TUSCALOOSA — One of the least surprising nuggets from the depth chart Alabama released this week was the running back order. Junior T.J. Yeldon is the No. 1 guy, backed up by sophomore Derrick Henry and junior Kenyan Drake. The trio return as the Crimson Tide’s top three rushers from a season ago, as each possesses a different set of skills.
Saban said all three have “done a really, really good job” and have all had “really good camps.”
“Derrick Henry and T.J. probably are more of the sort of inside, downhill, do-it-all kind of runners,” Saban said. “Kenyan Drake, because of his great speed, can do those things but is also a really good receiver as well as a regular runner. I think all three of those guys are guys we definitely want involved in the game that have playmaking ability. We’re very confident that all three of them can make a significant contribution to our team in some kind of way this year.”
Last season, Yeldon led the team with 1,235 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. He became the first Alabama player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in his first two seasons. Drake added 694 yards and eight scores, while Henry racked up 382 yards and three touchdowns as a true freshman.
COMPETITION AT LEFT TACKLE: While 14 freshmen were included on Alabama’s depth chart, punter JK Scott and left tackle Cam Robinson are the only two listed in starting roles. Saban said he couldn’t recall a time where he opened the season with a true freshman at left tackle.
Even though Robinson has held the left tackle spot since early in spring practice, don’t take that to mean there isn’t competition at the position. Junior college transfer Dominick Jackson is listed as the backup behind Robinson.
“Dominick Jackson is also playing that position,” Saban said. “We think he can be a really good player. He missed two weeks with a sprained ankle, which sort of limited the competition. Now he’s back in practice and Leon’s back in practice.”
Jackson has worked everyone position on the line. He’s considered a powerful run blocker, but lacks experience in pass protection.
“That helps us depth-wise and as to who might be the starters at those positions somewhere down the road,” Saban said. “I know all those guys want to play but it's a long season. At least we can evaluate the younger players are doing with less experience and have somebody who can maybe get in there and play in their place that can maybe be an effective player.”
W. VIRGINIA QB KISSES AND TELLS: If West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett was looking for a way to give Alabama some funny bulletin board material, he may have done so when he revealed an intimate detail about he and Saban’s daughter, Kristen Saban.
Speaking with reporters Tuesday about how well he knows Saban, Trickett playfully mentioned that Kristen was the first girl he ever kissed. Trickett’s father, Florida State assistant coach Rick Trickett, was assistant head coach under Saban at LSU in 2000.
“His daughter was my first kiss back in the day,” Clint Trickett told reporters, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “So yeah. I don't know if I should have said that. She’s actually engaged now. Coach Nick is one of the greatest there is. My brother worked for him. He was a GA for him when he first got to Alabama and we’ve known him for years. Family friends and just one of the best coaches out there.”
“For clarification, we were like six years old! Just so everyone knows that,” he added.
Sports Writer Marq Burnett: On Twitter @Marq_Burnett.