For the past two football seasons when Tyren Jones has gone out onto the Alabama practice field, he has had to wait his turn in drills, behind T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake and sometimes Altee Tenpenny. And that wait carried over to games.
Even though Alabama Coach Nick Saban has always favored using several tailbacks in his offense, Jones, a 5-9, 212-pound tailback from Walton High in Marietta, Ga., had to be patient.
And his patience was tried more than once.
“It was just getting an opportunity,” Jones said. “My opportunity came and I was doing pretty well. But then I had an injury. I had surgery and bounced right back from that. Then I was reinjured, but I was able to play through it.”
Jones said he “tore something in a finger and my (left) hand didn’t function. I was coming back, and then tore it again.” He was scheduled to have another surgery following the 2014 season.
Jones didn’t play in the Tide opener in 2014, but made his Bama debut in the second game of the year. He played in three games, suffering the injury against Florida. He said the issue had been being able to hold onto the ball when running and catching the ball as a receiver. “I knid of got used to it,” he said.
He’s not even sure when the reinjury occurred. “It popped out, and I didn’t notice it,” he said. “But I’ve been pretty much able to function.”
Although he saw only limited action as a tailback, rushing 36 times for 224 yards in games against Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss, Florida, Texas A&M, and Western Carolina, he averaged a fine 6.2 yards per carry and scored two rushing touchdowns.
Jones said he was able to enjoy life as an Alabama tailback even though his running opportunities were limited. “T.J. (Yeldon) has done a good job for our team and everyone who has come in has contributed. We’re a family. If T.J. scores a touchdown, everyone is headed down the sideline to celebrate.
“We’re all doing the same job. We have different talents and we push each other in practice. I think it’s one of the best things about Alabama football.”
Although he may have been a small part of the overall Alabama offense, he was a part of Bama setting a program record with 6,783 total offense yards. Jones said he didn’t pay any attention to statistics during the season, and only a little after the season. “We’re mainly about going ahed, doing our best.”
That echoes of the process of his head coach, Nick Saban.
Saban famously works primarily with the defense during Bama practices, but Jones said Saban is not unaware of the offense at work. “Coach Saban is always just a look away,” Jones said. “He is so into practice. He comes over when he needs to, yelling at the offense to make sure we get it right. And then he goes back to coaching defense. He has a pretty good eye. They say he has eyes in the back of his head.”