Not Much Mystery At Running Back

Burton Burns has to feel pretty good as Alabama prepares for the start of spring football practice on Friday. Burns is the coach of Alabama's running backs, and his cup over-floweth.

Spring football practice includes a lot of things, but the bottom line is that Alabama Coach Nick Saban expects every player to do the things that will make him a better player, thus making the team better. Certainly there is competition for jobs, but those decisions won't be made for many months, following fall camp.

Wink! Wink!

Okay, it's possible that Mark Ingram won't have the starting job at running back when Alabama opens the season Sept. 4 against San Jose State, but everyone from Big Al to President Obama expects the Heisman Trophy winner to hold on as No. 1 tailback for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama will practice Friday, then take spring break with the rest of those at The University, resuming March 22. The 15th and final practice is the A-Day Game at 2 p.m. on April 17 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. There is no charge for admission and the event will be nationally telecast by ESPN.

This look at running backs is part of our continuing series looking at Crimson Tide positions prior to the start of spring practice.

Ingram, a 5-10, 212-pound upcoming junior, was the Most Valuable Player in the national championship game victory over Texas as he led Bama to its 13th national championship last season. He rushed for an Alabama single-season record of 1,658 yards with 20 touchdowns, including two in the national championship game. He had a Tide record nine games with at least 100 yards rushing. He was unanimous All-America and Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

While there may not be much anticipation as to which Tider wins the starting tailback job this year, there was a question prior to last season as to whether it would be Ingram or incoming freshman Trent Richardson replacing Glen Coffee, who had moved on to the NFL after his junior year.

Richardson didn't win the starting job, but he made it a strong position with his back-up play. The 5-11, 220-pounder was honorable mention Freshman All-America and All-SEC Freshman team as he had 145 rushes for 751 yards and eight touchdowns. He joined Ingram in rushing for over 100 yards and scoring two touchdowns in the win over Texas for the national championship.

Alabama lost Roy Upchurch from the running back corps, but returns back-ups senior Terry Grant (5-10, 190), who had 40 rushes for 166 yards and three touchdowns, and junior Demetrius Goode (5-9, 191), who had 16 carries for 108 yards.

Crimson Tide fans are understandably anxious to see redshirt freshman Eddie Lacy (6-0, 210) after Coach Burns described him as "a combination of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson." Lacy was late arriving last year and was held out.

A couple of other guys who have been on campus and listed as fullbacks or running backs are junior Jeramie Griffin (6-2, 224), who will be coming back this season after suffering an injury prior to the start of the 2009 campaign, and redshirt freshman Mike Marrow (6-2, 240), a player who has the potential to play other positions, including linebacker.

Alabama has one new player this spring, and he is an intriguing possibility. Jalston Fowler didn't play high school football last fall because (by a few days) he was too old for prep competition. He finished his graduation requirements in December and entered The University in time to participate in the off-season program and spring drills. Even without playing in the fall, Fowler was a four-star prospect. The 6-0 Fowler is listed officially at 6-0, 245, but word around the football offices is that he weighs in at about 260 with almost no body fat.

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