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Alabama’s Former No. 1 RB Ready to Take Over For Najee Harris
AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

Alabama football fans will have to get used to a world without running back Najee Harris, who is all but set to become a first-round NFL Draft pick in 2021. The loss of the senior All-American means someone else will be rushing for touchdowns in Tuscaloosa next season.

That could very well be Trey Sanders. Sanders came to the SEC as the No. 1 high school running back in the 2019 class. He was rated higher than Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon, Mark Ingram and Eddie Lacy were coming out of high school. The now-redshirt sophomore has sustained numerous injuries, however. A broken left foot made him miss the entire 2019 season. In November 2020, he was in a car accident and needed hip surgery. He’s played in just four games.

Months after the car accident, Trey Sanders is working toward getting healthy and hoping to secure the starting running back job in the fall.

Trey Sanders Injury

Trey Sanders is already running on an anti-gravity treadmill five months after surgery, per a video shared by University of Alabama director of football rehabilitation Jeremy Gsell on Twitter. That’s a good sign for the running back’s rehab process.

Sanders had just rushed for a career-high 82 yards on 12 carries against Mississippi State when he was T-boned while sitting in a passenger seat of a car. He was in the car with his older brother, according to WMBB News 13, and was even life-flighted to Bay Medical Center in Panama City, Florida.

RELATED: 4-Star DB, Cousin of Former NFL MVP, Signs With Alabama

“He got T-boned in his car. He wasn’t driving, but they were just pulling out to go across an intersection and he got hit on his side,” Saban said on his radio show. “We’re thankful. He’s got some very serious injuries, but everything has worked out very well. I think he’ll make a full recovery, but this is probably gonna be a several month type thing. He had a hip injury, but not the same kind that Tua had, so there shouldn’t be any question about his recovery,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban told reporters.

“We feel very fortunate.”

Sanders finished the season having played in four games, rushing for 134 yards on 30 attempts.

Trey Sanders Eyes 2021 Season

As a freshman, Trey Sanders figured to be one of the Alabama Crimson Tide’s most exciting young weapons on offense. After starring at Florida’s IMG Academy, the 6-foot, 214-pounder was a unanimous five-star tailback who held offers from nearly every major program in the country. He was selected to play in the All-American Bowl his senior year.

The top-ranked high school running back in America was expected to get significant playing time in a loaded backfield alongside starter Najee Harris, Brian Robinson Jr., Keilan Robinson and redshirt freshman Jerome Ford. They all worked to replace 1,967 yards of total offense lost from the NFL departures of Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs.

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Head coach Nick Saban will (as all veteran coaches do) lead everyone to believe the “next man up” mentality. Sure, Alabama lost a ton of offensive talent from the roster like quarterback Mac Jones, wide receiver Devonta Smith and running back Najee Harris.

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But the Crimson Tide should have no problem reloading and getting back to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Trey Sanders needs to get fully healthy, and he will battle with other running backs like Jase McClellan, Roydell Williams, Keilan Robinson, Kyle Edwards and freshman Camar Wheaton once he is.

Assuming he’s healthy by the Fall, he could be Najee Harris’ replacement.

MORE: Alabama Plucks Michigan’s No. 1 Recruit for This Season

Patrick has spent parts of the last four years covering University of Florida athletics and spent two seasons with Major League Baseball. He's a baseball junkie who spends his days defending Derek Jeter and the Miami Marlins. A recent Gator grad, Patrick currently resides in Gainesville, Florida.
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