One of the more intriguing prospects in this class to project for the next level, Derrick Henry (Yulee, Fla.), evaluated as an athlete, has picked a school in Alabama that will best enhance his ability to play running back, the position of his choice. He's one of the most impressive and talented athletes from a size-to-speed ratio in the country and his production has been off the charts, yet we do feel like he lacks some natural skill-set that will impede his ability to tote the rock at the next level with the success he is achieving now.
This is a back with good downhill strength but also deceptive quickness and feet through the hole to make the first tackler miss and bounce outside when needed. He is straight-line fast as well, but it’s his tendency to run upright that hinders balance, sharp cutbacks and power, combined with some tension through hips cutting laterally that raise question marks about his ability to be an elite running back in college.
We feel his situation is similar to James Wilder Jr. out of high school, who was also adamant about playing running back with similar measurables. Wilder has looked impressive at times for FSU, particularly when he can square up and get north as he did vs. Clemson, but has struggled when trying to make sudden cuts through tight creases and has yet to show the dominant ability at RB he showcased at Plant High School (Tampa, Fla.).
For Henry, Alabama is a pro-style, downhill running offense that is suited for his load-back style and should provide him with the most optimal scheme to remain at the running back position and produce. The Tide are loaded at running back though with underclassmen T.J. Yeldon and Dee Hart already moving the chains in Tuscaloosa and talented 2013 backs Altee Tenpenny (North Little Rock, Ark.) and Tyren Jones (Marietta, Ga./Walton) already committed in this class.
Saban has shown he will rotate backs and go with more of a platoon attack to keep legs fresh and Henry could eventually be that thunder/power back for the Tide. However, you have to think that if the transition to running back is not a smooth one in college, Henry's talents won't be wasted under Saban and he will get a look at linebacker, where we see all the tools to develop as a full-time player at the position.