Alabama running back Eddie Lacy has decided to enter the NFL draft, and this is a move that will impact the future of Alabama football, specifically in the realm of recruiting.
Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reports the news via Twitter:
Sources have confided RB's Giovani Bernard/UNC & Eddie Lacy/Alabama will enter the draft...DJ Fluker/T/Albama will follow suit— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) December 12, 2012
Lacy has had a great season which saw him run for 1,182 yards and 16 touchdowns so far, and he still has the National Championship game to play in. So with that in mind, it's not a surprise to see him capitalize on his momentum and move on to the NFL.
While many programs would be devastated by the loss of their main rusher, Alabama is not like many programs. Nick Saban does a tremendous job of using recruiting as a way to keep his depth chart deep and stocked with talented backups, so this will be a case of "next man up" for the Crimson Tide and nothing more.
Expect current freshman T.J. Yeldon to jump to the top of the depth chart and considering the year he's had (1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns on 154 attempts), he should be a more-than-capable starter for the Crimson Tide.
As far as recruits go, Lacy's decision to jump to the NFL will have a direct impact on 5-star athlete/running back Derrick Henry.
Henry is already 6'3'' 240 pounds as a senior in high school and runs a 4.54 40 according to 247Sports, so he has the intangibles to be a stellar running back at the college level, and that's where I project him playing.
If Lacy stayed at Alabama, Henry would be stuck behind Yeldon as the second backup. Now that Yeldon is in a position to be the starter, Henry's role should increase as well. Expect Saban and his staff to use Henry a lot like they used Yeldon this season, and if he's even half as good as I think he can be, he'll be an extremely effective back for the Crimson Tide.
Lacy's decision will also have an impact for the other running backs in Saban's 2013 class—4-star Tyren Jones and 4-star Altee Tenpenny. Both are listed as "soft verbals" by Rivals.com, but now that the depth chart has opened up a bit above them, there's a much better chance that they'll stay committed to the Crimson Tide.
There's also uncommitted 4-star running back recruit Alvin Kamara, who has Georgia and Alabama on top of his interest list according to 247Sports. Georgia seems to be the favorite for him, but perhaps the obvious turnover of talent at Alabama could sway him over to the Crimson Tide. As is the case with Jones and Tenpenny, there's more room on the depth chart now, which makes Alabama more of a viable option for an elite recruit.
Kamara can be a very talented change-of-pace back, so he's a recruit to keep an eye on now that Lacy has decided to enter the NFL draft.
Here's yet another example of why Alabama had been so good, and why Saban is considered to be such a good recruiter.
One great player will leave Alabama, but he will be replaced by another great player—who has great players backing him up.
It truly is a championship formula.