Jerome Ford has been a force for the Bearcats in 2021.
The junior running back has been an outstanding running back for No. 4 Cincinnati, running twice as much as any other player on the team, and more than four times than any other running back on the team. His 6.22 yards per carry rank 10th among running backs with at least 150 carries, and only six players scored more rushing touchdowns than their 19 in 2021.
On Friday, he will take the most transfers in the biggest game of his career when he and the Bearcats meet former Ford team No. 1 Alabama in the semifinal of the college football playoffs.
MORE: Why isn’t America hugging Cincinnati?
What should you know about Ford? Sporting News breaks it down.
Landing with Crimson Tide
It was inevitable when Cincinnati took on Alabama that mention of Ford’s past would become a hot topic.
Before coming to Ohio, Ford spent two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, running back for Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. He was in a team that reached the national championship in 2018 and in another that barely reached the CFP in 2019.
Coming out of Armwood High School in Seffner, Florida, Ford was a four-star recruit ranking 370 in the nation and No. 12 among all-purpose runners in the 2018 class. according to 247Sports Composite Rankings. It chose Crimson Tide over other offerings, including Cincinnati, USF, UNC, and Louisville.
Ford didn’t play much in his first season, rushing seven times for 37 yards and wearing a red jersey for the season. In 2019, he carried the ball 24 times for 114 yards and scored three touchdowns.
“We thought Jerome was an outstanding player when he was with us,” Saban said. according to BamaOnLine. “He had some success with us, and I think he has done a really good job of continuing to develop as a player. It has great speed. It is physical. It makes people miss. He can run with power and has had a fantastic year. I’m very happy that things have turned out well for him, where he was able to create value for himself in terms of the goals and aspirations he had. “
MORE: Betting Trends Ahead of Cincinnati-Alabama
Transfer to Cincinnati
During high school, Ford was recruited by Cincinnati running back coach Gino Guidugli and said he felt he had a good relationship with the Bearcats coach.
So after his freshman season in a red jersey, when Ford decided he could use a change of scenery, Guidugli, who had moved into the role of quarterback coach in 2018, returned in search of the running back.
“When I entered the transfer portal, I knew that Coach G was still a great guy and a place I felt like I could go. That’s how I ended up choosing Cincinnati,” Ford said, according to BamaOnLine. “I still had that relationship with Coach G and I hit those guys and they made it happen.”
Ford split time in 2020 with senior running back Gerrid Doaks. Doaks led the backfield with 673 rushing yards on 144 carries and scored seven touchdowns, while Ford rushed 73 times for 483 yards and eight touchdowns.
MORE: Cincinnati earned the shot on the CFP stage
But after Doaks graduated, Ford has been the Bearcats’ signature comeback in 2021. His 1,242 yards on 200 carries are by far the most on the team, with quarterback Desmond Ridder as the next running back. closest in both categories with 100 carries and 371 yards. And now, he wants to be known not as the former Alabama running back, but as the Cincinnati star.
“It’s a great opportunity to play on a great stage,” Ford said, according to BamaOnLine. “I am grateful for all that Coach Saban has done for me and for the opportunity to play for Alabama. But I’m a Bearcat, and I would appreciate it if people would stop calling me ‘the Alabama transfer’. I am a Bearcat from Cincinnati. But like I said, I’m grateful for everything that Coach Saban did for me and for the opportunity to play in Alabama, surrounded by all the great coaches and other great players. “
Jerome Ford NFL draft screening
Ford could still return for another season in Cincinnati if he decided to return, but as a junior in a red jersey, he also has the option of making the jump to the NFL.
If he turned pro, there would be a lot of teams interested in the running back. According to ESPN’s great Mel Kiper dashboard, Ford is listed as the 10th running back in the draft class. Oliver Hodgkinson of Pro Football Network He said he would have Ford as one of his 100 best players in the draft class.
Previously, the only 30 best running defenses he had faced were Houston (10th under, 108.2 yards per game) and Notre Dame (30th under, 127.3). Against Houston, he had 18 carries for 187 yards and two touchdowns, while he rushed 17 times for 71 yards against Notre Dame.
Ford’s game on Friday will be an important test for him. He faces a defense that is allowing the fourth fewest rushing yards per game among FBS teams at just 82.8 yards per game. If he performs well in the Cotton Bowl, his draft stock could skyrocket.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.