Freshman RB Keilan Robinson brings 'juice' to Alabama's offense
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A month ago, Keilan Robinson appeared to be Alabama’s fifth option at running back. Now, the true freshman might be in a position to start the Crimson Tide’s season-opener against Duke on Saturday.
Alabama’s backfield was dealt a blow during preseason camp as five-star freshman Trey Sanders suffered what appears to be a season-ending foot injury. Tuesday, BamaInsider learned that the Crimson Tide could also start Saturday’s game without its top two backs in Najee Harris and Brian Robinson Jr. as the duo faces discipline after missing a team function earlier this offseason.
Redshirt freshman Jerome Ford also received a setback earlier this month, sustaining an ankle injury during Alabama’s second scrimmage of camp. The series of events might have temporarily vaulted Keilan Robinson to the top of the Crimson Tide’s depth chart. So, what should Alabama fans expect from the former four-star recruit?
“Keilan has got juice,” head coach Nick Saban said during his Wednesday news conference. “He’s quick, he’s fast, very explosive on the perimeter. So, he kind of gives us a kind of different type guy from the other guys that we have, which I think is important at that position. So, I hope we get him a chance to have some opportunities in this game.”
Keilan Robinson, 5-foot-9, 184 pounds, arrived at Alabama in May as the No. 5 all-purpose back in this year's class. The Washington D.C. native had surgery on his knee earlier this year but has shown no limitation during drills in practice.
Saban would not comment on the possible suspensions to Harris and Brian Robinson. If the Crimson Tide does elect to sit the duo for any period of time it will be left with Ford, Keilan Robinson and Chadrius Townsend as options.
While Ford is still recovering from his ankle injury, he’s been a full participant during drills. The former three-star prospect has lined up third in the unit during viewing periods at practice and could also start Saturday. Saban said Ford’s ability will not be affected by the statuses of Harris and Robinson.
“Jerome Ford will play in the game if he’s able to play in the game, which he’s been practicing, so we assume that he can,” Saban said. “It doesn’t matter what happens to anybody else.”
BamaInsider learned that receiver DeVonta Smith and outside linebacker Terrell Lewis are also facing possible suspensions for missing the same team function. Saban called the matter an “internal family decision” and said he did not feel it necessary to share with the public.
Alabama and Duke will play at 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday inside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The game will be televised nationally on ABC.