Photo by Hillgrove High School

Mark Ingram won the 2009 Heisman Trophy and will likely be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Trent Richardson is expected to step up as the starting tailback this season and will be the focal point of an Alabama attack that will begin the 2011 in the top five. Nick Saban has shown at Alabama that he knows his running backs and while he missed out on the top Georgia tailback on National Signing Day 2011, he will snag the top back from the Peach State on National Signing Day 2012. Just days before the current batch of seniors could ink letters of intent, Hillgrove junior running back Kenyan Drake pledged to be a member of the Crimson Tide signing class next year.

“It is really exciting to find you are a commodity (in the recruiting world),” said Drake in a recent interview on Score Atlanta’s The Official Visit. “It’s a good feeling to know your hard work paid off.”

Drake has been a commodity for some time now, and he leads a bumper crop of the position Georgia is perhaps most known for: running back. Several of Georgia’s top tailbacks have already committed to colleges at the next level, but Drake got it all started earlier this year. He had plenty of options and had those options for quite a while. “It was really cool to get my first letter from UCLA as a freshman. It felt good to be noticed.”

Drake decided to pull the trigger on the Crimson Tide after visiting the campus three or four times, he says. “I saw myself living there for the next four of five years. I thought they could really develop me and prepare me for my goal.” His goal is of course the NFL, which he says is everyone’s goal that goes to a major program like Alabama.

The man that could help him get there is the Alabama head man Nick Saban. “He told my parents he liked my character,” Drake said about Saban. He says he first met Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart at Alabama’s Junior Day and they both told him they liked his versatility. As far as a position, his versatility will help him see the field as he could play running back, slot receiver or straight-up wide receiver. “They don’t want to limit how I can help.”

On Coaches Saban and Smart, Drake says he feels really comfortable under them. “I can talk to them about anything.” Because of his comfort with the coaching staff and his love of the campus in Tuscaloosa, Drake says that his commitment is a solid one. “I want to go to Alabama, so if nothing changes I will go to Alabama.”

Though it is now over, the recruiting process for Drake was easy he says because of some of his past Hillgrove teammates. Synjyn Days played quarterback two years ago for the Hawks, attracting college recruiters before ending up at Georgia Tech. It is Days who Drake credits for getting his Alabama offer. “(Days) is the reason I got recruited at all.” Days’ younger half-brother Jabari Hunt-Days brought out the recruiters last year as the linebacker excelled on the field despite his less-than-prototypical size. “Jabari is a special player,” gushed Drake and Hunt-Days will join his half-brother at Georgia Tech. Now it is Drake’s turn to “lead” Hillgrove as a senior and he will attempt to take the Hawks to new heights. “I’m going to model everything I do this year after those two. We have a great opportunity to get back (competing) for a championship.”

Before Drake steps onto the Tuscaloosa campus, however, he will be working hard on leading Hillgrove to a state title while also improving his own game. “I want to get in the weight room, especially if I want to play running back.” Drake also says he must become a better vocal leader in addition to just being a leader on the field. Once a member of the Tide, Drake says he wouldn’t mind if the coaches red-shirted him but if called upon, he’ll be ready in 2012. “If they want to play me, I can show my skills.”

Drake is versatile, whether it is running the ball, making blocks or catching swing passes, so expect Saban to use the back in some way to great success. He does after all have a track record of churning out top quality backs.