Alabama RB Trent Richardson drawing Heisman buzz

By John Zenor

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Oct. 17 2011 3:56 p.m. MDT

Alabama running back Trent Richardson (3) scores a touchdown during the first quarter past Mississippi's Marcus Temple( 4) and Serderius Bryant (14) in an NCAA college football game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss. on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011.

Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman) MAGS OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, Associated Press

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Teammates were not all that impressed with Trent Richardson's stutter-stepping 76-yard touchdown run against Mississippi that is being hailed as a possible Heisman moment for the Alabama running back.

Especially some of those on defense.

"That move he made, pretty much he does that move every day in practice," said Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson. "It's nothing new to us. We say all the time, 'Oh, somebody else got victimized.'"

The run was the most spectacular highlight of a streak which has ignited talk that No. 2 Alabama could have its second Heisman Trophy-winning tailback in three years.

Richardson, however, brushes off Heisman talk.

"I don't really pay attention to that stuff," he said after the Ole Miss game. "It's been so long since I've watched SportsCenter. I don't even look at that, for real."

But it's hard to ignore his stats.

Richardson has tied Shaun Alexander's 12-year-old school record with six consecutive 100-yard rushing performances and collected his second Southeastern Conference offensive player of the week honor of the past month on Monday.

The 17-carry, 183-yard, four-touchdown effort at Ole Miss was the third time he has topped his career high for rushing yards already this season. Then there was the run that showed the between-the-tackles bruiser's speed and elusiveness.

"I really was sort of amazed at not only the ability to make the run but the tenacity and toughness that Trent played with the entire game," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "He'd be the first guy to talk about the offensive line, and probably all the other yards that he gained, he gained some on his own but they did a good job of blocking on those plays.

"But they kind of had us on that play and he made a great individual effort to make people miss. That's what great players do; they kind of make plays above and beyond, and he certainly did that on that occasion."

It's not enough to make Alabama fans start wondering "Who Dat?" about current New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram, but Richardson is ahead of Ingram's pace through seven games during his 2009 Heisman Trophy season.

Ingram was the first Heisman winner in Alabama's storied history, but the Tide may not have to wait that long for No. 2.

Richardson's 912 rushing yards is seven more than Ingram, but he has 15 touchdowns compared to Ingram's eight during that span. He's third nationally in scoring and fourth in rushing after gaining just 37 yards in the opener against Kent State.

Rival Tennessee is the next defense to try to keep Richardson in double-digit yards Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Volunteers linebacker Austin Johnson even suspects Richardson is better than Ingram, who he shared carries with the past two years.

"They're different backs, but Trent Richardson kind of developed into his own pretty early," Johnson said. "He brings a little bit more than what Mark Ingram did. Mark Ingram is obviously an unbelievable back, first-round pick, but I think Trent Richardson is going to be that top back for them. I think he's better than him."

The 76-yarder was worth checking out. Three guys had a shot at him at the line of scrimmage, then he raced downfield and juked a defender with a stutter step.

"That was ridiculous," is Tide linebacker Dont'a Hightower's assessment.

Richardson said he thinks his best run was a 49-yard touchdown early in the national championship game two seasons ago but says "there's more to come."

As for the final move, "I had to get in the end zone some type of way," he said. "I couldn't let those blocks go to waste."

Saban's much more interested in hearing that kind of talk than about a potential Heisman candidacy and says he doesn't think Richardson cares about it either.

"Trent's a great player," Saban said. "He's one of the best players in the country. Whatever awards they give at the end of the season, he certainly should be considered for any and all of them that he qualifies for. But for right now, we're thinking about what we need to do right now. We're not even concerned about that stuff."

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