Alabama running back Trent Richardson wants to get where former Tide standout Mark Ingram has already gone, namely to the NFL and, if possible, to the podium during the climactic moment of the Heisman ceremony.
Helping Richardson accomplish those goals is none other than the 2009 Heisman winner, who has been a consistent mentor. According to the Tuscaloosa Bureau, their conversations go beyond running lanes and pad level, although these very likely come up, too.
"He doesn't want my head to get big or get overwhelmed about it," Richardson said. "That's one thing I do applaud him on, not just bringing it up. That is my brother and he expects me not to get complacent and to stay humble with it."
Given his performance this season, there has surely been plenty to swell Richardson's head. The 5'11, 224 pound Florida native has overshadowed all other SEC running backs with an astounding average of 131.9 rushing yards per game (ranked 5th in the nation). He carried the ball 263 times, rushed for 1,583 yards and 20 touchdowns. He caught 27 passes for 327 yards and recorded three receiving touchdowns, as well. His total yards from scrimmage account for more than one-third of Alabama's total offensive yards this season. Not bad, right?
In his first year as the starter, Richardson racked up those gaudy stats while playing seven of the top 50 defenses in the nation, five of the top 50 rushing defenses and five top-20 total defenses.
Just a few years after Ingram became the first Alabama player to win the Heisman, Richardson arrives in New York as one of the top candidates for the prize after leading Alabama to an 11-1 record and a spot in the BCS Championship game.
Playing the backup role behind Ingram for two years, Richardson had to wait for his chance to shine while running for fewer yards in two seasons combined than he did in 2011 (1,451). That's not to say, though, that he didn't show some flashes of brilliance in his years as the second-stringer. And Ingram knew it. Playing against Arkansas as a freshman, Richardson steamrolled his way to an eye-opening 52-yard touchdown with his fourth carry of the game.
"He broke like seven tackles and then took it up the sideline for like 40 yards," Ingram said, via Fox News. "I was like, 'Yeah, that's not really normal.' I figured that we had a special guy."
Even when suck behind Ingram on the depth chart, Richardson never complained (at least not publicly) about playing second-fiddle for two years. He always put his team first and always gave credit to his offensive line for what success he was able to have.
Earlier this week, Alabama left tackle Barrett Jones called Richardson the "ultimate teammate" and sounded as if he was honored to block for him. Coach Nick Saban similarly gushed about the good example he sets and his compassion for the other players on the team.
Earlier this week, Richardson won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back, something no other Alabama back has ever won. On Saturday, he may be given another piece of hardware to put an exclamation point on his sensational year.
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