TUSCALOOSA -- There was a time when Alabama fullback Jalston Fowler considered walking away from football.
Going back to the 2012 season -- Fowler's third in the program -- he had worked his way up the depth chart and appeared to be headed toward a feature role in Alabama's offense.
In the Crimson Tide's season opener against Michigan that year, Fowler ran for 67 yards and showed off some nifty moves for a man his size (6-foot-1, 248 pounds).
But the following week, it all came to a halt as Fowler blew out his knee. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament and was lost for the season.
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With his body unable to perform, Fowler's mind questioned whether or not he'd ever play football again.
"I mean, I was pretty close," Fowler revealed.
But why didn't he?
"I couldn't do it because I had a son coming," he said. "So I had to just stick it out."
Along with the pending arrival of his son, Fowler said it also took his then-girlfriend and family members to keep his spirits up. Fowler said he allowed his mind to wonder, but ultimately he decided to stay at Alabama.
He's since received his bachelor's degree. He also earned his master's degree this semester.
"Now that I look back on it," he said, "I'm happy that I didn't."
Alabama's coaches and players are happy he didn't as well. Fowler's stats don't jump out, but his production never goes unnoticed. He's
served as a running back, fullback and H-back.
He does his best work near the goal line. In the past two seasons, Fowler has seven touchdowns receptions. He's mastered the ability to slip past defenders for a short touchdown catch out of the fullback position.
Affectionately giving the nickname "Nudie," Fowler was voted as a permanent captain by his teammates along with quarterback Blake Sims, wide receiver Amari Cooper and safety Landon Collins.
"It meant a lot to me," Fowler said of the honor. "Just for your teammates to think of you as a captain. I mean, some guy they look up to and listen to all the time. So that was really big."
Speaking with his teammates, it's easy to see why he was chosen.
"I think he's one of the more unsung hero kind of guys," Tide center Ryan Kelly said. "Talk about a guy who couldn't be more positive. A lot of us come from different backgrounds and I think what makes him so special is he's always so open to anyone who comes in. Just a great guy to be around and I call him my dear friend."
Fellow fifth-year senior Austin Shepherd called Fowler "one of my favorite people on the team," adding that he's an "all-around great guy."
Tide defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said it "would be devastating" if Fowler wasn't on the team.
"He's a very important part even though he doesn't get the credit for it a lot of the time," Allen said. "He's usually the guy making the last key block to spring the running backs free. So he's a very important piece of our offense."
If he remains healthy, Fowler's football career should extend after Alabama.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and CBSSports.com both rank Fowler as the top fullback prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft. Fowler said playing multiple roles in college will help him in the pros because "you can't take me off the field."
But whether or not he ever plays at the next level won't matter because Fowler will always be one of the favorites amongst the Crimson Tide faithful.
"I just want to be remembered as Nudie, the wrecking ball," he said.
Contact Marq Burnett on Twitter @Marq_Burnett.