TJ Yeldon – Possible Heisman Candidate?
Last season, T.J. Yeldon was a freshman running back for Alabama, but he didn’t play like a freshman on the field… he played like a senior. Yeldon astonished us with his field vision, how light he was on his feet, his agility, and his size. This season, being a sophomore, he is one of my three picks to end up on the Heisman candidate list. A.J. McCarron, T.J.Yeldon, and C.J. Moseley are three Alabama players who could possibly bring the Heisman trophy back to Tuscaloosa this year.
What’s so special about T.J. Yeldon?
Last season, Yeldon was a back-up running back to the famous Eddie Lacy who was drafted to the NFL by the Green Bay Packers. Although he was a backup to Lacy, Yeldon had many key runs that helped Alabama win its second straight national title. Eddie Lacy, Trent Richardson, and 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, were all known as brick walls. All were muscular and quick and could juke and spin away from any opponents that came their way. And if that didn’t work, they could simply knock the defender down with one hand. But that’s not how Yeldon plays it.
Yeldon is different than any running back we’ve seen at Alabama in the past few years. Yeldon weighs in at 6-foot-2, 218 pounds, and is taller and leaner than Lacy, Richardson, or Ingram which makes him lighter on his feet. He does not bulldoze his way through the line; instead, he seems to slip right through defenders with his speed and quickness.
In the Alabama/Michigan 2012 season opener game, Yeldon opened up his college career with 11 carries for an average of 10.1 yards. At Tennessee he rushed for 129 yards with 15 carries as well as having a career-long run of 43 yards. Throughout this past season, he proved just how different he was. He wouldn’t run over the defenders, he would just run right past them. He was so elusive at the 2013 National Championship, Manti Te’o and the Notre Dane defense could only watch as he ran by them; Yeldon was light on his feet and kept Notre Dame on their toes throughout the game. By the end of the 2012 season, Yeldon had racked up an impressive 1,108 yards in his freshman year, a feat many running backs with more experience fail to do.
What does that mean for this year?
Yeldon will be a sophomore this year. Very rarely in college football does a freshman running back get that much playing time, much less have that great of a run for his first year ( pun intended). With an offseason and this season to get even better, Yeldon is not only a threat for all opposing teams, but he is a contender to win the Heisman. In my opinion, if Yeldon plays like anticipated, he has a great chance to win the Heisman. This season will be one for the record books in many ways.
Can Alabama be the first school in college football history to win a three-peat? Will T.J. Yeldon be the second running back in school history to bring the Heisman back to Tuscaloosa? Or can A.J. McCarron be the first quarterback at Alabama to win the Heisman? These are questions that will keep us on our toes all season… after all, isn’t that what Yeldon does best?