NORMAN — Two big, powerful fullbacks signed with crimson wearing college football powerhouses in 2010, played as true freshmen and became important parts of their respective offenses.
Entering the 2013 season, Alabama's Jalston Fowler (6-foot-1, 250 pounds) and Oklahoma's Trey Millard (6-2, 253 pounds) have identical career totals of 81 carries and five rushing touchdowns.
The coincidences stem not from similar per-game rushes, though, but from Fowler's season-ending knee injury in the second game of Alabama's 2012 national-title season.
Fowler rushed for 385 yards and four touchdowns on the Crimson Tide's 2011 national championship squad, on which he was the third-leading rusher behind Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.
Millard's body type, speed and power seemingly make him the type of back who might see lots of touches in a traditional SEC backfield.
Just look around the league.
Georgia's Todd Gurley (6-1, 232 pounds) rushed for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. LSU's Jeremy Hill (6-2, 235 pounds) tallied 755 yards and 12 scores in 2012.
A section of Fowler's biography on Alabama's official website — “working at running back, fullback and h-back/tight end” — reads like a description of Millard, whose lack of carries has long been a subject of Oklahoma fans' ire.
To be fair, OU rosters throughout Millard's career have included some impressive feature backs, including DeMarco Murray, Dominique Whaley, Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Damien Williams.
Clay, Finch and Williams all return as seniors in 2013, creating a crowded backfield in which Millard might struggle to earn carries.
But Millard's career 5.4-yards per carry average is equal to Williams', and better than Clay's and Finch's career averages of 4.7 and 5.2, respectively.
Millard has shown big-play ability, too. He broke off a 61-yard touchdown run in a 2011 win at Kansas State, and created perhaps the most exciting OU offensive moment last season year against Texas.
Millard caught a pass in the flats, jumped over the Longhorns' Mykkele Thompson and simultaneously forearmed Adrian Phillips to the ground before sprinting for a 73-yard gain in OU's 63-21 rout.
“We get him involved ... just hard to do a whole lot more with the spot he's in,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said just after the 2012 season. “But we always look for it, and we'll keep doing that, because we feel he's one of our best players.”
Millard considered entering April's NFL Draft, but chose another college season to get better prepared for the league.
Asked last month where he expects to play in the NFL, he said, “It kind of depends on what team picks me and what their needs are. That's why I just try to be as versatile as possible — running back, H-back, fullback, tight end.”
Through 40 career games, those roles — comprising Fowler's exact job description in his 26 career Alabama games — have mostly meant blocking for Millard.