- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
The University of Alabama has become the premier destination for the nation’s top running backs. Former stars Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson are now playing on Sundays, and the Crimson Tide’s backfield this season is made up of three former ESPN 150 stars.
But is there such a thing as having too many good running backs?
On Friday, Alabama picked up a commitment from four-star athlete Derrick Henry. He became the Tide’s 21st commitment -- nine of whom are in the ESPN 150, with Henry ranked No. 48 -- but it is an addition that could shake up the rest of the class.
Listed as an athlete, the 6-foot-3, 243-pound Henry plays running back for Yulee (Fla.) High School. Last week, he rushed for a state-record 502 yards on 45 carries. He also scored six touchdowns in the game.
Alabama coaches have said they like Henry as a running back, but the Tide already have commitments from two other ESPN 150 backs, Tyren Jones (Marietta, Ga./Walton) and Altee Tenpenny (North Little Rock, Ark./North Little Rock).
There has been speculation that adding Henry to the class would cause either Jones or Tenpenny to flip schools. Despite Georgia’s best efforts, Jones recently told TideNation that Henry’s decision would have no effect on his own.
“I’m not worried,” Jones said. “I’m just looking forward to the competition, whoever’s coming in. I talked to Coach [Nick] Saban and Coach [Burton] Burns, and they told me that they’re looking forward to me coming.
“They told me that they’re only going to have three guys that are going to be there. They’re offering a couple guys. Basically, the best person is going to win the job.”
Tenpenny, who is still being courted by several schools, namely Arkansas, has been impressed with how Alabama has used its running backs this season. At least four backs have seen the field in each game.
“That’s a plus in my eyes because it lets me know that if I go there and work hard, I can get some carries,” Tenpenny said.
Although Henry wants to play running back, there is also the possibility that he’ll play more of an H-back role, similar to what Jalston Fowler did for the Tide before his injury. It would create even more options for Alabama’s evolving offense.
Regardless of what happens with this class, Alabama should be stacked at the running back position for years to come.
22hDerek Tyson and Tom VanHaaren