College Sports: Texas A&M RB Outlook for the 2018 college football season: Can a second consistent contributor emerge in the backfield for the Aggies?

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By

Alex Miller , Texas A&M blogger


It was tough sledding for the Texas A&M running backs in 2017 as nagging injuries and O-line struggles hindered what was expected to be a successful rushing attack from reaching its full potential.

The Aggies lose their workhorse, Keith Ford, but also return shifty speedster Trayveon Williams, who now has two years of starter snaps under his belt.

Here is an outlook at the A&M backfield for 2018: 

Key Returnees: Trayveon Williams (Junior, 6-0, 200; 733 yards, 166 carries, 7 TDs,), Kendall Bussey (Junior, 5-9, 200; 237 yards, 46 carries, 1 TD), Jacob Kibodi (Sophomore, 6-2, 210; 119 yards, 10 carries, 1 TD)

Key Losses: Keith Ford (graduation)

Newcomers: Jashaun Corbin (5-11, 195), Vernon Jackson (6-3, 240), Deneric Prince (6-1, 196), Charles Strong (6-1, 220)

Biggest Unanswered Question: Can another running back, particularly one with more size, emerge as a consistent contributor behind Trayveon Williams? Jacob Kibodi saw sparing action as a freshman, which could cause A&M to turn to a true freshman to handle short-distance carries.

Why 2018 production could be better: With two years as a starter under his belt, including one as a team captain, Williams is now an upperclassman that has been tested. Over his first two seasons, Williams game has expanded from being a juking jackrabbit to a running back that can lower a shoulder and be productive in the passing game. Additionally, the Aggies boast considerable depth in the backfield, which could create a solid rotation. 

Why 2018 production could be worse: There currently is no proven commodity behind Williams, and the Aggies will likely lean on a true freshman to receive important carries. If a back with size does not develop and emerge in the ground game, it could be tough going for A&M’s rushing attack. Another item to investigate is the development of the Aggie O-line, which was a key factor in A&M’s inability to utilize a pair of very talented running backs last year.

Overall Outlook: One would expect Williams to receive the majority of the carries as his game becomes even more dynamic. That said, the Aggies should be able to find a powerback with three options — Jackson, Kibodi and Strong — who can contribute in short-yardage situations. Bussey should also continue to give the Aggies a spark off the bench, as he did last season, and relieve Williams some as games progress. Up front, A&M returns its entire offensive line, so one should expect some improvement in the trenches to provide holes to run through.

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