Who's up for some more REC-related paranoia? Big news on the recruiting trails this afternoon, as Alabama has flipped Daphne tailback TJ Yeldon from Auburn. Per Shane Youngblood:
Yeldon had originally committed to Auburn back in mid-June and had been a seemingly solid commitment for several months. Alabama pursued him all along, but he seemed unwilling to budge, and many were still pessimistic even after he took an official visit to Tuscaloosa two weeks ago. Rumors had been swirling about his commitment in recent weeks, but even so this one comes as a big and very welcomed surprise. Irrational REC conspiracy theories aside, you have to imagine that Auburn's offensive implosion this season combined with the departure of Gus Malzahn likely tipped the scales in favor of the Tide. Additionally, Yeldon is the teammate and close friend of Alabama commitment Ryan Anderson, and undoubtedly that also helped 'Bama flip the Daphne product.
In terms of recruiting flips, this is realistically about as big as you will see. Yeldon was a star player at Daphne as a sophomore and a junior, accumulating approximately 3,000 yards from scrimmage and 40 touchdowns against the state's top competition, but he has exploded on the recruiting scene with a monster senior season that saw him post over 2,000 yards while going deep into the 6A state playoffs. Last weekend he had 153 yards and three touchdowns to lead Alabama to a win over Mississippi in the annual Alabama v. Mississippi All-Star Game, garnering MVP honors along the way. During that time his recruitment has effectively exploded, and with him looking to enroll in a matter of weeks it's no surprise that he sports offers from effectively every major program in the country.
Even notwithstanding the fact that Nick Saban managed to poach away a key prospect from Auburn, Yeldon will help shore up tailback depth immediately in Tuscaloosa. With Trent Richardson certain to declare early for the NFL Draft in the weeks ahead and Eddie Lacy likely to do so next season, there has been somewhat of a murky outlook at tailback, especially given that Dee Hart and 2012 tailback commitment Justin Taylor are both recovering from ACL injuries. Having Yeldon on campus, though, makes much of those concerns go away.
Furthermore, as an added bonus, Yeldon is slated to enroll early, thus reducing the possibility of Auburn wooing him back and putting him on campus to go through the winter strength-and-condition program and all of spring practice.
Yeldon becomes the 23rd commitment of the 2012 recruiting class.
Addendum: The obligatory YouTube:
Addendum II: Yeldon has released a prepared statement discussing his decision. The full text, per Don Kauser, Jr.:
"Over the last few weeks, I've really put a lot of time and thought into where I want to go to school and continue my football career. I am blessed to be in a situation where I have several great opportunities and I appreciate everyone involved who has helped me get to this point.
"I want to make an announcement so I can put this behind me and get to work on the things I need to do to prepare for college both athletically and academically. I am going to enroll at the University of Alabama in January.
"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. I am 100 percent confident with my final decision. I feel great about it and I'm excited to get started."
Final thought: Travis Reier makes a great point on Twitter: Yeldon flips to Alabama the day before the dead period begins and the dead period extends through the start of spring classes. Highly unlikely that is just a random coincidence, and that probably eliminates any chance Auburn would have otherwise had of re-flipping Yeldon.