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Thursday, January 10, 2013
Five for '14: Running backs

By Greg Ostendorf

Leonard Fournette
New Orleans junior running back Leonard Fournette is a perfect blend of size and speed and would fit in Alabama's assembly line of superstar tailbacks.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Is there a better option than the University of Alabama for the nation’s top high school running backs? It sure doesn’t seem like it.

In Monday’s BCS championship win over Notre Dame, Eddie Lacy ripped off 140 yards and a touchdown on the ground, also catching a touchdown pass, while true freshman running back T.J. Yeldon added 108 yards and a score of his own.

What’s scary is the backfield will be deeper and could be more talented next season. The Tide will likely add ESPN 150 running backs Tyren Jones and Altee Tenpenny, who are both committed, and five-star prospect Derrick Henry -- the nation’s all-time leader in yards at the high school level -- just enrolled at UA this week. He’ll take part in spring practice.

However, the future depth at the position hasn’t deterred any 2014 running backs away from the Tide. Alabama has already picked up a commitment from one ESPN Watch List back, and there’s a list of other elite backs who either have an offer or are hoping to get one.

Targets

RB Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga./Cedartown): Chubb burst onto the scene as a junior, rushing for 2,721 yards and 38 touchdowns in just 10 games. The big season led to offers from Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Purdue, Tennessee and most recently, Georgia. However, Alabama has yet to pull the trigger even though the staff has shown serious interest in the 2014 running back. Chubb said he hopes to still receive offers from both Alabama and South Carolina.

RB Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine): Even with all the talent on this list, the top running back in the class of 2014 is likely to be Fournette. He’s 6-foot-1, 232 pounds, and he has a rare combination of size and speed that sets him apart. The Louisiana native has kept quiet when it comes to recruiting, but both Alabama and LSU are high on his list. He visited LSU in November when the Crimson Tide came to town.

RB Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson): Tide fans probably don’t know Perine’s name yet, but they might want to learn it soon. The ESPN Watch List running back starred at the U.S. Army National Combine over the weekend, and the UA coaching staff likes what they’ve seen. Perine, who grew up an Alabama fan, visited Tuscaloosa for the first time in November when the Tide hosted Auburn. He doesn’t have an offer yet.

RB Bo Scarbrough (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Northridge): As the lone Alabama commitment for 2014, Scarbrough will likely be one of the top athletes in the country for his class. However, similar to Henry, there are questions on whether or not he’s a running back at the next level. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, he’s not quite as big as Henry, but the similarities are hard to miss. Scarbrough has also worked out at receiver at various camps and combines.

RB Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford): It almost feels like Thomas is already a part of Alabama’s 2014 class. The in-state native went to nearly every one of the Tide’s home games this season, and he already has an offer from the staff. There’s speculation that Thomas has already given a silent commitment to Alabama but will wait until next month to make it official. He rushed for over 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior.

Other targets: RB Jalen Hurd, RB Sony Michel, RB Johnathan Vickers