MOBILE, Ala. — Jalston Fowler has been to the Senior Bowl before.
As a young child, he was among a Boys & Girls Club group who took bus trips to watch the college prospects perform for NFL scouts.
He didn’t remember who he saw. It was too long ago.
Fowler never thought he would one day be in uniform for this game in his hometown.
“It’s great, man,” he said. “I love being home, getting to play in front of the home crowd.
“The Boys & Girls Club used to always take us down to the Senior Bowl, out of Orange Grove. It’s just a great feeling to be playing here, in front of everybody, my family finally gets to see me play.”
The 6-foot-1, 248-pound Alabama fullback, who played his high school football at Mobile Vigor, is ranked by prominent draft experts as one of the best at his position for the upcoming NFL draft. Where he might land depends upon how much a professional team values the position, which is often overlooked in today’s pass-happy offenses.
Fowler is showing he can do more than block this week. He’s also been used as a running back, his high school position, and has displayed an impressive burst in rushes as well as running after catching the football.
In Wednesday’s South practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Fowler consistently sped away from defenders in one-on-one passing drills, showing a knack to get open out of cuts and then maintain his speed after the catch.
After Tuesday’s practice, Crimson Tide players had an on-field reunion with coach Nick Saban. Fowler, quarterback Blake Sims, offensive guard Shaq Mason and offensive tackle Austin Shepherd posed for a group picture before interviews.
While Fowler didn’t get to run much at Alabama, he did average 5.8 yards on his 12 carries as a senior. He also showed his versatility in the pass game with 11 receptions for 129 yards (11.7 yards per catch) and two touchdowns.
Aside from showing his all-around game, the 24-year-old Fowler is looking to show NFL scouts he plays the kind of physical brand of football pro teams require.
“I’m big, physical, I like to come down and hit people,” he said. “I tell them who I am and they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, I know who you are. Great player, I’ve seen a lot of film of you. You did great this year.’”
Fowler had to overcome personal tragedy during high school when his older brother, Joe, was killed by an accidental gunshot.
Because he had earlier repeated the seventh grade, he was ineligible to play football his senior year of high school. He blamed himself for academic troubles at an early age, but was an excellent student by his senior year.
Alabama wanted him after he rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a junior on the 5A state championship team. He is credited for helping open holes for Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon during his college career.
“I hope they just see the physicality,” Fowler said, when asked what he wants scouts to see from him. “I just like to come down and hit people.
“And if they give me a chance, I want them to see me run the ball, too.”
His first practice Tuesday reminded him of back in the day.
“I heard a couple of kids yelling my name when I first ran out here,” he said, smiling.Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.