Crimson Tide Top 5: Running Backs

Throughout the month of June, Bama Central writers will pick the best five players in each Alabama sport, and for each position group in football
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The running back position has defined Alabama football for nearly 100 years. The position has been a key component for a program that has enjoyed a lavish amount of success in its history.

Some of the greatest to ever play the game did so at Alabama – Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon, Trent Richardson, Damien Harris, Ken Darby and Glen Coffee. And that’s just players from the past 15 years.

What about these guys? Tony Nathan, Wilbur Jackson, Johnny Mack Brown, Major Ogilvie, Dixie Howell, Johnny Musso, Siran Stacy, Bobby Marlow, Sherman Williams...you get the idea.

Any one of those players listed deserve recognition for their outstanding accomplishments and what they did for the history of Alabama football.

But here are five players who are the best of the best, and did more than any other back in Crimson Tide history.

5. Mark Ingram

Ingram put up decent numbers his freshman and junior season, but it was as a sophomore that he made the rest of the college football world take notice. It’s that 2009 Heisman Trophy season that puts Ingram at fifth on the list.

He led Alabama to a national championship behind 1,658 yards with 32 touchdowns in 2009, including a performance for the ages against South Carolina (24 carries, 246 yards, 1 TD).

For his career, Ingram totaled 3,261 yards on 572 carries with a then program-best 42 touchdowns. He was a nice receiving option for QBs, catching 60 passes for 670 yards and four touchdowns. He eclipsed 100 yards in a game 12 times.

4. Bobby Humphrey

Humphrey (1985-88) became, at the time, the all-time leading rusher at Alabama with 3,420 yards, a mark that stood for 11 years.

Had it not been for a broken foot in the second game that ended his senior season, Humphrey’s career yards could have surpassed 4,000, and we’d be talking about him at No. 1 on this list.

Humphrey was fast and ran with power, but was also gifted with the ability to cut and spin out of trouble. He was a weapon out of the backfield, too, catching 60 passes for 523 yards and seven TDs.

Now third on the all-time Alabama career-yards list, Humphrey had 33 career rushing touchdowns, 14 games with over 100 yards and four games with more than 200 yards.

3. Najee Harris

Had he not come back for his senior season, Harris would not have cracked the top five on the list. But he did, and what a decision that turned out to be.

Harris ran wild for 1,466 yards in 2020 with 26 touchdowns and finished fifth in the Heisman voting. That season helped him take over the top spot in Alabama history for career rushing yards (3,843), touchdowns (46) and first in total touchdowns (57).

Harris was the second-best receiving running back of the top five, hauling in 80 receptions for 781 yards and 11 touchdowns. His 4,624 all-purpose yards rank second all-time at UA (Humphrey, 4,958). He topped 100 or more yards 12 times.

Harris, who topped 100 yards in a game 13 times, will be remembered for several big runs. But it’s his jumps that stood out most. His leaps over defenders, particularly against South Carolina (2019), Florida and Notre Dame (2020) will forever live on in Alabama highlight reels.

2. Shaun Alexander

You knew this guy had a bright future after he toasted LSU for 291 yards and four touchdowns his freshman season (1996). It's a single-game record that still stands.

By the time he finished his Alabama career in 1999, Alexander was the all-time leading rusher with 3,565 yards and the all-time leader in rushing TDs with 41. He’s now the third all-time leading rusher.

Speed, power, and agility - Alexander had all of that. He had a good pair of hands, too. Alexander had 798 receiving yards with eight career touchdowns.

Some of his top highlights include a five-touchdown performance in 1998 against BYU, 15 games with 100-plus yards and three games of 200-plus yards.

1. Derrick Henry

Henry earned hero status after putting up incredible numbers in high school, but he left Alabama as a legend. He is Alabama’s second all-time leading rusher with 3,591 yards and tied for second with 41 career rushing touchdowns.

In 2015, Alabama turned to Henry to lead the way. He was given the ball a school-record 395 times, which led to a couple more single-season records - rushing yards (2,219) and touchdowns (28).

Henry capped off the 2015 season with a Heisman Trophy and a national title. In the championship game against Clemson, Henry rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns, including one for 50 yards.

He punctuated his Heisman season with a 271-yard effort in a win against Auburn. Henry had four 200-plus yard games in his career. His 16 games of 100 or more yards is another school record.

Crimson Tide Top 5: Introduction

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Tight Ends

Women's Basketball

Specialists

Women's Golf

Offensive Line

Men's Golf

Quarterbacks

Baseball

Defensive Linemen

Women's Tennis

Men's Swimming

Wide Receivers

Women's Swimming

Nick Saban Assistant Coaches