Crimson Tide RB T.J. Yeldon not shy about ambitions - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Crimson Tide RB T.J. Yeldon not shy about ambitions

Posted: Updated:
Sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon will play a major role in Alabama's attempt to become the first team to win three straight national titles.(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) Sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon will play a major role in Alabama's attempt to become the first team to win three straight national titles.(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — T.J. Yeldon might be top-ranked Alabama's next great tailback but that doesn't mean he's eager to chat about it.

The Crimson Tide's reticent runner said he doesn't like doing media interviews and that he seldom gets recognized on campus. Chatty or not, it probably won't be possible for Yeldon to maintain that low profile as he takes over the lead role in 'Bama's backfield after shining on national stages as a freshman.

"I just don't really like talking," Yeldon said. "But I can't run from it, so I get used to it. It doesn't bother me now."

He isn't running from his ambition to be the best Alabama tailback ever.

Yeldon follows BCS championship game MVP Eddie Lacy, who replaced 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist Trent Richardson, who succeeded 2009 Heisman winner Mark Ingram. Richardson and Ingram have turned in the top two single-season rushing performances in school history and been first-round NFL draft picks.

There's little doubt Yeldon can be another strong link in that chain.

The Crimson Tide are ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason college football poll that was released Saturday and Yeldon will play a major role in their attempt to become the first team to win three straight national titles.

He set Alabama's freshman record with 1,108 yards and finished with huge performances in the SEC and national title games. One thing Yeldon isn't shy about is his ambition to outshine his recent predecessors and other Tide tailbacks like former NFL MVP Shaun Alexander and Bobby Humphrey.

"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."

Yeldon arrived in Tuscaloosa in January 2012 — after initially committing to rival Auburn — as a coveted recruit. He captivated fans with an MVP performance in the spring game and became the first Alabama freshman to debut with a 100-yard performance on national TV against Michigan.

He racked up 153 yards against Georgia in the SEC title game and followed that with 108 yards against Notre Dame. Coach Nick Saban said he's "a complete player" who knows the offense and can block and catch, too.

"We expect him to have a great year," Saban said, "and we're hopeful that he'll be able to stay healthy."

Coaches and teammates unanimously responded with "quiet" when asked to describe Yeldon's personality but also say he has a funny side.

He was happily shielded from interviews most of last season because of Saban's policy keeping freshmen off-limits.

Yeldon's reaction to the biggest play of his career perhaps sums up his public demeanor.

After catching a game-winning touchdown pass against LSU, he kind of half-flapped his arms while looking into the stands. Then he walked along the sidelines, helmet still on, barely pausing for congratulations from coaches and a back-slap from Ingram.

To Daphne High School coach Glenn Vickery, that's just T.J.

"You could almost see a smile underneath that helmet," said Vickery, Yeldon's coach from middle school through high school. "That's his emotion. You didn't see any kind of dance, you didn't see any kind of movement."

Yeldon, who often lined up as a slot receiver early in his prep career, scored the winning touchdown in the 2010 state championship game after lining up at Wildcat quarterback. He had also joined the varsity late in the season as a 9th-grader.

"He returned a kickoff about 99 yards against Pace High School out of Florida, and Pace High School's pretty darn good," Vickery said. "You saw it coming."

Yeldon had only 11 catches last season, but his old coach said he has "very similar type hands" to another south Alabama product, Atlanta Falcons and ex-Tide receiver Julio Jones.

Vickery also recalled the U.S. Army All-American Game, where Yeldon was content to let other highly rated backs like Texas-bound Malcolm Brown and Barry Sanders, who signed with Stanford, get much of the attention. At least until he caught a pass in the flat, made a nifty move and hurdled a defender.

"When you see T.J., he was that five-star recruit and now he's a Heisman candidate but he'd just as soon sit in the back of the locker room and talk to his teammates and do what kids do," Vickery said. "He'd rather somebody else get the limelight and the camera. He didn't beat his own chest. He didn't walk around celebrating that he was a four-star or five-star recruit.

"His personality's different than a lot of those kids that just want to announce it and talk about it. He's a quiet kid."

  • Auburn University SportsMore>>

  • Auburn QB Nick Marshall pays $1,100 in fines for marijuana possession, window tint violations in Georgia

    Auburn QB Nick Marshall pays $1,100 in fines for marijuana possession, window tint violations in Georgia

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:33 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:33:03 GMT
    Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has paid the fines for possession of a small amount of marijuana and a window tint violation.More >>
    Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has paid the fines for possession of a small amount of marijuana and a window tint violation.
    More >>
  • CB Chris Westry commits to Auburn

    CB Chris Westry commits to Auburn

    Thursday, July 24 2014 2:22 PM EDT2014-07-24 18:22:20 GMT
    Auburn added some size to the future of it's defensive backfield.Cornerback Chris Westry of Oakleaf High School in Florida committed to be part of the Tigers recruiting class of 2015. The 6-foot-4, 180 pound Westry is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports.Oakleaf High School announced the commitment on it's twitter page,2015 DB Chris Westry has committed to Auburn #WarEagle --Oakleaf Football ?, July 24 Westry is the 18th commitment for Auburn's 2015 signing class.More >>
    Auburn added some size to the future of it's defensive backfield.Cornerback Chris Westry of Oakleaf High School in Florida committed to be part of the Tigers recruiting class of 2015. The 6-foot-4, 180 pound Westry is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports.Oakleaf High School announced the commitment on it's twitter page,2015 DB Chris Westry has committed to Auburn #WarEagle --Oakleaf Football ?, July 24 Westry is the 18th commitment for Auburn's 2015 signing class.More >>
  • Josh Donaldson nominated for MLB Heart and Hustle Award

    Josh Donaldson nominated for MLB Heart and Hustle Award

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 6:37 PM EDT2014-07-23 22:37:43 GMT
    Josh Donaldson earned the Oakland A's Heart and Hustle Award. It's the second consecutive season Donaldson was chosen for the honor.More >>
    Josh Donaldson earned the Oakland A's Heart and Hustle Award. It's the second consecutive season Donaldson was chosen for the honor.More >>
  • All other Local CollegesMore>>

  • Samford picked to finish third in Southern Conference

    Samford picked to finish third in Southern Conference

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 8:38 PM EDT2014-07-24 00:38:39 GMT
    Coming off it's first trip to the FCS Playoffs, Samford was picked to finish third in the Southern Conference, the highest the program has even been picked in the preseason since it joined the league in 2008.More >>
    Coming off it's first trip to the FCS Playoffs, Samford was picked to finish third in the Southern Conference, the highest the program has even been picked in the preseason since it joined the league in 2008.More >>
  • Alabama State, Southern favorites in SWAC

    Alabama State, Southern favorites in SWAC

    Friday, July 18 2014 5:11 PM EDT2014-07-18 21:11:55 GMT
    Defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Southern and Alabama State are the favorites to win their divisions.More >>
    Defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Southern and Alabama State are the favorites to win their divisions.
    More >>
  • JSU football picked by media to win OVC championship

    JSU football picked by media to win OVC championship

    Friday, July 18 2014 4:08 PM EDT2014-07-18 20:08:13 GMT
    Jacksonville State is picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference championship by media covering the league.More >>
    Jacksonville State is picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference championship by media covering the league.
    More >>
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Social media helps Homewood bakery find missing truck in under an hour

    Social media helps Homewood bakery find missing truck in under an hour

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:33 PM EDT2014-07-28 02:33:35 GMT
    A Homewood bakery got its missing truck back less than one hour after asking for help on social media. Two people saw the plea for help on social media and spotted it on their way home from a Barons game.More >>
    A Homewood bakery got its missing truck back less than one hour after asking for help on social media. Two people saw the plea for help on social media and spotted it on their way home from a Barons game.More >>
  • Nationwide manhunt for Ozark man accused of kidnapping, sexual assault

    Nationwide manhunt for Ozark man accused of kidnapping, sexual assault

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:00 PM EDT2014-07-28 02:00:39 GMT
    David PittsDavid Pitts
    A 30 year old woman and 8 year old child are receiving medical treatment after they were kidnapped and sexually assaulted. A nationwide manhunt is now underway for the suspect.More >>
    A 30 year old woman and 8 year old child are receiving medical treatment after they were kidnapped and sexually assaulted. A nationwide manhunt is now underway for the suspect.More >>
  • Attorney "getting conflicting stories about absentee ballots" in contested JeffCo race

    Attorney "getting conflicting stories about absentee ballots" in contested JeffCo race

    Sunday, July 27 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-07-27 23:08:43 GMT
    Jefferson County Commissioner Sandra Little Brown is expected to address the challenge to the District Two election results Monday. The contest was filed by one of her opponent's supporters. ABC 33/40 spoke with the attorney representing that supporter.More >>
    Jefferson County Commissioner Sandra Little Brown is expected to address the challenge to the District Two election results Monday. The contest was filed by one of her opponent's supporters. ABC 33/40 spoke with the attorney representing that supporter.More >>
  • Woman doused with gasoline and burned by ex-boyfriend

    Woman doused with gasoline and burned by ex-boyfriend

    Sunday, July 27 2014 5:04 PM EDT2014-07-27 21:04:38 GMT
    The Jefferson County Sheriff's department is looking for 48 year old Michael Kennedy. He's wanted on several charges after allegedly setting his ex-girlfriend on fire. Just after 2:30 this morning deputies respond to a report of a house fire in the 4400 block of Nellie Anderson Street. They arrived to find a 49 year old female victim with extensive burns to her head, arms, upper body and legs. She was transported to the hospital and admitted to a burn unit in serious condition. Investigators...More >>
    The Jefferson County Sheriff's department is looking for 48 year old Michael Kennedy. He's wanted on several charges after allegedly setting his ex-girlfriend on fire. Just after 2:30 this morning deputies respond to a report of a house fire in the 4400 block of Nellie Anderson Street. They arrived to find a 49 year old female victim with extensive burns to her head, arms, upper body and legs. She was transported to the hospital and admitted to a burn unit in serious condition. Investigators...More >>
  • A triple shooting leaves one person dead

    A triple shooting leaves one person dead

    Sunday, July 27 2014 11:51 AM EDT2014-07-27 15:51:55 GMT
    One person is dead and two others in juried in an early morning shooting in Ensley. Birmingham Police report incident occurred in the 1600 Block of Avenue I. Around 2:30 a.m. police were called to the location and found the victim lying face down in the street suffering from a gunshot wound to the back. Birmingham Fire and Rescue also responded to the scene and pronounced the victim deceased at the scene. The name of the victim has not yet been released pending notification of relatives. Ther...More >>
    One person is dead and two others in juried in an early morning shooting in Ensley. Birmingham Police report incident occurred in the 1600 Block of Avenue I. Around 2:30 a.m. police were called to the location and found the victim lying face down in the street suffering from a gunshot wound to the back. Birmingham Fire and Rescue also responded to the scene and pronounced the victim deceased at the scene. The name of the victim has not yet been released pending notification of relatives. Ther...More >>
  • Judge Rules Benz Plant Violated Labor Laws

    Judge Rules Benz Plant Violated Labor Laws

    Saturday, July 26 2014 11:29 PM EDT2014-07-27 03:29:07 GMT
    A judge has ruled Mercedes-Benz U.S. International violated labor laws while dealing with employees interested in forming a labor union.An administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board ordered MBUSI to revise rules in its employee handbook governing the solicitation and distribution of materials at its auto manufacturing plant in Vance.The United Auto Workers accused Mercedes managers of stymieing pro-union employees' efforts to distribute information about the union.Mercede...More >>
    A judge has ruled Mercedes-Benz U.S. International violated labor laws while dealing with employees interested in forming a labor union.An administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board ordered MBUSI to revise rules in its employee handbook governing the solicitation and distribution of materials at its auto manufacturing plant in Vance.The United Auto Workers accused Mercedes managers of stymieing pro-union employees' efforts to distribute information about the union.Mercede...More >>
  • Glen Allen man killed in accident involving logging truck

    Glen Allen man killed in accident involving logging truck

    Saturday, July 26 2014 6:17 PM EDT2014-07-26 22:17:25 GMT
    Alabama State Troopers say a 63 year old man from Glen Allen was killed in a two vehicle crash in Fayette County. It happened Friday night on County Road 73.More >>
    Alabama State Troopers say a 63 year old man from Glen Allen was killed in a two vehicle crash in Fayette County. It happened Friday night on County Road 73.More >>
  • Shooting victim's wife and sons want answers concerning homicide investigation

    Shooting victim's wife and sons want answers concerning homicide investigation

    Saturday, July 26 2014 6:11 PM EDT2014-07-26 22:11:45 GMT
    Family members grieve the loss of a 37-year-old man shot dead. Birmingham police are investigating. A family is asking questions as police hear conflicting stories.More >>
    Family members grieve the loss of a 37-year-old man shot dead. Birmingham police are investigating. A family is asking questions as police hear conflicting stories.
    More >>