Alabama Football: Predicting Top Offensive Weapons for Crimson Tide in 2013
Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon will make the 2013 season his coming-out party, and he's not the only offensive playmaker who will bust out next season for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama's football program seems to get better every single year. Nick Saban must have some kind of magical jewel that allows him to bend the will of young phenoms.
Oh, wait. He does. And he has more than one: They're called NCAA championship rings.
So it's no surprise that every season gives birth to a new crop of superstars. Here are three names you need to know on Alabama's offense heading into the 2013 season.
T.J. Yeldon, Running Back
Yeldon is already a familiar name to fans of the Crimson Tide.
As a freshman in 2012, he opened up all our eyes to the possibilities of what he might accomplish once Eddie Lacy was no longer in his way. Yeldon rushed for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns on just 175 carries, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and one touchdown per every 14.6 carries.
Yeldon is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, too. He caught 11 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown in limited action last season, and now that he's going to be the main man for 'Bama's offense, you can expect those numbers to increase dramatically.
The biggest deterrent to Yeldon's success in 2013 will be the loss of three dominant offensive linemen, D.J. Fluker, Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones. Thankfully, Saban is just as adept at bringing in offensive linemen as he is with running backs, and there's a new crop of talent waiting to be unleashed next season.
Prediction: Yeldon will rush for 1,500-plus yards with 18-plus touchdowns and catch 30-plus passes for 350-plus yards and four-plus touchdowns.
Amari Cooper, Wide Receiver
Cooper led Alabama in receiving last season as a freshman, so it won't be a shock to see him do so again in his sophomore campaign.
He caught 59 passes for an even 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012, and the most impressive part about his season was that he got better as it wore on. Cooper and quarterback AJ McCarron developed some chemistry as the season wore on, leading to five times in which Cooper broke the 100-yard mark in his last eight games.
Give these two an offseason together and they're sure to continue building upon what was an impressive 2012 campaign.
And given the amount of help he's sure to receive next season with the return of Chris Black, DeAndrew White and Kevin Norwood, Cooper won't be bogged down by double-teams and will have plenty of opportunities to make big plays.
Prediction: Cooper will catch 75-plus passes for 1,200-plus yards and 12-plus touchdowns.
Kenyan Drake, Running Back
Nick Saban doesn't let just one guy take all the glory at the running back position.
Mark Ingram had Trent Richardson pushing him. Trent Richardson had Lacy pushing him. Lacy had Yeldon pushing him.
And now Yeldon will have Drake to contend with in 2013.
Drake put up impressive numbers in his freshman season behind Lacy and Yeldon, rushing for 281 yards and five touchdowns on just 42 carries.
He'll be brought in around the goal line to pound in touchdowns, and his 6.7 yards-per-carry average last year proves he's more than just a power back.
Drake will get plenty of chances to run the ball in 2013, and he'll be for 'Bama next season what Yeldon was in 2012.
Prediction: Drake will rush for 1,000-plus yards and 10-plus touchdowns.
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