's most impressive position groups. However, the 'impressive' distinction is based mostly on potential rather than performance.

For perspective on how Alabama's running backs rate among national experts, Pro Football Focus (PFF) recently ranked the Top 10 running back units for the 2024 season. Only two SEC groups made the list; Georgia at No. 3 and Ole Miss at No. 5. Ohio State deserved the No. 1 ranking, not just because Quinshon Judkins is arguably college football's best running back.

Others in PFF's Top 10 are UCF (No. 2), Penn State (No. 4), Miami (No. 6), Oregon (No. 7), Kansas (No. 8), Kansas State (No. 9) and West Virginia (No. 10). A guess is the rankings did not consider the quality of rushing defenses the backs in the top 10 have faced in their careers.

Alabama Football Running Backs and National Rankings

Grant Hughes of 247Sports published a list of college football's Top 10 Running Backs. It is a good list: 1) Tahj Brooks (Texas Tech); Kay'Ron Lynch-Adams (Michigan State); RJ Harvey (UCF); Omarion Hampton (North Carolina); DJ Giddens ( Kansas State); Bhayshul Tuten (Virginia Tech); Kyle Monangai (Rutgers); Ollie Gordon II (Oklahoma State) and Damien Martinez (Miami).

There is no data-driven argument that Alabama has a running back deserving of being on a Top 10 list. Additionally, the offensive scheme and the performance of Alabama's offensive line will impact how well the Tide's running backs do in 2024. But Crimson Tide fans have good reasons to believe that Jam Miller, Justice Haynes, and Richard Young can become the best running back trio in college football. A few weeks ago, Haynes was ranked in college football's Top 65 running backs. Justice was ranked No. 27. Alabama fans are right to argue that No. 27 is way too low for Haynes. And Jam Miller may be as good or better than Haynes.

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