No One Concerned About Tailback

It is not very difficult to select the position of greatest wealth for the upcoming Alabama football team. The Crimson Tide is being picked by most prognosticators as the favorite to repeat as national champion for two primary reasons: Mark Ingram is back at tailback and Nick Saban returns as head coach.

Though many think Alabama Coach Nick Saban is a defensive coach, leaving the offense to his assistants, rest assured that Saban is head coach of every position and head coach of every assistant in charge of those positions. Nevertheless, he probably doesn't lie awake at night worrying about running back.

The position at Bama is an embarrassment of riches.

This isn't the NFL, so Alabama can't use a few of them in trades.

Football has changed from the days when great high school players went both ways. A few Bama running backs also played on defense as prep stars, but no one has publicly discussed an experimentation of a tailback moving to an area of greater need, such as safety or linebacker.

That doesn't mean it won't happen, though. Spring practice historically is a time for taking a look at players in different positions. Redshirt freshman Mike Marrow is listed as a running back, but he's also been the object of speculation for a move to linebacker (he's the same size as departing Jack linebacker Eryk Anders). Incoming freshman Jalston Fowler is a running back listed at 6-0, 245. Word on the street is he might be closer to 260. In that case, he might be a candidate for inside linebacker.

Alabama begins spring practice March 12, the day before spring break. Spring training will resume on March 22 and the 15th and final practice, the A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, will be April 17.

There is no question that Mark Ingram is set as the starter at tailback. Ingram won the Heisman Trophy and was the Offensive Most Valuable Player in the National Championship Game win over Texas. He was All-America and the Offensive Player of the Year in the Southeastern Conference.

Ingram set the Alabama record for rushing yards in a season last year. He carried 271 times for 1,658 yards. He had a school record nine games rushing for 100 or more yards. He set the record for yards rushing in Bryant-Denny Stadium with 246 yards on 24 carries. He scored 17 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 32 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns.

You don't tinker with that.

Last year's back-up to Ingram was Trent Richardson. As a true freshman he carried 145 times for 751 yards, 5.2 yards per carry, and eight touchdowns.

Against a Texas defense that was excellent against the run all year, both Ingram and Richardson ran for over 100 yards and two touchdowns each.

When Alabama Running Backs Coach Burton Burns was asked about redshirt freshman tailback Eddie Lacy, the coach said Lacy (6-0, 210) is something of a combination of Ingram (5-10, 212) and Richardson (5-11, 220).

Think about that.

Does G–as in Grant, Goode and Griffin–stand for injury?

Terry Grant, who has battled injury since leading Bama in rushing in 2007 with 180 carries for 891 yards. He missed the last six games of last season with an abdominal injury. Demetrius Goode has also battled injury, a serious knee injury in 2007, and worked for a bit a cornerback. He saw very limited action at tailback last year, but ended up the season a regular on special teams. Jeramie Griffin sat out 2007, played sparingly in 2008, and tore his ACL prior to the start of last season. He is expected to participate in the spring.

That's a lot of talent at tailback. But as has been seen over the years, sometimes you need a lot of players at the position.

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