Editor’s note: Each day between now and Alabama's date with Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship, we will review the season for a key Crimson Tide player or coach and attempt to project what’s next for him. Today we’ll look at running back T.J. Yeldon.
No. 4 T.J. Yeldon
First team All-SEC selection
Role in 2012: There were times this season where Yeldon looked like the No. 1 running back for the Crimson Tide, as he and starter Eddie Lacy were neck-and-neck for the team lead in rushing yards coming down the home stretch.
The good: The true freshman wasted no time introducing himself to the college football world, rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown against then-No. 8 Michigan in the season opener. It was the first time an Alabama rookie broke the century mark, which is saying a lot when you consider all the great tailbacks (Trent Richardson, Mark Ingram, Shaun Alexander) to come through Tuscaloosa, Ala. Yeldon showed the full package at tailback, rushing between the tackles as well as he did bouncing the ball outside. He was also adept in the passing game, coming in seventh on the team in receptions. His vision and patience running the football seemed far beyond his years.
The bad: With the ball in his hands, Yeldon had very few flaws. The issues came when he didn't. Yeldon struggled with pass protection at times, especially early in the season, though he did show signs of improvement as the year wore on. Where he didn't improve was ball security, losing fumbles in crucial situations against LSU and Texas A&M.
Crystal ball: Even if Lacy returned for his senior season, he might not enter camp as the No. 1 running back. Yeldon is simply too talented a player to be kept to 10 carries a game. We've only begun to see what he's capable of as a freshman. Another year of learning the offense and training in the weight room should pay dividends for the former four-star and Mr. Football in the state of Alabama.