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Alabama's Next Big Surprise: Eddie Lacy, Redshirt Freshman Running Back

Larry BurtonSenior Writer IFebruary 18, 2010

Larry Burton (Panama City Beach, Fl) Eddie Lacy was a high school star from Dutchtown High School in Geismar, Louisiana.

One has to admire Eddie Lacy's decision to come to the University of Alabama. When he signed, he knew Glenn coffee was the main man, he is now in the NFL, and he knew that Mark Ingram was the star in waiting, and boy was he. Lastly he knew that he would be butting heads with fellow freshman Trent Richardson, the nation's most sought after running back.

So despite LSU, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Ole Miss and others still begging him to come to their programs, he chose to go where the sailing would not be smooth.

He chose Alabama.

He was injured his senior season in high school and only played in seven games, so that took him down to 4-stars and dropped his ranking to the 13th best running back in the nation. As a junior he rushed for over 1800 yards but only just over a thousand his senior season.

If that wasn't enough strikes against him, there were some initial problems academically that delayed him joining the team until the first day of preseason practice. This put him behind the rest of the team who was coming off winter conditioning and spring training.

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He wasn't in his best playing shape. In a recent interview with Gentry Estes of the Mobile Press Register he said, "Yeah, not being here for the summer workouts did set me back a bit, because I wasn't able to get in shape like all the other players. So I was already a step behind and trying to pick up the pace of the game."

Therefore that left him taking a redshirt year, but it didn't turn out all bad for him.

When you're talented and being redshirted, that means one thing, the Scout Team and running against the No. 1 defense to prepare them for the next week's game. That gets you in shape in a hurry, if you don't get smashed first.

He may not have started the season in the best of shape, but he quickly gained his groove back and soon had the first team defense grasping at empty air when they weren't being dragged down the field by him or simply run over by this running back who is best described as a "downhill power runner".

During last season I was interviewing Corey Reamer and I asked about Eddie Lacy and he said, "That's a guy who's going to make a name for himself here. He's a handful and can be quite a hard runner to bring down, and if he gets a step on you, he's gone."

He's exactly the kind of running back Nick Saban likes. The speed to go the distance and the power to drag or knock a tackler all the way to the first down marker on tough runs.

In other words, in a freakish occurrence of recruiting, Nick Saban now has three running backs that could interchange with one another without a drop-off in performance.

So what does Eddie Lacy think about his chances for playing time coming this year behind a Heisman Trophy winner and perhaps a future one?

"I've still got to get in better shape, continue to learn the system better and refine my blocking techniques because nobody plays running back for Nick Saban without being able to pick up blitzes and properly block. If I accomplish this over spring, I'll get some carries." Lacy said.

"One thing that every person on this team knows is that you prepare like a starter because nobody is sure when their opportunity comes up. Roy Upchurch was third string last year and got a start, so we all know anything can happen." Eddie continued.

Other teams will soon learn that indeed anything can happen and especially when Lacy is running at them. With the rare ability to weave through them, or lower his head and power out a first down, he will be a surprise only at the start of the season.

Then he'll be just another reason to dread facing the Crimson Tide.

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