Fowler Physical Man At Tailback
Chance Warmack is a starting left guard for Alabama's football team. Jalston Fowler is the Crimson Tide's number one tailback this spring. Although Bama Coach Nick Saban said that Fowler has the speed to get to the edge, "The Beast" is best known as a man who runs between the tackles. That means in a spot where Warmack and company are expected to clear the way.
Warmack said, "He's such an incredible back in terms of just hitting the hole. He's really physical. I like that about him.
"He's going to hit the hole regardless if there's a defender or his own teammate."
"You've got to get out of the way," Warmack said. "He'll run you over.
"But I really love him, man. He's a good back and he's going to do special things. He's already done good things and he'll continue to do great things.
"He's going to try to score every time he gets the ball. I respect that about him. He's a physical player. He runs the ball hard all the time, like he has a purpose, and I really respect that."
Fowler, an upcoming junior from Vigor High School in Prichard, is just doing what he's told by Assistant Coach Burton Burns. "When I see it open up, I just press it and burst through," Fowler said.
Fowler said it's "great" to run behind Bama's veteran offensive line. "Those guys know what they're doing," he said. "They get movement up front. It's just great. I love running behind those guys."
And he particularly likes to run behind the motivated Warmack.
"Chance cleans everything out," Fowler said. "He's a big guy."
Fowler admits that sometimes Warmack doesn't clean everything out fast enough. "I run up his back," Fowler said. "He falls and goes ‘Come on, man!' I just laugh."
Alabama is nearing the end of spring practice. A-Day on Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium will be the 15th and final work day. The game, free to the public, will begin at 2 p.m. CDT and will be telecast by CSS.
Fowler said he has enjoyed spring practice. "It's been hard work," he said. "It's been tough. But we have to push through it."
Spring practice has not included Eddie Lacy, the heir apparent to Trent Richardson at tailback, which has meant more work for Fowler and other tailbacks, T.J. Yeldon and Dee Hart.
Fowler said, "I really don't have speed but if I can get around the corner I'm going to get around there. If I can make something happen outside then I'm going to try my best to make it happen."
"He does have good speed for his size, and he can run the ball on the edge on certain types of plays," Saban said. "He is a good receiver, he's a good blocker. He has demonstrated that he runs the ball well with his pads pointed north and south. That doesn't mean he doesn't have some ability to cut and make people miss. He does. He's probably got better speed than people think."
The enduring memories most Alabama fans (and followers of a couple of other schools) have of Fowler are two notable runs:
The first came against Ole Miss in Oxford in the fourth quarter. Although it was overshadowed by an earlier Trent Richardson run, the famous "shake and bake" 76-yard touchdown run, Fowler had his longest career run in the fourth quarter, a 69-yard run to wrap up the 52-7 win.
"I felt myself pulling away," Fowler said. "When I get myself going, I don't feel like anyone can catch me from behind unless we have a really long distance to go."
The second came in Alabama's final regular season game. Third teamers playing against Auburn got the final score of that 42-14 rout with Fowler bursting off tackle and 15 yards into the end zone. That came in relief of Richardson, who had an electrifying 57-yard run to put the ball inside the Auburn 20.
Fowler recognized that those runs came in the fourth quarter against tired defenses. "I know they were pretty exhausted," he said. "I know you get tired of tackling Trent and Eddie. Those guys are great. They have speed. They're going to bruise you up. I come in and I'm going to bruise you up a lot more."
On Saturday, Fowler will be going against what he considers to be "a great defense." But he's got high expectations.
The tradition of A-Day is that members of the winning team are rewarded with a steak dinner on training table while the losing team eats beans.
"I've had beans ever since I've been here," he said. "I'd like a steak. Well done."
It won't surprise Chance Warmack. "When he first got here, I was like, ‘This guy is going to be incredible,'" Warmack said. "He's proven it to me ten-fold. He's going to be a heck of a player."
Barrett Jones, playing alongside Warmack at center, said, "I think Jalston really fits in well in our offense because he's such a downhill runner. He's so physical. I've never really seen a back as physical as him. The linebackers will never say this but if I was one of them, I would not want to thud him up in practice. He's such a big load. I've really been pleased with the way he's stepped in and become the number one guy for us this spring. Just really become a leader, too. He sets a good example, he works hard every day. You can always count on him to do his job."
Fowler puts it into simple terms.
"You have to be physical," he said. "Tough. You can't be scared. You can't shy away from contact."
By now, almost everyone has heard that Fowler's nickname is "Nudie."
Fowler tells a GP rated story.
"When I was a baby, my dad said he used to walk around and say, ‘This my Nudie baby. Can't nobody have him. This my Nudie baby.' He'd say that all the time.
"Everybody asks me about that and I tell them the same story."
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