17 Days Away From Bama Kickoff: Kenyan Drake
Each day counting down to Alabama's Week 1 matchup with Utah State, I will highlight a former player whose jersey number coincides with the amount of days until the game. The Crimson Tide kicks off in just 17 days, so let's take a look back at one of the more underrated players in the Nick Saban era, Kenyan Drake.
Kenyan Drake played running back for the Crimson Tide from 2012-15 and while he was never the feature back in his time with the team, he made his impact felt in every way he could. Drake split carries with other backs in his four seasons and dealt with several injuries across his career, but remains one of the most memorable names of the Saban era.
Drake was a four-star recruit from Powder Springs, GA ranked as the 10th best player in the state and the fifth best all-purpose back. In his final season at Hillgrove High School, the senior rushed for over 1,600 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. Drake was named Georgia's Gatorade Player of the Year and then chose the Crimson Tide over his home state's schools, Georgia and Georgia Tech.
In his first season with the Tide, Drake appeared in 12 games and finished third on the team in rushing with nearly 300 yards and five touchdowns on 42 carries. Alabama ended the season 13-1, winning the national title over Notre Dame in dominant fashion and giving Drake his first of two championship rings.
As a sophomore, the second year back worked his way up the depth chart, more than doubling his carries, and compiling 700 rushing yards. The Tide ended the season in disappointing fashion though, dropping its final two games of the year to Auburn and Oklahoma.
In Drake's third season in Tuscaloosa, the Powder Springs native got off to a hot start, but suffered a broken ankle in the fifth game of the year and missed the rest of the year. As a senior in 2015, Drake returned healthy, but dealt with several nagging injuries throughout the season. First it was a cracked rib early in the year, then a concussion and finally a broken arm in Week 10. Despite the overwhelming amount of individual injuries, none kept the senior out for long. He returned from the arm injury just two weeks later and finished the season on the field.
Alabama went 14-1 in 2015, ending the year with an emotional win over the Clemson Tigers in which Drake was the star of the show. Most fans likely remember his 95-yard kick return immediately after a Tiger touchdown that gave Alabama the surge it needed to carry on to victory.
After his time in Tuscaloosa, Drake was drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Dolphins. He spent three seasons in Miami before being traded to the Arizona Cardinals in 2019 and is now a member of the Las Vegas Raiders.
Though he has continued to deal with injuries throughout his time in the league, Drake has been a solid option when healthy. Across his seven-year career, the former four-star has compiled nearly 5,000 all-purpose yards and scored 36 touchdowns. He is coming off of a severe ankle injury suffered in 2021, but looks to be healthy again heading into this season.
While he is unlikely to be a featured piece of the Raider offense, Drake can certainly carve out a role for himself due to his versatility out of the backfield.