TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama’s Trent Richardson wasn’t a starter when he arrived on the scene.
He was biding his time behind tailback Mark Ingram, who was on his way to becoming Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy winner. But Ingram thought the Crimson Tide might have another candidate waiting in the wings.
Then a freshman, Richardson broke four tackles en route to a 52-yard touchdown against Arkansas two years ago in a run that has only grown in the retelling.
“He broke like seven tackles and then took it up the sideline for like 40 yards,” Ingram recalled. “I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s not really normal.’ I figured that we had a special guy.”
A program that collected – by its own count – 12 national titles before fielding a Heisman Trophy winner now is hoping for its second in three seasons. Because of Ingram’s looming presence, Richardson was a star long before he was a starter.
Compact, powerful and with a sprinter’s burst, Richardson joins Louisiana State University cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball and quarterbacks Andrew Luck of Stanford and Robert Griffin III of Baylor as finalists for this year’s Heisman, which will be presented Saturday in New York.
“As a child you dream of winning the Heisman or MVP at any level, and now that it’s here and my team has worked hard for this, and I know I worked hard for it,” Richardson said.
“Just to represent for Alabama is going to be an honor for real, and to represent for (Florida hometown) Pensacola. It’s pretty big for me. My name will be in the books if I do win.”
Not bad for a first-year starter, who never let on publicly if he minded running in second place for two seasons. His handling of that situation endeared Richardson to teammates.
“The first word that comes to my head when I think of Trent is ‘teammate,’” Alabama left tackle Barrett Jones said. “He really is the ultimate teammate. Not many guys would have had the attitude he had these past two years.”