This is the third in a six-part series looking ahead to the start of Alabama’s spring football practice.
The skill-position players on offense are a talented group, and, if it’s possible, that adulation is an understatement for the group of running backs, wide receivers and tight ends Alabama has acquired. The names read like a list of freaks, and by and large, they are. Bo Scarbrough is a physical specimen who, when healthy, is among the best running backw in the country. Calvin Ridley is the best receiver on a team full of good receivers. Tight end Miller Forristall began to establish himself in the second half of last season and should be better this season. And that’s just to name three athletes. The actual list is much more comprehensive. The running back position is loaded with absurd talent, an almost embarrassment of riches. There are also a wide variety of talents available among the wide receivers, especially if Robert Foster chooses to stay and is healthy (he openly talked about transferring at the end of last season but remains on the team’s spring roster).
Intrigue level: 2
*Intrigue level is rated on a scale of 1-5 based on competition, number of starting spots available at a respective position and growth needed for a position
This is the portion of the article where Alabama fans sit back and smile comfortably. The amount of absurdly talented running backs at the offense’s disposal can do that to a fan base. Scarbrough leads the pack as a freakishly big and fast bull of a back that can just easily run away from a defensive back as he can run through a linebacker’s tackle. Damien Harris is a veteran that can do all the little things a team needs. Josh Jacobs is becoming a complete back with a different gear that makes him elusive. He also has great vision. B.J. Emmons showed flashes last season, too, before suffering a season-ending injury. Then there are the incoming freshmen, already on campus, who will compete in a loaded backfield for carries. The first was one of the top-rated high school players in the country, Najee Harris, who has the chance to be special, but remember, he’s a just a freshman. The other is no stranger to those who got a chance to see him play at Hillcrest High School. Brian Robinson is a Tuscaloosa kid and a talented ball carrier in his own right.
Some have questioned if Ridley went through a sophomore slump in 2016. Far from it. The talented speedster caught more than 70 passes but his numbers dropped a bit due to then-freshman quarterback not being able to get him the ball down the field. Ridley remains just as difficult a matchup for defenders as he did during his stellar freshman season. Behind him are Cam Sims, Trevon Diggs and both will have good chances to earn starting jobs. Foster is a wild card, as most forget he was off to a great start in 2015 before he had a season-ending shoulder injury. A couple of freshmen already on campus who will go through spring practice will also contend for playing time in Tyrell Shavers and Jerry Jeudy. T.J. Simmons and and Derek Kief will also battle for playing time and roles on the team.
Hale Hentges is the veteran of the group but Forristall really began establishing himself last season as a guy who will be hard to keep off the field. Irv Smith Jr. is also a talented guy who brings some versatility to his game. It’s easy to envision Smith Jr. as a player who could play the H-back position as well as tight end. True freshman Major Tennison is a 6-foot-5, 244-pounder who could contend for a role. Then there is the intriguing prospect of Cam Stewart, a 6-8 target who came to the Crimson Tide program after a stint in minor league baseball.
Alabama has a list of skill-position weapons that could be a nightmare for defensive coordinators. Some of it (the wide receivers) will depend on how much growth Hurts experiences during the offseason. The running backs could do a lot of damage with a more powerful offensive line, punching holes in the middle of defenses. All in all, the skill positions at Alabama are loaded.
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.