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Friday, June 28, 2013
Crimson Countdown: Jalston Fowler

By Alex Scarborough

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. 45 Jalston Fowler
Redshirt junior running back

Expectations for 2013: It's hard to know just what to expect of Fowler, who missed most of last season recovering from a major knee injury and was not available to participate fully in spring practice. All indications are that he'll be ready to go by fall camp, but his absence from A-Day was nonetheless notable. If healthy, Fowler provides an added dimension to the Alabama backfield as the biggest back on the roster at a whopping 250 pounds. His athleticism, though, is what makes him a dangerous weapon for offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.

Best-case scenario: Nussmeier started using Fowler as an H-back last season before a knee injury forced him off the field, but expect that experiment to continue in 2013. While Fowler won't relinquish his duties as a tailback, especially in short-yardage situations, it's his potential in a utility role like H-back that offers him the ability to make the most impact. Head coach Nick Saban said Fowler could be a Jacob Hester-type of back, "because he's 250 pounds, can block, is a really good receiver, is fast, has running skills and running ability, but he's also playing running back."

Worst-case scenario: The looming question for Fowler is obviously his health, but the depth chart is also a concern for the junior from south Alabama. The running back corps isn't getting any easier to navigate with blue-chip prospect Derrick Henry already on campus and three more top tailbacks set to arrive soon. That's not to mention rising sophomore Kenyan Drake, who is set to become the No. 2 tailback behind T.J. Yeldon, and scatback Dee Hart, who could be a third-down option. And at H-back, the competition doesn't get any easier. Harrison Jones will likely start there and true freshman O.J. Howard will demand reps at the position as well.

Future impact: Fowler's role will continue to develop over the next two seasons thanks to the medical redshirt he received for missing most of 2012 recovering from surgery. How and where he plays moving forward could be a good indicator of what the staff will do with similarly versatile athletes like Henry in the coming years.