It goes without saying, when it comes to finding talent at the running back position, the University of Alabama has never struggled with fulfilling that need. Through the years, names like Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake, Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs, and host of others have been featured on many Sports Center highlight reels. Nick Saban has done a phenomenal job at not only procuring the best at that position, but also developing them into solid contributors at the NFL level. What is equally interesting is that there is never a season that the Crimson Tide have “growing pains” when ushering in a new ball carries. There is a continual passing of the baton to the next man up.
So, here we are again watching the baton being passed in Tuscaloosa due to the departure of Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs to the NFL. Poised to take the lead is highly touted junior Najee Harris. Collectively, he has amassed 1,153 yards rushing and 7 touchdowns. In his two seasons, his yards per carry were, 6.7 and 6.1. He’s shown flashes of greatness at times, especially when seen executing his signature valiant leaps over defenders and elusive spin moves. At the start of his 2018 campaign, he was primed to be the lead back before catching the injury bug. During his recovery, Josh Jacobs would rise to stardom and become one of the focal points of the offense. Now, he’s healthy and he’s emerged again as the alpha back. Some pundits have him mentioned in Heisman talks. However, if you think that he will be the primary superstar, you may be sadly mistaken. Waiting in the wings is Brian Robinson Jr., a former 4-star out of Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa.
Outside of Bama Nation, fans probably aren’t as familiar with Brian Robinson Jr as they are with his counterpart, Najee Harris. Most of his game experience has come during times where Alabama built a sizeable lead. If you look past him playing “garbage time” and focus solely on his intangibles, you can see why many Tide fans are excited. He’s a powerful, hard-nosed runner who would rather hit people in the mouth than avoiding them. Even more so, he can be explosively elusive when called upon. Picture a lethal combo of Bo Scarbrough and Kenyan Drake as a means of comparison. Former Crimson Tide RB and current rookie with the New England Patriots, Damien Harris has been very impressed with Robinson. “He’s an incredibly hard worker. He’s obviously talented or else he wouldn’t be here. He’s a hard worker, just like a lot of young guys on this team. We have a lot of guys come in and step into these roles that we have for younger guys, that they need to come in to play. They have all the ability in the world,” Damien Harris said. Equally, if not more impressed is LB Terrell Lewis, who recalls one of his first meetings with Robinson when Brian was a freshman. “He’s always been a bulldozer-type running back. His freshman year, we had a situation he met me in the hole, and I was like, ‘You weren’t going to juke? And he was like, Nah, I was going to go through you,’” Lewis stated. Lewis is no small man by any means. He’s listed at 6’5, 251lbs. It served as no intimidation. At 6’1, 227lbs, Robinson gave him all he could handle. Like I said before, he can be both explosive and elusive. So, he can’t be tagged primarily with the title of “power-back”. He’s got the ability to kick into that second and third gear on a dime. Terrell Lewis agrees with that sentiment, “He’s definitely been a guy that can be that physical back, but he can also make moves. To me, he’s an every-down back.”
So, keep your eye on potential rising star Brian Robinson Jr. If things develop as expected, he could soar to the same success as Josh Jacobs, perhaps greater. I do realize that is quite a lofty assumption. However, he has drawn praise from some highly credible sources. Plus, he has the greatest coach in the game, NickIf he can be involved in the passing game in addition to providing solid production in the ground game, we could have lethal back on our hands. Najee Harris is a great athlete, deserving of high praise. He’s a projected 1st-2nd round NFL draft selection. However, there is another star in the making. Don’t sleep on Brian Robinson Jr.
I am a 2003 graduate from the University of Alabama with a degree in Exercise Science. While at the Capstone, I served as a student assistant with the head strength and conditioning coach of the Crimson Tide football team. I have competed in both powerlifting and bodybuilding for several years. In addition, I have served athletes and people through the arena of personal training. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I am a passionate fan of Alabama, but do not make other fan bases miserable because of it. College football has my heart first, but I cover all areas of sports.