In a trend that has been common the past couple years, Alabama has landed a big-time recruit that had been previously committed to the Auburn Tigers. T.J. Yeldon is set to enroll at Alabama next month.
AL.com has confirmed the switch, one that is sure to leave a sour taste in the mouths of Auburn fans as the losses of Cyrus Kouandjio and Brent Calloway are still fresh in their minds.
Cyrus and Calloway were both committed to Auburn (Calloway had previously been committed to Alabama for an extended period of time), likely a result of the limelight from the national championship. They both regained their senses and committed to Alabama, Cyrus doing so just days after giving the nod to Auburn.
Cyrus Kouandjio was a 5-star offensive tackle prospect, and Calloway was a 5-star linebacker prospect who truly wanted to play running back, which is what Auburn allegedly offered him.
Yeldon will be the third 5-star prospect in less than a year that the Tide has absconded with from Auburn. Opponents of Yeldon's decision will likely begin calling for an investigation as the trend seems to be more than mere coincidence. Their demands are certain to fall on deaf ears. Nick Saban runs a clean show.
T.J. had this to say regarding the situation:
"I have a lot of respect for Auburn, the coaches, and all of the people there, but at the end of the day I feel like the University of Alabama is the best situation and fit for me and my family. I am 100 percent confident with my final decision. I feel great about it and I'm excited to get started."
T.J.'s decision may be somewhat boggling to some, as Alabama's Demetrius "Dee" Hart will be a redshirt freshman next year after sitting out this year due to a torn ACL. Hart was also a 5-star running back prospect.
One has to wonder where the room is for two stud running backs, but further examination may answer any questions.
Hart is a smaller, scat-style running back. At only 5'8", 190 lbs. there have been questions on whether or not he could serve as Alabama's every-down back. He's a veritable weapon on runs and catching out of the backfield, but his physical limitations would prevent him from doing what Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram have done the past couple years.
There have been unconfirmed, dark rumors regarding Hart's time away from the team this season. Some have claimed it had something to do with pulling a knife on a teammate, but such rumors have so far been unfounded.
When Hart returned to the team, strength coach Scott Cochran seemed ecstatic, announcing Hart's arrival by shouting, "He's back in the building!", something unlikely had Hart attempted to stab somebody.
Alabama will have a new offensive coordinator next season. With both these players available, he very well may create some plays that involve both Yeldon and Hart on the field at the same time, creating dangerous questions opposing defenses would have trouble answering.
Auburn will also have a new offensive coordinator next year, and the coaching carousel likely played a big part in Yeldon's switch.
T.J. made it clear that he is completely confident that he made the right switch, and a change like that mere weeks away from enrollment could not have come easy. A look at the timeline could indicate that he began to question his commitment the moment it was announced Auburn's offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was leaving.
Yeldon has been regarded as a great prospect for some time now, but his 116-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game cemented him as a "must have" running back prospect.
When it comes to running backs, Nick Saban and company seem to get what they want. They pulled Mark Ingram from the state of Michigan, Trent Richardson from the state of Florida, Eddie Lacy from Louisiana and Dee Hart, who was committed to the Michigan Wolverines, from Florida.
T.J. Yeldon's switch has come as a surprise to everyone, but further investigation proves it was the right choice for him—and he agrees. He has filled the void in Alabama's 2012 class that lacked a highly-touted running back, something uncharacteristic in recent years.
Only time will tell if Yeldon can continue the trend of Alabama pumping out supreme NFL-quality backs year in and year out, but his future looks so bright that he may need to wear shades.