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Why Justice Haynes could revolutionize Alabama run game

PeterWarrenPhoto2by:Peter Warren05/17/23

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When Justice Haynes committed to Alabama last summer, it was a big deal. The elite recruit was the son of a former Georgia running back and a top target for the Bulldogs.

It was a major win for the Crimson Tide at the time. It is still early, but it is looking like one of the biggest’s of the entire cycle. With Jahmyr Gibbs off the NFL, Alabama is looking for a new bellcow at the positon and BamaInsider’s Clint Lamb believes Haynes should be the guy.

“From everything that we know, Alabama wants to build its offensive identity through two things: a big, physical offensive line and a dominant run game,” Lamb said. “That combination will not only open up a ton of possibilities for the outcome of passing attack, but it will also open up a ton of opportunities for the defense as well. Now this doesn’t mean the Alabama wants to move away from the playmaking ability that Jahmyr Gibbs brought to the table. They just want to be able to move the football on the ground more consistently and effectively than it did last season. In other words, that bully style of football that has set the tone for the Alabama program since Nick Saban’s arrival back in 2007.”

Speaking on On3 Roundtable, Lamb explained the characteristics that give Haynes the potnetial to be such a key component for the Crimson Tide.

It is not just his standout running ability. Haynes has the potential to be a three-down running back who can run, catch and block. Very few players are ready to do all three as a freshman — and a true freshman at that — but Haynes may be different.

“Some of the guys in the room currently have the ability to bring more consistency to the position on a snap-in, snap-out basis, will be able to run the football more effectively on a snap-in, snap-out basis,” Lamb said. “The perfect representation of that, at least in my mind, is true freshman Justice Haynes. When you actually watch him, whether it be from a production standpoint — I’m mean he rushed for almost 7500 yards and 90-plus touchdowns on the ground in high school so very productive player at least on the ground. But I love that he plays with a low center of gravity. He’s listed at 5’11 but I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he was closer to 5’10. But I think he’s got a great mix of you know that frame and build that you look for but also his pad level. It kind of allows him to finish with authority.”

The Crimson Tide running back room has plenty of depth with Roydell WilliamsJase McClellan and Jam Miller all on the roster. But Lamb said Haynes should be able to separate himself.

“If you’re looking to get the best combination of rushing ability, talent receiving ability out of the backfield, the correct mentality — which we don’t talk about enough — Justice Haynes needs to be Alabama’s number one running back,” Lamb said. “It might not necessarily be from the perspective of being the starter. Jase McClellan might be the guy who runs out there with the first team offense all season. But when we look back at the end of 2023, Justice Haynes needs to be the guy who we say this guy got the biggest workload. He got the most touches, whether that be carries, whether that be receptions,, whether that be snaps played, targets, whatever it means that you want to judge who the number one running back was outside of who got the most store, which I think is very minuscule as far as the importance. But I think that Justice Haynes needs to be that guy for Alabama.”

But as Lamb continues on to explain, it is not just about having a really good running back . It is about setting the standard when you are at Alabama.

The Crimson Tide want to be the best. He believes Haynes can get them there quickest.

“You’re trying to get back to being the standard. I think Jase McClellan is a really good running back. Is he the standard in college football? No. Is Roydell Williams the standard? Is Jam Miller the standard? No. I think Justice Haynes can be — I certainly do,” Lamb said. “When you’re trying to work your way back to the top, the players like justice Haynes are going to be the ones that get you there. So I think that that’s what Alabama needs to do. It might not be in starting status but we look back at the end of 2023, I think we need to be saying it’s a really good thing that Alabama got justice Haynes, the most touches of anybody in this running back room.”