Put yourself in the same company as Herschel Walker in Athens, and you’re doing something right.
Todd Gurley was a dominant running back for the Dawgs as a freshman, teaming with fellow classmate Keith Marshall to form, the second-best running back duo in the league.
Gurley rushed for 1,385 yards at 6.2 yards per carry and 17 touchdowns. He also returned a kick for a score.
What’s even more remarkable – and will be interesting to monitor in 2013 – is that Gurley was listed at 195 pounds in 2012. This year? 232.
He’s apparently added nearly 40 pounds to his frame! If he’s able to maintain his athleticism and straight-line speed, he could be entering the NFL with a prospect profile similar to that of former Rams and current Falcons running back, Steven Jackson.
6) C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama – Grade: 27.4 (9.3 T / 8.9 Prod / 9.2 Proj)
A consensus First-team All-American as a junior in 2012, Mosley wreaked havoc as the WLB in Nick Saban’s defense.
Missouri fans may remember him recording a career-high 12 tackles (nine solo) to go with a sack and fumble recovery in the Tide’s 42-10 win over Mizzou at Faurot Field.
After all was said and done in 2012, Mosley posted 107 tackles (8 TFL), 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, and returned one for a touchdown.
He will be coveted by NFL teams because of his production and leadership in Nick Saban’s defense. His sideline-to-sideline speed also makes him an effective blitzer and outstanding in coverage.
5) T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama – Grade: 28.0 (9.7 T / 8.6 Prod / 9.7 Proj)
Hard to imagine that a freshman running back could be ranked higher on this list than Georgia’s Gurley, but on a per-carry basis, Yeldon was just as productive and may be an even better NFL prospect.
Many feel like he is the most talented running back Nick Saban has ever had in Tuscaloosa, and Saban once had a No. 5 overall pick, Trent Richardson, in his backfield.
In fact, some scouts view Yeldon as an Adrian Peterson clone due to his running style, size and skill set.
Sharing duties in the backfield with Eddie Lacy – who was a first round pick of the Green Bay Packers in April – Yeldon ran for 1,108 yards and 12 TDs on only 175 carries in 2012.
With Lacy gone to the NFL, Yeldon could emerge as a legit Heisman challenger.
4) A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama – Grade: 28.1 (9.0 T / 9.9 Prod / 9.2 Proj)
Anyone who has quarterbacked back-to-back national champions is legit.
Yes, Alabama had the best offensive line in the country last season.
Yes, Alabama had the best running back duo in the country last season.
Yes, Alabama had the best defense in the country last season.
Yes, Alabama had the best head coach in college football last season.
These statements are all generally and widely regarded as facts.
But A.J. McCarron is still one of the best QBs in college football, despite all that he benefits from around him.
Last season, his game matured significantly and he showed the ability, when necessary, to make NFL-caliber reads, decisions, and throws.