TUSCALOOSA – Thanks to a 1,100-plus yard breakout freshman year, Alabama Crimson Tide sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon may be the Heisman Trophy sleeper no one is talking about.
While playing in the rugged SEC has it’s disadvantages, playing in the same conference as Heisman front-runners in South Carolina defensive end Jadaveon Clowney, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and running back Todd Gurley and teammate in quarterback A.J. McCarron, may work in the super sophomore’s favor in 2013.
During Alabama’s title run, the 6’2 218-pounder rushed for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground and caught 11 passes for 131 yards and one touchdown en route to playing a key role in securing the Tide’s 15th national title(tenth in the AP-poll era) and third in four years.
The sixth leading rusher in the SEC, Yeldon romped for 153 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries in a 32-28 win over the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game and 108 yards, one touchdown on 21 carries against the—allegedly mythical—Notre Dame Fighting Irish defense that played more matador-like instead of man-to-man in a 42-14 BCS title game rout.
The only question the remains to be answered about Yeldon is, can he channel his inner Mark Ingram, and become the second Alabama player to win the Heisman?
Playing on a loaded team and back-to-back defending champion like Alabama may help his chances, having another Heisman candidate in McCarron in the same backfield may hurt Yeldon’s chances instead of help. That as well as being in a possible time-share in a loaded running back stable that consists of Derrick Henry, Dee Hart, Jalston Fowler, Kenyan Drake and Blake Sims may handcuff his Heisman hopes.
The Tide have the rarest of luxuries in having a dynamic and explosive back in Yeldon and a cool-under-pressure quarterback in McCarron, and while Yeldon may or may not win the Heisman, he will certainly be the workhorse that powers Alabama to another inevitable trip to the BCS title game in January.
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