May 10, 2011
Alabama likes Yeldon on offense
The University of Alabama is still looking for a premier running back in the 2012 recruiting class, and while the Crimson Tide has its eye on some national backs, UA's top target may be in its own backyard.
Daphne, Ala. running back T.J. Yeldon was ranked No. 58 nationally in the first release of the Rivals 100 on Monday and has Alabama among his favorites.
Despite rumors of the UA coaching staff wanting him to play on the defensive side of the ball, both Yeldon and Daphne assistant coach Mike Vickery confirmed that every school is looking at him as a running back.
"Alabama has never mentioned defense to T.J.," Vickery said. "We're very close to those coaches and not one time has defense ever come out of anyone's mouth there. In fact, they've told him that he's not even really what they would be looking for defensively. He's an offensive guy and an offensive guy only.
"Everyone else is recruiting him strictly as a running back and as a guy that can move out and play in the slot, kind of a two-back deal where they can move him out of the backfield and create some matchup problems there for people."
UA head coach Nick Saban spoke with Yeldon recently and reassured him that Alabama was recruiting him as a running back and wanted him on the offensive side of the ball.
"I had a video conference with him the other day," Yeldon said. "It went pretty good. He was talking about me playing running back and not playing defense. He also talked about what type of player you're going to be in your third year there. That's when the NFL people look at you for real."
Yeldon's recruitment has picked up significantly in the last couple months. He listed Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Oregon and USC as his top schools with the two in-state schools holding a slight edge.
"I like Alabama and how they're really into football," Yeldon said. "I like the campus, the community around there and the fans. There's good support around there. I also like how they run their practice and their weight room."
On Monday, Daphne High School practiced for the first time in full pads. The reigning state champions plan to utilize Yeldon in more roles this year on offense, including in the slot and as a quarterback in the Wildcat formation.
"Practice has been good the last few days," Yeldon said. "We've ran over a couple of plays with the offense, and they have had me at different positions. They had me at running back and quarterback, like the Wildcat."
Last year, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound back rushed for 1,150 yards and 18 touchdowns and also had 500 yards and five touchdowns receiving.
"With T.J., the number of things he can do for an offense is the most impressive thing," Vickery said. "He's as good in the backfield as he is out of the backfield, and that creates a lot of matchup problems for people. He's equally as good as a wideout as he is as a running back."
Alabama assistant coach Jeremy Pruitt came by the high school last week to watch both Yeldon and his teammate, Crimson Tide commitment Ryan Anderson, work out.
Anderson has been on his friend and teammate, trying to get him to come to Alabama with him. The duo is planning to drive up to Tuscaloosa sometime in the next week or two.
Reach Greg Ostendorf at email@example.com.
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