Who are the early top running back targets for the Crimson Tide?
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Alabama Crimson Tide 2023 Big Board: Running back

Big Board: Quarterback

The breakdown of Alabama's top targets by position continues with a closer look at the Tide's early board at running back. Jamarion Miller is considered the only running back signed by Alabama in the 2022 class with Emmanuel Henderson labeled as an athlete. Alabama also brought in Georgia Tech transfer Jahmyr Gibbs who could leave after a successful season in Tuscaloosa.

More running backs will emerge in the coming weeks and months are players are evaluated by the Crimson Tide. There are several who Alabama hope to see in-person throughout the spring and summer. Below is a look at the early top targets which includes several 'bigger-bodied' backs.

The top candidates

There was a lot of buzz surrounding Young after his trip to Tuscaloosa in June. The kind of buzz generated when a sensational prospect is seen for the first time on Alabama’s campus. It's been that way for plenty of top recruits including star running backs such as Derrick Henry, Najee Harris and Trent Richardson.

Young is still a junior in high school, but he is a top priority just like several former top Alabama running backs who have shined in Tuscaloosa and in the NFL. He rushed for 1,755 yards and 19 touchdowns in only 10 games during his junior season. He also averaged 9.0 yards per carry.

The top three schools have been the same for several months: Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State. He also has interest in other programs including Florida, Miami, Penn State and USC. Young will take his time during his recruitment with spring visits and official visits before making a decision.

He has developed a strong relationship with Alabama running backs coach Robert Gillespie who will lead the charge in recruiting for the Crimson Tide. Alabama will remain strongly in the mix for the highly-talented prospect until he makes a decision.

"The coaches and the environment," he said when asked what stands out about Alabama after his visit to Tuscaloosa last summer. "I talked to Brian Robinson. He talked about how the program is gonna fit me. He said I am going to be the next big-time back if I decide to go there."

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Baxter did not receive an offer from Alabama until September. He did not visit or camp in Tuscaloosa last summer. He was evaluated during the early stages of his junior season, and Alabama quickly extended an offer.

He went on to rush for 1,718 yards and 26 touchdowns and was named the Orlando Touchdown Club Offensive Player of the Year. Baxter took his first trip to Tuscaloosa in November and described the visit as "amazing." He has remained in close contact with the Tide ever since.

Baxter recently released a top seven of Alabama, Arkansas, UCF, Florida State, Ohio State, USC and Texas. Alabama freshman wide receiver, Christian Leary, is one of Baxter's former teammates.

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Need to return to T-Town

Owens raved about his visit to Tuscaloosa last summer after participating in the Nick Saban Football Camp. He decommitted from Texas shortly after his trip Alabama, but also made several other stops throughout June which included trips to Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU and Texas A&M.

"It was great," Owens said of the visit with Alabama. "I love the culture. Everything stood out. The place is just different. They had a 360-degree hype that was fire. Plus, anything you need is right there for you.

"I loved the work with Coach Gillespie. He was pushing and teaching me some things to improve my game on the field. The culture like this is what my father has been preparing me for; hard work and doing every rep 100-percent."

He was named the MaxPreps National Junior of the Year after rushing for 2,989 yards with 48 touchdowns. He averaged 12.1 yards per carry. Alabama assistant coach/area recruiter Drew Svoboda attended one of his games during the season. He rushed for more than 300 yards in that game.

Alabama needs him to return to Tuscaloosa. He plans to do sometime this spring, and a possible chance for the Tide to reel in a running back from Texas for the fourth straight year (Jase McClellan, Camar Wheaton, Jamaion Miller).

"It's the Bama Factor," he said after the trip to Tuscaloosa. "What's not to like about it? The whole staff is great. The facilities are state-of-the-art. The people in the community were friendly. It was a great vibe and experience."

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It might be a while before Fletcher reaches a decision since he is taking a slow approach to the recruiting process. He has high interest in Alabama, but has not visited Tuscaloosa since he was in middle school. That was when his head coach's son, Pat Surtain II, was in his freshman season for the Tide.

“I would love to go back to Alabama,” Fletcher recently told Rivals. “Last time I was up there was in the eighth grade, so I’d love to see what’s new up there. I have the same body size, a big back, as some of their players and how they produce running backs to the NFL. It’s a good look."

Fletcher rushed for 779 yards and 13 touchdowns in only eight games during his junior season. He averaged more than seven yards per rush.

He recently named Penn State his leader, but others like Alabama, Florida, Miami and Michigan are all considered top contenders in his recruitment. Fletcher grew up a big fan of the Miami Hurricanes. It may end up difficult to say no to Mario Cristobal, but Alabama will get him on campus this spring or summer. Expect his former teammate, Earl Little Jr., to also heavily recruit him to the Tide.

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The long shot

Alabama has expressed heavy interest in Haynes, but for most schools it's more wishful thinking in landing the top ranked back according to Rivals. His father, Verron Haynes, played college football for Georgia before the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Georgia, coming its first national championship since 1980, considers Haynes a top priority target. He rushed for 2,445 yards and 29 touchdowns to go along with 303 yards receiving and two additional touchdowns.

He is still considering other schools outside of his home state including Alabama. He camped at Alabama during the summer and also visited in November.

“I feel like I could fit in over there,” Haynes told BamaInsider in June. “I’m very versatile, just like how they used Najee [Harris]. I can run the ball and catch out of the backfield, just whatever they need me to do.

“Competition brings out the best in you. I feel like I’m going to go out and compete, do my job and do whatever I need to do to get on the field wherever I go.”

Haynes plans to take several visits this spring/summer before announcing a decision. The top contenders in his recruitment include Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Texas and USC.

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Order Andrew Bone's new book: ‘The Road to Bama’

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Order Andrew Bone's book now through Amazon. Click this photo to jump to the order page (Order Andrew Bone's book now through Amazon. Click this photo to jump to the order page)