Jalston Fowler is a bruiser.
But with Alabama having multiple running backs who are all expected to receive playing time this season, the 6-foot-1, 242-pounder is looking for other ways to get on the field. This is why he's relishing the role of playing two positions, tacking on H-back responsibilities in certain situations.
"I like both [positions] to tell you the truth," Fowler said. "I like opening holes for the running backs…It's complicated sometimes when you gotta do all this motion and all that other type of stuff, it gets crazy."
At running back, Fowler is competing with Eddie Lacy, Dee Hart, T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake. At H-back, it's Harrison Jones, Brent Calloway and walk-on Kelly Johnson. Brad Smelley played the position last year.
But despite the battles, head coach Nick Saban made it clear that Fowler will be in the mix at running back.
"He's going to play and run the ball, too, whether he plays H-back or not," he said.
One of the things Saban always looks for when recruiting a running back is if he can catch. "You can only be a complete player as a running back if you can be an effective receiver as well," he said. Fowler has always been able to catch. In fact he feels his hands are an underrated part of his game.
"I got great hands," Fowler said. "I just liked to play catch all the time when I was young, so that helped me develop my hands."
Fowler said when the team breaks up into positional meetings he always goes with the running backs. He picks up H-back tactics on the go at practice.
"Jalston has to be able to come out of the backfield and catch the football for us," quarterback A.J. McCarron said. "He's going to have to play some different positions he's not used to and to make some blocks. But he's done a good job. He's learned a lot in the spring and fall camp. I'm real confident in him."
Fowler, who is Alabama's largest running back, fits the mold of a tight end or H-back perfectly. He's a big, physical, hard-to-tackle downhill runner. Last year, coming in behind Trent Richardson and Lacy, he rushed for 385 yards on 56 carries and scored four touchdowns.
"Oooh yeah, it's like tackling a moving train," said cornerback Dee Milliner. "You tense up because you know that contact is coming and to be ready for it."
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