TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — T.J. Yeldon might be top-ranked Alabama's next great tailback but that doesn't mean he's eager to chat about it.
The Crimson Tide's reticent runner said he doesn't like doing media interviews and that he seldom gets recognized on campus. Chatty or not, it probably won't be possible for Yeldon to maintain that low profile as he takes over the lead role in 'Bama's backfield after shining on national stages as a freshman.
"I just don't really like talking," Yeldon said. "But I can't run from it, so I get used to it. It doesn't bother me now."
He isn't running from his ambition to be the best Alabama tailback ever.
Yeldon follows BCS championship game MVP Eddie Lacy, who replaced 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist Trent Richardson, who succeeded 2009 Heisman winner Mark Ingram. Richardson and Ingram have turned in the top two single-season rushing performances in school history and been first-round NFL draft picks.
There's little doubt Yeldon can be another strong link in that chain.
The Crimson Tide are ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason college football poll that was released Saturday and Yeldon will play a major role in their attempt to become the first team to win three straight national titles.
He set Alabama's freshman record with 1,108 yards and finished with huge performances in the SEC and national title games. One thing Yeldon isn't shy about is his ambition to outshine his recent predecessors and other Tide tailbacks like former NFL MVP Shaun Alexander and Bobby Humphrey.
"I'm always going to be motivated," he said. "I'm just trying to be the best I can be, the best running back to ever come through here."
Yeldon arrived in Tuscaloosa in January 2012 — after initially committing to rival Auburn — as a coveted recruit. He captivated fans with an MVP performance in the spring game and became the first Alabama freshman to debut with a 100-yard performance on national TV against Michigan.
He racked up 153 yards against Georgia in the SEC title game and followed that with 108 yards against Notre Dame. Coach Nick Saban said he's "a complete player" who knows the offense and can block and catch, too.
"We expect him to have a great year," Saban said, "and we're hopeful that he'll be able to stay healthy."
Coaches and teammates unanimously responded with "quiet" when asked to describe Yeldon's personality but also say he has a funny side.