Alabama will close out the 2012 season in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game in Miami on Jan. 7, and some of the team's stars have already begun planning for life after South Beach.
According to Tony Pauline of SI.com, star running back Eddie Lacy and right tackle D.J. Fluker will forgo their senior seasons and enter the 2013 NFL draft following the BCS National Championship Game.
Sources have confided RB's Giovani Bernard/UNC & Eddie Lacy/Alabama will enter the draft...DJ Fluker/T/Albama will follow suit— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) December 12, 2012
It isn't exactly surprising news.
Lacy finished the season finished the season with 184 carries for 1,182 yards and 16 touchdowns—tied with Georgia running back Todd Gurley for the most rushing touchdowns in the SEC by a running back. His accomplishments earned him first-team All-SEC honors from the SEC coaches.
Fluker was a stalwart on the right side of the stellar offensive line, plowing the road for Lacy and fellow running back T.J. Yeldon en route to being named a second-team Associated Press All-American.
So where does Alabama go from here?
Rising sophomore T.J. Yeldon will undoubtedly assume the feature-back role after rushing for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2012. The 6'2", 216-pounder proved that he can take the pounding between the tackles and make defenders miss in open space outside.
Behind Yeldon, rising sophomore Kenyon Drake will likely get plenty of touches after rushing for 273 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman. He should be joined by Dee Hart, who missed most of the season after suffering a torn ACL in the Ole Miss game in late September, as well as bruiser Jalston Fowler—who also is recovering from a knee injury.
But don't forget about Derrick Henry, the 6'3", 238-pound prospect from Yulee (Fla.) High School who set the national career high school rushing record with 12,121 yards.
If there's one thing we know about Alabama head coach Nick Saban, he's not afraid to trot true freshman running backs out. Yeldon, Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram all made impacts as true freshmen in Tuscaloosa.
Fluker will likely be replaced by Austin Shepherd, a 6'5", 312-pound rising junior who backed up Fluker in 2012. But don't be surprised if 6'5", 300-pounder Brandon Greene or early commit Leon Brown push for playing time.
Running back and offensive line are two spots where Alabama just keeps churning out stars. Don't expect that to change when Lacy and Fluker take their talents to Sundays.