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June 8, 2012TUSCALOOSA | Trent Richardson was Alabama's No. 1 tailback for only one season, but it was impressive enough that the junior from Pensacola, Fla., was selected as the Alabama Amateur Athlete of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.
Richardson and other athletes of the year in various categories will be among those recognized at the ASWA's annual awards banquet in Birmingham on Sunday.
"I am extremely honored to be named the Amateur Athlete of the Year by the Alabama sports writers," Richardson said. "I enjoyed working with the writers that covered Alabama, and I'm honored they have recognized me. This is an award that I would not be receiving if it wasn't for my teammates at Alabama, my offensive line and coaches especially, and I want to thank them."
Although officially the backup to 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram in 2009 and 2010, it was more appropriate to consider Richardson as Ingram's sidekick.
With Ingram leaving Alabama following his junior year, Richardson took over as the Tide's top back and helped Alabama to a 12-1 record and the 2011 national championship. In his junior season, Richardson finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting, behind quarterbacks Andrew Luck of Stanford and Heisman winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor and.
Richardson was Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year as voted by SEC coaches.
"Trent has the rare combination of not only being a great player, but a real quality person at the same time," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "He did an outstanding job of representing the University of Alabama, his family and himself during his three years here. His commitment to excellence, both on and off the field, has been a great example for others. Everyone knows the kind of football player Trent is, but he was also very involved in the community and very successful academically. He had one of the top grade point averages on the team, and was ahead of schedule to graduate before declaring for the draft.
"He's a fantastic team player and was extremely productive against some of the best defenses in the country. The respect everyone on the team had for him was evident when the other players voted him a team captain. It is a great honor to be named the top amateur athlete in the state of Alabama and this recognition for Trent is certainly well deserved."
The numbers are spectacular, but there is more to Richardson's career and to his Athlete of the Year season. It started in 2009 against Arkansas when he had a 52-yard touchdown run. Also as a freshman he rushed for over 100 yards and had a 49-yard touchdown run in the national championship win over Texas at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. As a sophomore in 2010 he had a 20-yard reception for a touchdown in Alabama's comeback win against Arkansas in Fayetteville.
And in his junior season he had highlight play after highlight play, including:
- A 76-yard touchdown run against Ole Miss in Oxford in which he broke a handful of tackles and finished with a juke move that froze the last defenders as Richardson scooted into the end zone.
- A 57-yard run against Auburn in which he stiff-armed one defender out of bounds.
- On the final touch of his college career, he burst 34 yards for a touchdown as Alabama closed out the scoring in a 21-0 win over LSU for the national championship at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.
Following the win over Auburn, in which Richardson had 27 runs for 203 yards, Saban called him "the best football player in the country."
Richardson holds Crimson Tide records for rushing yards (1,689), rushing touchdowns (21), and all-purpose yards (2,083) in a season. He tied Alabama and SEC records with 24 total touchdowns.
In 2011, Richardson led the SEC in rushing with 283 carries for 1,679 yards, 5.9 yards per rush, and 129.2 yards per game. Richardson was tops in the conference in all-purpose yards with 1,679 rushing, 338 on pass receptions, and 66 on kickoff returns for 2,083, an average of 160.2 per game.
Richardson led the league in scoring with 144 points on 24 touchdowns, 11.1 per game.
Richardson was winner of the Doak Walker Award (a first for a Tide player) as the nation's best running back, and a unanimous first-team All-America in 2011.
Richardson was also selected by his teammates as a permanent captain along with Mark Barron and Dont'a Hightower in 2011.
The Cleveland Browns traded their first, fourth, fifth, and seventh-round 2012 picks with the Minnesota Vikings for the third overall selection in this year's NFL Draft in order to take Richardson.
It was the second consecutive year for an Alabama running back to be selected. Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner (and ASWA Amateur Athlete of the Year), was taken in the first round by New Orleans last year.