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Yeldon makes the big play

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It was the biggest play in the biggest game of the year.

Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon caught a screen pass from quarterback A.J. McCarron and raced into the end zone with under a minute remaining to give the Crimson Tide a 21-17 win at LSU and preserve an unbeaten season and Southeastern Conference and BCS Championship goals.

Yeldon finished the game, in which the Tigers’ defense smothered the Tide offense at times, with 104 total yards, including 76 rushing on 11 carries and the game-winning 28-yard touchdown reception. Statistically, he’s had better games this season, but there was no performance bigger than Saturday. For his efforts, Yeldon is 247Sports National True Freshman of the Week.

It is the third time an Alabama player has been named National True Freshman of the Week this season. Tide receiver Amari Cooper was named twice for his performances on Sept. 29 and Oct. 20 in wins against Ole Miss and Tennessee.

Yeldon plays behind starter Eddie Lacy, who complimented his fellow running back for coming up with a “huge” play to win the game at the end. Yeldon was in for Lacy on the final, game-winning drive.

In a year where two true freshman backs at Georgia- Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, have garnered most of the headlines and where LSU’s Jeremy Hill is an emerging star, Yeldon has almost quietly had the best year of them all considering his production per touch. He leads the top-ranked Tide with 725 rushing yards on 104 carries (7.0 yards per carry) and has 122 receiving yards on eight receptions, including the big one Saturday night.

As a recruit, Yeldon ascended to five-star status after a special senior year at Daphne (Ala.) High, including one game where 247Sports analyst Barton Simmons was so impressed he immediately put him on his personal five-star list. His recruitment was an interesting one to follow. He was committed to Alabama’s in-state rival, Auburn, for most of the process. On Dec. 18, 2011, less than a month before he was to enroll at the school of his choice, he announced he would be heading to Tuscaloosa.

Yeldon was rated as a 99 by 247Sports, which equates to a five-star prospect. He was ranked as the nation’s No. 13 overall prospect, No. 2 running back and the top overall prospect in Alabama. According to the 247Composite, which equally weighs the prospect rankings and ratings of major media networks that cover recruiting, he was rated 0.9866, which equates to five stars. Yeldon was No. 29 overall, No. 2 at running back and No. 3 in Alabama, behind Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Chris Casher.

Check out Yeldon's player timeline

National True Freshmen of the Week- 247Sports

Oct. 27- Phillip Nelson, QB, Minnesota
Oct. 20- Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Oct. 13- Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
Oct. 6- Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State
Sept. 29- Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Sept. 22- Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Sept. 15- Rushel Shell, RB, Pittsburgh

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