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Despite Richardson’s physical style, coach Nick Saban scoffs at labeling him a “bruiser”.

“You’re talking about a guy to me that shouldn’t be pigeonholed into a guy that is a bruising back because to me he’s so much more,” Saban said. “He’s a great leader on our team. He’s a hard worker. He sets a great example. He cares about the other players on the team. He’s certainly a very, very productive, competitive guy who has been probably as good a player as I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach in terms of the whole package.

“Bruising back would be an insult to what he is, even though he does that pretty well, too, because he’s tough and he’s physical.”

Richardson made a strong final statement with a career-best 203-yard game in the final romp against Auburn. It also provided a so-called “Heisman moment,” when he halted his momentum and straight-armed a defender on the sideline then raced across the field for a 57-yarder.

Against Mississippi, he shed two tacklers, cut over to the right sideline and stopped short to shake one defender around the 10 before sprinting to the end zone to punctuate a 76-yard run.

“That was awesome,” Jones said. “The Iron Bowl run was awesome, too, but the Ole Miss run where he did the little move at the end, that was a lot of fun to watch.”

Richardson also had a solid overall effort against No. 1 LSU. He ran 23 times for 89 yards and had five catches for 80 yards.

Richardson’s nine 100-yard rushing games ties Ingram for the school record. He’s only 75 yards shy of the Alabama mark set by Ingram two years ago in one extra outing _ the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Richardson is also a finalist for the Maxwell Award as player of the year and the Doak Walker Award given to the nation’s top running back.

The lone drawback to all these awards: Flying. The back that fearlessly smashes into 230-pound linebackers can’t stand it.

“I really just start praying before I get on and when I get on just go from there,” Richardson said. “I start sweating, and it’s just a big mess, for real. I haven’t gotten over it yet, but I’m used to flying. Just when it takes off and when they be about to land, it’s crazy.”

Richardson, Tim Tebow and Cam Newton are the only SEC players to rush for 20 touchdowns in a season, and those two quarterbacks are Heisman winners.

Alabama has cited the quality of defenses Richardson has faced in promoting his candidacy. He has faced eight defenses ranked among the nation’s Top 51, and the school says no other Heisman contender went against more than five.

The thickly-muscled Richardson doesn’t hesitate when asked about what drives him: Daughters Taliyah, 5, and Elevara, 3, and his mother. He says he is “just happy to be out there making everybody smile,” but especially them.

“I want them to know that their dad’s just out there trying, and he’s trying to do the best for them for the future that they don’t have to worry about anything,” Richardson said. “I’m just really motivated for my kids and my mom, because my mom’s been working her whole life. One day I want her to stop working. When that time comes, and I’m sure it’s going to come, I can’t wait to put that smile on my momma’s face.”

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