Yeldon Was Great As No. 2 Tailback

T.J. Yeldon

To be number one, it helps to have a good number two. In fact, back-up players at many positions are important for a football team trying top make it through the season as best in the nation. Was T.J. Yeldon the best back-up tailback in recent Alabama history?



In the past four seasons, Alabama has had an excellent one-two punch at tailback. For two of those seasons that one-two was Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram with eventual first round draft choice Trent Richardson behind him. Richardson was backed by Eddie Lacy in 2011 and Lacy had T.J. Yeldon behind him last season.

Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban has a long history of having plenty of depth at tailback. It's a position where players are exposed to the high-speed contact that can result in a player having to spend time on the sideline.

The system has worked well. Those previous starting tailbacks since the 2009 national championship season have all headed to the National Football League after their junior seasons. This year Yeldon is expected to be the starter as a sophomore, and he's coming off a nice freshman start, a 1,000-yard season.

Lacy and Yeldon combined for 2,182 of Bama's 2,920 yards rushing and back-up Yeldon accounted for 34.2 per cent of all Alabama rushing yardage.

The best rushing tandem in yards was the 2009 pair, Ingram rushing for 1,658 and Richardson for 751, a total of 2,409 of the Tide's 3,011 rushing yards. Richardson as back-up accounted for 24.9 per cent of the total.

Ingram and Richardson weren't as effective in 2010, Ingram 875 and Richardson 700, a total of 1,575 of the team's 2,378 yards. Richardson accounted for 29.4 per cent.

With Richardson as the lead dog in 2011, he had 1,679 yards and Lacy had 674, a total of 2,353 of Bama's 2,788. Lacy's contribution was 24.2 per cent.

As a back-up Yeldon had both the highest total of rushing yards and the greatest percentage of contribution to the Tide's overall rushing total. And that's not even counting his one pass reception for 28 yards and a touchdown against LSU.

As for the next question...

Who will be the back-up in 2013?

This first assumes that Jalston Fowler will be at H-back or fullback, which seems likely after spring practice in which he was held out of contact.

Also limited in the spring was returning sophomore Dee Hart, who missed all of the 2011 season with an ACL injury and all but five games of last season with his second ACL.

The number three man behind Lacy last year was sophomore Kenyan Drake (6-1, 201), who averaged 6.7 yards per carry on his 42 runs.

Derrick Henry(6-3, 238) reported in the spring semester and was doing well in practice before suffering a broken leg. He is expected to be 100 per cent by the start of practice. Bama also brings in three other highly-regarded signees at tailback in Tyren Jones (5-9, 215); Alvin Kamara (5-10, 195); and Altee Tenpenny (6-0, 207).

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