Countdown to kickoff: 21

From now until kickoff in Arlington, Texas, we'll be counting down the days before Alabama and Michigan get the season started. Today, we move to No. 21 and what it means to UA football. See all the previous editions here.

Trent Richardson's 2011-12 season ranked as one of the best in school history. Had it not been for Robert Griffin III beating him out for the Heisman Trophy, it could have finished No. 1.

Even so, his 21 rushing touchdowns in 2011-12 rank as the most by a University of Alabama player in a single season. All told, he accounted for 24 touchdowns and 1,679 total yards of offense.

The Florida native will bear the bitter temperatures of Cleveland now, though, and the Crimson Tide are left to replace his production. Junior Eddie Lacy is the presumed starter and appears to be fully healed after offseason surgery on his foot. And Richardson's former backup is ready to continue the tradition of great running backs in Tuscaloosa.

"They set the standard pretty high, but it's not going to surpass their level," Lacy said. "It's just working on what you have to do and what you're good at doing and just going out and playing comfortable and doing what you're capable of doing."

Lacy won't be alone in the backfield. He's joined by Jalston Fowler, Dee Hart, and a pair of true freshmen tailbacks in T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake. Fowler averaged nearly 7 yards per carry last year and Yeldon wowed Tide fans with a 100-plus yard performance at A-Day in April.

With that many talented backs in one place, the competition has been intense, but friendly.

"It's never pressure between us," Lacy said. "We always compete, but it's always friendly competition. We help each other out. We give each other pointers. So even though we're going against each other , at the same time, we're pushing each other."

Single-season rushing touchdowns

1. Trent Richardson: 21

2. Shaun Alexander: 19

3. Siran Stacey: 17

4. Mark Ingram: 17

5. Johnny Musso: 16

All-purpose yards per game

1. Bobby Humphrey (1986): 168.0

2. David Palmer (1993): 163.4

3. Shaun Alexander (1999): 163.3

4. Bobby Humphrey (1987): 161.9

5. Trent Richardson (2011): 160.2