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Five Freshmen of Influence

After looking like anything but a true freshman against LSU, TJ Yeldon takes over the top spot.

Each week during the 2012 season, BOL highlights five freshmen -- either redshirt or true -- who are making strong contributions for the Crimson Tide. Here are the top five following Alabama's 21-17 win over LSU:

1.] RB TJ Yeldon (last week: 2)
LSU: In addition to winning touchdown reception, Yeldon rushed for 76 yards, giving him 433 in his last four games. Averaging eight yards per carry over that span. Blitz pickup on third play of winning drive gave AJ McCarron time to find Kevin Norwood for 11 yards and a first down. Lone touchdown was his sixth in last four games. Offensive player of the game honors from CBS.
Season to date: Averaging 87.7 rushing yards per game in SEC play, a total that ranks fourth among league backs. Has piled up 725 rushing yards in nine games, a total that is just behind freshman numbers for Mark Ingram (728 yards in 2008) and Trent Richardson (751 yards in 2009). Player of the week honors from the UA coaching staff following win over Mississippi State.

2.] WR Amari Cooper (1)
LSU: Due in large part to an ankle injury, consecutive games with a reception streak ended at eight in Baton Rouge.
Season to date: Appeared in all nine games, making a team-high 32 receptions for 472 yards and five touchdowns. Has caught 27 passes over the last six games. Hauled in 399 yards worth of passes during that span. Two-time 247sports National Freshman of the Week selection.

3.] DE DJ Pettway (not ranked)
LSU: Saw action in UA's short yardage package, which led to the redshirt freshmen assisting on one of the Crimson Tide's biggest defensive plays of the season. With LSU facing fourth-and-1 from the UA 24 in the fourth quarter, Pettway teamed with Adrian Hubbard to stop Spencer Ware short of a first down.
Season to date: Appeared in all nine games. Of his seven tackles, three have come behind the line of scrimmage. Also has 1.5 sacks.

4.] JLB Denzel Devall (5)
LSU: Louisiana native saw the field early against the Tigers but didn't scratch statistically. Playing time on game's biggest stage should prove invaluable for a young defender who figures prominently in this team's future plans.
Season to date: Appeared in every game, posting 11 total tackles, including three for loss, two sacks and one fumble recovery. Defensive player of the week honors from the UA coaching staff after posting two sacks against Mississippi State.

5.] WR/KR Cyrus Jones (3)
LSU: Lone punt return resulted in a second-quarter turnover after Jones muffed a Brad Wing punt. Decision to field bounding ball was sound, but execution didn't measure up.
Season to date: Played in seven games. Two receptions for 39 yards, with a long catch of 35 yards against Arkansas. Special teams player of the week honors from the UA coaching staff following win over Tennessee.

5.] S Landon Collins (5)
LSU: Combined with Trey DePriest to stop Michael Ford short of the LSU 20 on kickoff following what proved to be UA's winning score.
Season to date: Appeared in each of the first nine game games, recording eight total tackles, a punt block and a fumble recovery. One of three special teamers to earn player of the week honors from the UA coaching staff for their play against Missouri.

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