Tide's Richardson a star in his own right

Now that Alabama has one Heisman Trophy on display, thanks to Mark Ingram's memorable 2009 season, could No. 2 be too far behind?

And better yet, is it too outlandish to think that Ingram’s backup could be the one winning it?

Trent Richardson is that good, that explosive and that talented. If Ingram is the best running back in college football, Richardson would make a strong case as the second best back.

Before it’s all over, he may well find himself at the top of that list.

Talk about good problems to have.

Alabama’s only concern offensively entering the 2010 season is finding enough carries for both Ingram and Richardson, and it doesn’t sound like it’s really a concern at all.

“We shouldn’t be anything but a headache for other teams,” said Ingram, noting that the two-back system makes both of them better.

In other words, Alabama always has a fresh, NFL-caliber back pounding away and pulling away from the opposing defense.

“Whenever I’m tired, he’s coming in fresh,” Ingram said. “Whenever he’s tired, I’m coming back in fresh. That defense is going to have a fresh pair of legs coming at it all game, and all that’s going to do is make both of us better.

“They wear down, especially when it gets in the fourth quarter. You can tell by their body language, and they don’t want to tackle you anymore. That’s how we play as a team. We want to wear teams down. The wide receivers play that way. The offensive line plays that way, and we play that way.”

The 5-foot-11, 220-pound Richardson is coming off a freshman season in which he rushed for 751 yards and eight touchdowns. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry and possesses that perfect blend of power and speed.

He’s had an exceptional offseason in the weight room and will be even more difficult to tackle in 2010. But over and above his ability as a runner, Richardson figures to broaden his entire game as a sophomore.

“I think his knowledge, experience, confidence and tremendous ability … all those things have improved tremendously,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “He’s a great team guy, a hard worker and really does a great job for us. He really has some great leadership skills, and I think all his teammates would agree.”

The best thing Ingram and Richardson have going is the genuine respect they have for each other.

They combined for 416 carries last season. Ingram had 271 and Richardson 145. There’s a good chance those carries will be more evenly distributed next season. But even if they’re not, nobody’s complaining.

“They both know it’s important for our team that both of them play well,” Saban said.

It won’t stop with just Ingram and Richardson next season, either. The Crimson Tide will also unveil redshirt freshman Eddie Lacy as a third option.

For a lot of teams, he’d be the No. 1 option.

But Alabama isn’t a lot of teams, not with Ingram and Richardson back there turning missed tackles into touchdowns.