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Crimson Countdown: Kenyan Drake

6/3/2013

During the summer, TideNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Alabama roster -- excluding the Tide's 2013 recruiting class -- in our Crimson Countdown series. Starting with No. 1 Dee Hart, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Brandon Ivory.

No. 17 Kenyan Drake

Sophomore running back

Expectations for 2013: One day you're fifth on the depth chart and the next you have the opportunity to rise to No. 2 overall. Such is the case for Drake, who began last season buried behind Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon, Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart. But after season-ending injuries to Fowler and Hart, Drake showed he could be a valuable asset, rushing for 285 yards and four touchdowns on 42 carries. With Lacy gone and Fowler and Hart still questionable, Drake has every opportunity to become the second back behind Yeldon. Drake could carry the ball as many as 10-15 times per game.

Best-case scenario: It remains to be seen just what Drake can do with the football in his hands. Because most of his carries came in mop-up duty with the second-team offensive line and a running quarterback to hand him the ball, his numbers are skewed. But one thing is certain: The true sophomore can fly. At 6.7 yards per carry, he's the most explosive running back Alabama has. Now that he'll be running with the first-team line and have a passing threat under center to play off of, we'll get to see how much better those numbers can be.

Worst-case scenario: Drake won't be alone in the backfield, though. In fact, there are plenty of challengers hoping to take carries away from the Georgia native, most notably true freshman Derrick Henry. The former five-star prospect is an athletic freak at 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds and has already drawn comparisons to Trent Richardson. But coming off a broken leg, it remains to be seen how much he'll contribute. Throw in three more talented rookie backs -- four star prospects Altee Tenpenny, Tyren Jones and Alvin Kamara -- and you're looking at a crowded stable for Drake to fight through.

Future impact: The running back rotation at Alabama has become seamless: Mark Ingram begat Trent Richardson who begat Eddie Lacy who begat T.J. Yeldon. If the same line holds true, Drake will succeed Yeldon when he inevitably leaves for the NFL in a few years and then another back will have to play the part of understudy.