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Spring Sneak Peek: Running back

BamaOnLine.com takes a look ahead at the running back position.

Yeldon wasted no time making his presence felt, becoming the first UA true freshman to rush for 100 yards in his first game.

Starter lost: 42 Eddie Lacy.

In the mix: 4 T.J. Yeldon (So.); 45 Jalston Fowler (Jr.); 17 Kenyon Drake (So.); 1 Dee Hart (So.).

January enrollee: Derrick Henry.

See ya in the summer: Tyren Jones; Alvin Kamara; Altee Tenpenny.

Did you know? As far as the Nick Saban era is concerned, Lacy's 204 carries in 2012 were the third fewest by a running back with nine or more starts in a season. Mark Ingram had 158 totes in 11 starts in 2010, while Terry Grant carried 180 times while making nine starts in 2007 ... Lacy's yards per carry average of 6.5 in 2012 marked the highest of any UA starter since Saban took over ... Yeldon's 175 carries a season ago were the most by a reserve running back in the Saban era ... In garnering playing time in 2012, Yeldon and Drake became the fourth and fifth true freshmen to see time at running back in the Saban era, joining Mark Ingram (2008), Trent Richardson (2009) and Jalston Fowler (2010) ... Reception totals for the running back position the past four seasons: 36 in 2012, 42 in 2011, 47 in 2010 and 63 in 2009 ... In going down with a season-ending knee injury in the season's second week, Fowler qualified for a medical redshirt ... In declaring early for the NFL Draft, Lacy became the third straight UA back to do so.

The big question: After a debut season that saw him rush for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns, there is no questioning Yeldon's ability to pick up the extra duties that come along with starting. And while no one doubts the array of talent stacked up behind Yeldon, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the rotation fills out.

Time to make a move: Drake will likely share spring scrimmage carries with Henry, who set a new national high school career rushing mark over the course of a highly-decorated prep career at Yulee (Fla.) High School. Drake, who averaged 6.7 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns on limited touches a season, brings open-field ability and big-play burst to the table.

Best of the bunch: Yeldon did something Ingram and Richardson didn't: rush for 1,000 yards during his first fall on campus.

Biggest upside: Yeldon is the undisputed choice as the top guy, so as far as other backs who will take part in spring work go, we'll go with Henry. If you wagered on the big man getting just a cup of coffee at running back before moving to another position, here's hoping you did so in moderation.

Don't be shocked if: Seems like we say it every year, but will anyone be surprised if one of these guys gets a look at another position when spring drills get underway on March 16? The numbers at this spot tell us we shouldn't be.

Lest we forget: Under Saban, the Crimson Tide has compiled a 51-4 record in seasons (2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012) in which its starting back carried the ball 200 times or more. Meanwhile, UA has posted a 17-9 mark in seasons (2007 and 2010) in which its top runner carried fewer than 200 times. As good as the passing game will be in 2013, Yeldon will still get plenty of work.

Also see:
Spring Sneak Peek: Defensive line
Spring Sneak Peek: Quarterback

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