John Adams: Trent Richardson having Heisman season

Vols talk about Bama RB Trent Richardson

The Heisman Trophy competition is so top-heavy with quarterbacks, you might wonder if there's room for anyone else.

Stanford's Andrew Luck has an unbeaten team behind him and his NFL draft-coronation ahead.

Robert Griffin of Baylor, Case Keenum of Houston, and Seth Doege of Texas Tech all are averaging more than 374 yards per game in total offense.

Oklahoma's Landry Jones isn't far behind, and the Sooners' No. 1 ranking in the coaches poll won't hurt his chances.

Russell Wilson leads the country in passing efficiency and is getting much of the credit for Wisconsin's unbeaten season.

Michigan's Denard Robinson already has rushed for more than 700 yards and passed for more than 1,100.

They're all worthy candidates. But if Alabama running back Trent Richardson keeps playing the way he has, he will be No. 1 on my Heisman ballot.

Not only is he having a dominant season. He's dominating in a conference renowned for defense.

He never looked more dominant than last week. Richardson, who will become Tennessee's problem this Saturday, scored four touchdowns, rushed for 183 yards and averaged 10.8 yards per carry in Alabama's 52-7 victory over Ole Miss. He looked like a college running back going against a high school defense.

Ole Miss' defense might be bad. But it's not as bad as Richardson made it look.

The statistics didn't adequately measure the disparity between the runner and the defenders trying to tackle him. You had to see The Run to appreciate what a mismatch this was. It covered 76 yards and embarrassed about half the Ole Miss defense in the process.

"He had some sweet moves there," UT senior linebacker Austin Johnson said. "That guy can pull some moves out of his hat.

"He's in a category all of his own, because he has all those tools. He's physical, he can move, he can pass block. He just a great back all-around."

That wasn't Richardson's first college high

light. In fact, his freshman run against Arkansas was just as impressive, if not as long as the one against Ole Miss. He shoved one Hog out of bounds, broke four other tackles and outran a final defender for a 52-yard touchdown.

His combination of speed and power is reminiscent of the 1980s, when Georgia's Herschel Walker and then Auburn's Bo Jackson were capable of making the nation's best defensive conference look like the WAC.

Yet despite Richardson's fast start and prominent role on outstanding teams, you could say that he was overlooked and underused his first two seasons at Alabama.

For two years, he was the backup to 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. Even as he entered this season without Ingram, South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore was rated ahead of him in some circles after rushing for 1,197 yards and scoring 17 touchdowns as a freshman.

There's no comparison after Saturday. Lattimore suffered a season-ending knee injury on the same day Richardson had a career game.

Oregon's LaMichael James has gained more publicity and yards per game. He's a spectacular open-field runner. But Richardson doesn't need an open field or a Pac-12 defense. All he needs is the ball.

Forget those highlight videos. Richardson could make a name for himself just by consistently moving the pile of humanity at the line of scrimmage with Walker-like force.

I didn't vote for Ingram when he won the Heisman — in part, because I didn't think he was the best running back on his own team.

Richardson was better than Ingram then. He's better than everybody else now.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 16

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

IMO, he is better than Ingram, but no disrespect to Ingram because he was a great RB in his own right.

Smokey says he will give respect where it is due..

TheStupidPolice writes:

He's a great player, but he shouldn't even be invited to New York.

DannyVol writes:

Pay no mind to this man. He voted for Tebow his senior year when he received the fewest votes of any contender by a longshot. Probably did it to get under the skin of his readership...like he does with everything else.

born2ride writes:

And I suppose Adams would say Charles Woodson deserved it over Manning.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

in response to born2ride:

And I suppose Adams would say Charles Woodson deserved it over Manning.

You got that right. Who turned out to be the better Pro player? Well, while I think that every team would love to have Woodson, the Colts cant win a single game without Manning. The Packers would still be undefeated without Woodson.

SummittsCourt writes:

Vols D holds Richardson to under 50 yards rushing ending his Heisman run. I can see it, can you?

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Vols D holds Richardson to under 50 yards rushing ending his Heisman run. I can see it, can you?

Surely you jest. I am a Vol fan but the kids might hold him to 50 yds, in the FIRST HALF.

15_counting writes:

in response to snuffysmiff:

Surely you jest. I am a Vol fan but the kids might hold him to 50 yds, in the FIRST HALF.

Richardson gets 150+. He broke a guys ankle and wrist last week against Ole Miss and never touched the guy! Oh yeah Lacy will add another 80+.

CrankE writes:

To quote Nick, "I couldn't give a Saban."

GO VOLS
FIRE JOHN ADAMS

hamneggs writes:

I believe Richardson is the best running back in the country. Unfortunately, Alabama is so deep with superior talent that if you take Richardson off the team it would not hurt as much as a Stanford and their q-back. That is the main criteria Hman voters look for, how much does the player matter in the teams success.

Volunatic writes:

I agree fully-- he is a truly dominant RB.
It's amazing that Rivals and Scout both rated Bryce Brown ahead of him.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

I agree fully-- he is a truly dominant RB.
It's amazing that Rivals and Scout both rated Bryce Brown ahead of him.

Just to show that I don't claim to be right all the time about everything and can admit it when I am shown to be wrong, I posted on here a couple of years ago that Bryce Brown would have a better career than Richardson. I would have to say, after seeing him run all over everyone in sight for the last couple of years, that Richardson is one of the five or so most impressive RBs I have ever seen, in any era, at every level of competition. His combination of size, speed, agility, and competitiveness compares favorably, at this point in his career, with the best there have ever been. If he got as many carries as Herschel Walker, for example, he would break every record in the book.

murrayvol writes:

in response to TheStupidPolice:

He's a great player, but he shouldn't even be invited to New York.

Drop the "Police" and voila.

He may not win the Heisman, and I doubt that he gives a rat's a*#, but he will be invited to New York.

murrayvol writes:

He'll be the first running back taken in the draft.

Volunatic writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Just to show that I don't claim to be right all the time about everything and can admit it when I am shown to be wrong, I posted on here a couple of years ago that Bryce Brown would have a better career than Richardson. I would have to say, after seeing him run all over everyone in sight for the last couple of years, that Richardson is one of the five or so most impressive RBs I have ever seen, in any era, at every level of competition. His combination of size, speed, agility, and competitiveness compares favorably, at this point in his career, with the best there have ever been. If he got as many carries as Herschel Walker, for example, he would break every record in the book.

No shame in being wrong. (Admitting it proves you aren't a troll.)
I had no idea which one was going to be better back then, but I didn't think the answer was going to be SO obvious.
I did think it was a great recruiting coup when the Vols got Bryce Brown. I have since returned my crystal ball to Costco.

murrayvol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Just to show that I don't claim to be right all the time about everything and can admit it when I am shown to be wrong, I posted on here a couple of years ago that Bryce Brown would have a better career than Richardson. I would have to say, after seeing him run all over everyone in sight for the last couple of years, that Richardson is one of the five or so most impressive RBs I have ever seen, in any era, at every level of competition. His combination of size, speed, agility, and competitiveness compares favorably, at this point in his career, with the best there have ever been. If he got as many carries as Herschel Walker, for example, he would break every record in the book.

Not to mention the bones of many opponents.

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