Of Tim Tebow, T.J. Yeldon: reality bites
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Dec 19, 2011 | 8859 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Well, say this about a major commitment switch from Auburn to Alabama on Sunday — it got our little world talking about something besides Tim Tebow.

And talking, and talking and talking. Ad nauseum.

Twitter blew up. Mushroom clouds were seen over message boards covering Alabama and Auburn, and all over a teenager whose middle and last names are T.J. Yeldon.

His first name is “Five-Star Running Back.”

Or “Four-Star Running Back,” depending on the website profiteering from an obscene addiction to the whims of pre-college athletes.

If you’re an Alabama fan whose life seems better today because some anointed high school running back chose your school with the added benefit of shrinking your rival, get a grip.

Same for any Auburn fans who found the nearest ledge inviting.

And fill in your admonition to the sad soul who tweeted the following: “Would never wish this on anyone but TJ Yeldon, I hope you tear every ligament in your knee.”

The Twitter handle associated with this comment won’t be repeated here, but kudos to sports radio show host and former Auburn player Cole Cubelic for his response: “Pathetic.”

Accusations are flying. They’re what one would expect from the side that lost a major recruit to the rival school.

The accusations won’t be repeated here sans substantial news, and no, most paranoid of Auburn partisans, it’s not the same as media reporting on Cam Newton. There was an official NCAA investigation, and that’s called substantial news.

Always study two apples carefully. One might be an orange.

Since sanity is preferable to the opposite, let’s try to explain this latest bombshell from the always unofficial world of pre-signing day recruiting.

Yeldon’s flip likely has nothing to do with uncertainty over Auburn’s offense sans coordinator Gus Malzahn, who took the head-coaching job at Arkansas State last week. Alabama just lost its offensive coordinator, Jim McElwain, to Colorado State.

The change in Mr. Five Star’s allegiances could have something to do with Alabama’s depth at tailback, which is likely to thin when Heisman Trophy finalist Trent Richardson almost certainly declares for the NFL draft.

Auburn has no seniors that see playing time or likely high draft picks eligible for the next NFL draft, and Florida transfer Mike Blakely enters the picture next season. Stay tuned on suspended sophomore Michael Dyer’s status, and rumors have junior Onterio McCalebb interested in testing the pro market.

Early playing time is and will always be the most reliable predictor in the unscientific world of recruiting.

Then again, Alabama’s depth at running back has been apparent for months, and Yeldon committed to Auburn in June. Within the past week, he said publicly that he remained firm.

He also becomes the fourth high-profile recruit to make the Auburn-to-Alabama flip in the past 12 months. There was Darius Philon, and who can forget the February sagas of Brent Calloway and Cyrus Kouandjio?

Some will answer with a hail of conspiracy theories. Others will connect coincidences and claim bigger problems at Auburn.

Sunday’s statement attributed to Yeldon is measured and offers few clues.

“I have a lot of respect for Auburn, the coaches, and all of the people there, but at the end of the day I feel like the University of Alabama is the best situation and fit for me and my family,” he said

Here’s a thought. Yeldon most recently visited Alabama, and he’s a teenager whose swirling world is equal parts depth charts and peer pressure.

Absent proof of anything else, realism will have to do.

And for those too addicted to the recruiting game, Tebow and the Denver Broncos lost Sunday to New England Patriots. The Phenomenon met a stronger force called The Better Team.

Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or jmedley@annistonstar.com. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.

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