Yeldon aims to be best Tide ever has had
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Aug 13, 2013 | 3935 views |  0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama's T.J. Yeldon made The Sporting News preseason All-America team. (Photo by Bill Wilson)
Alabama's T.J. Yeldon made The Sporting News preseason All-America team. (Photo by Bill Wilson)
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TUSCALOOSA -- T.J. Yeldon set a goal long before he ever stepped foot on Alabama’s campus.

The Crimson Tide sophomore running back made it his mission to be the best running back at whatever university he decided to attend.

“I set that goal going into college,” Yeldon said. “Wherever I was going to go, I was going to be the best back that ever come through that college. So that’s pretty much my goal.”

There’s Shaun Alexander, Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram -- who Yeldon mentioned by name -- and a host of others who wore the crimson and white jerseys while running through or around defenders. But Yeldon wants to surpass all of the great former Tide running backs and he isn’t off to a bad start.

The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Daphne native set an Alabama freshman record by rushing for 1,108 yards, and tied Ingram’s freshman mark with 12 touchdowns. Yeldon has his sights set on Richardon’s single-season record of 1,679 rushing yards as he becomes the feature back this season. And he’s working every day to become the best back in the country.

“Yeah, there are a couple things (I’m working on),” he said. “My pad level, just bursting through the hole, acceleration, whatever the coaches tell me I need to work on.”

It didn’t take Yeldon much time to become comfortable with the system. He said after a few plays into the Michigan game he began to feel comfortable. Yeldon got that start in his first college game with Eddie Lacy hurt and began the first Alabama freshman to rush for 100 yards in his debut.

Splitting carries with Lacy last year allowed Yeldon to remain fresh and finish the season strong. Now he’s looking for a backfield partner to spell him, whether that be one or two other guys.

“He’s a complete player,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “He’s a really good receiver, and he’s a good runner. And he understands what he’s doing, and he’s played enough that his knowledge and experience certainly helps him with the rest of the players.

“We expect him to have a great year, and we’re hopeful that he'll be able to stay healthy.”

Yeldon is getting national recognition with preseason All-American honors and his name has popped on a few award watch lists this offseason. He’s also a dark horse for the Heisman Trophy. But his goal remains the same.

“I’m always going to be motivated,” he said. “I’m just trying to be the best I can be, the best running back to ever come through here. So I’m just doing what I can do to be the best.”
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