TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After a year off, junior running back Keilan Robinson is back with the Alabama football team.
He last played in 2019, when he rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries. The highlight moment of his freshman season came when he busted off a 74-yard scamper to the end zone against New Mexico State.
The Crimson Tide has now completed three of its 15 practices for the spring and Robinson has received glowing reviews.
"He’s doing great," Alabama coach Nick Saban said on Wednesday evening to the media via Zoom. "He’s got great speed. He’s gotten bigger and stronger. He’s really playing fast. He’s playing really good on special teams. He’s a potential kickoff returner for us. He was before when he was a freshman. So that’s certainly a role.
"And he’s made great progress as a running back. He’s got pretty good carryover knowledge and experience wise from the year before. I’m really pleased with what he’s been doing."
Listed at 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, the year off didn't appear to hurt the Washington, D.C. product. His teammate and fellow tailback Brian Robinson Jr., who decided to return for a fifth season, has noticed a difference in his body.
“We’re excited to have him back in the room with us," Brian said on Monday. "We missed him last year. He still has all of his abilities. He’s very fast. He picked up some weight this off-season so he has a new look to him.
"We’re just excited to see what he can bring to our room with him returning this year and we missed him last year."
Both Brian and Keilan, along with junior Trey Sanders returning to full health from a car accident suffered last November, sophomores Jase McClellan, Roydell Williams, Kyle Edwards and incoming freshman Camar Wheaton, make up a loaded running backs room in Tuscaloosa for 2021.
Despite losing Najee Harris from last year, depth certainly won't be an issue.
“Our room is very talented," Brian said. "We have great, great players. It’s all going to come down to the competition, you know you’ve just got to keep competing and pushing each other to get better every day. There’s no limits to what our running back room can stand up to.
“We have pretty good depth in the room. Those type of decisions, that’s decided on by the coaches on who will get the shares or who will get the splits. But as long as we continue to compete day in and day out, I feel like there will be many opportunities for many guys in our room.”
Will all the departures across the offensive line, quarterback and wide receivers positions, running back might be the strength of the Alabama offense this season.
“I feel like our offense is stacked with talent," Brian said. "Obviously we’ll have to have some guys step up in some big major roles this year. I’m excited for our unit and what our unit can grow into this spring. This is the first step for all of us, to come together as a unit. I’m excited to see who can step up in those major roles we may be missing right now.”