2012 Signing Day and Beyond -- Running Backs

Another year, another recruiting national championship for Alabama. Although I love the 'Tide, I do believe that the athletic department in Tuscaloosa will somehow claim 13 recruiting titles previous to today's win and ask us to consider each and every one of them unanimous and legit. **Crazy 'Bama Fan Guy does not find this funny**

There are still a few folks out there who believe that recruiting and the ratings that go along with each player are overrated.  Oddly enough, they are the only people that use fax machines the other 364 days of the year that aren't national signing day.

Not sure if you saw what I did there in that last sentence, but I took the fax machine's use on national signing day and made a joke with it by tying in those who are still old fashioned and don't believe recruiting is that important.

[caption id="attachment_433" align="alignright" width="300" caption=""I'd say the fish I caught was this big, aight... But enough about me. You want to play at Alabama and win championships or not?" -Nick Saban's go-to pickup line to every recruit. It works."][/caption]

Is it any coincidence that Nick Saban has had unbelievably talented classes in Tuscaloosa since 2008 and has won two national championships in the past three years? No.

Why don't we take a look at the position that has given Alabama its only Heisman winner and is as/more scrutinized than the quarterback position.  Quarterbacks get all the credit and all the blame on every team, but the running back position at Alabama has always determined how successful the team would be.

Today's biggest signee at running back is T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon could easily be 2012's version of the 2010 Marcus Lattimore. Let's see how Mr. Yeldon will fit with the guys returning for 2012.

T.J. Yeldon -- 5-Star RB Daphne, AL (Daphne High School)

One of two great signees from Daphne (4-star LB Ryan Anderson), Yeldon appears to be the real deal.  At 6-2 205 and a 4.43 40, Rivals.com says that Yeldon reminds them of a guy named Darren McFadden. If not for Timmy Tebow, McFadden would probably have a bronze trophy with a stiff-arming player on it in his trophy case. There could be worse comparisons in the world.

Yeldon also became an immediate fan-favorite in Tuscaloosa following his flip from Auburn to Alabama on December 18th.  The No. 2 rated running back in the 2012 class was a longtime commit for the Tigers, but Yeldon confirmed the rumors that he was wavering when he called Saban to tell him the good news.

Many say his impact could be similar to that of likely NFL first round draft pick Trent Richardson.  Depending on how durable Eddie Lacy is in 2012, Yeldon's impact may be even larger.  Lacy was injured much of 2012 and everyone knows that Nick Saban prefers to rely on three running backs, so Yeldon will more than likely see the field in 2012.  Mark Ingram won the Heisman with Trent Richardson getting a healthy dose of carries in 2009 and Trent Richardson was a Heisman finalist this season with Eddie Lacy getting a chunk of playing time in each game.  It's safe to say that two other running backs will get on the field in 2012 even if Lacy is averaging 10 yards per carry and 3 touchdowns per game.  We can assume redshirt freshman speedster Dee Hart will be one back getting in on the action.  If Yeldon lives up the hype, he is expected to do some damage to the depth chart as well.

No position in football has seen a greater impact from freshman over the past decade as running back.  You only have to go back to 2008 to see a considerable contribution from frosh backs.  Mark Ingram made an immediate impact at Alabama in 2008 and Trent Richardson did the same in 2009. South Carolina won the SEC East for the first time with Marcus Lattimore and Auburn won the National Championship with Michael Dyer the same season in 2010.

A very early peak into the 2012 depth chart at running back reveals a crowded backfield. That means absolutely nothing at this point, but we'll look anyway.  'Bama fans were clamoring at the depth of the backfield this time last year before Corey Grant transferred to Auburn and Demetrius Goode left for North Alabama.  All Alabama had left was Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, and Jalston Fowler to take all the snaps... Never mind.  Bad example.

Anywho, back to the projected 2012 depth chart including Yeldon.

1. Eddie Lacy - Jr.

2. T.J. Yeldon - Fr. (2012 Signee)

3. Dee Hart - RS Fr.

4. Jalston Fowler - Jr.

5. Brent Calloway - RS Fr.

If the above depth chart proves true, Jalston Fowler will be the odd man out at the No. 4 spot. With Yeldon and Lacy's size, Dee Hart's speed will be the change-up of choice for 2012. Yes, 2011 proved to be a season of physical running backs in Tuscaloosa, but Dee Hart was the change-up of choice as the third back in 2011 until a torn ACL in the offseason ended his freshman year before it ever began.

Brent Calloway will more than likely be forced to move to the position he was recruited to play -- linebacker -- unless he just doesn't want to get on the field. Calloway was rated a 5-star linebacker in the 2011 class and his future seems brighter playing on the defensive side of the ball under Nick Saban.

Go ahead. I'll let you say it's too early to talk about this stuff, but I'm sure you're busy trying to get that important fax sent.

Back to the Alabama Crimson Tide Newsfeed