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August 23, 2012

Even without Williams, A&M solid at RB

Texas A&M announced Wednesday evening that sophomore running back Brandon Williams, a transfer from Oklahoma, had been denied a waiver to regain his eligibility for the 2012 football season.

The initial appeal was submitted and denied by the NCAA staff on August 2. Texas A&M appealed the staff decision on August 7 and the subcommittee for legislative relief denied the appeal on August 22.

"We appreciate the NCAA's consideration of our appeal in the case of Brandon Williams," Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "We knew this was a possibility and Brandon will continue to work out with our team and help our team get better. We look forward to him playing in maroon and white in 2013."

Due to waivers being granted for transfers in some well publicized instances, most notably Northwestern receiver Kyle Prater who transferred in the spring from USC, hopes had begun to run high Aggieland that Williams would be granted one as well. Although Williams saw a lot of action in A&M's last open scrimmage of August this past weekend and some took that to be a positive sign with the NCAA, the original appeal had occurred nearly three weeks ago and had been denied at that time. Williams now has to sit out the 2012 football season although he will still have three years of eligibility remaining.

Williams is originally from Brookshire and was ranked as a five star prospect by Rivals.com in the class of 2011 after a sterling career in which he had about 5,000 yards of total offense and over 50 touchdowns rushing and receiving. Williams signed with Oklahoma and saw limited playing time as a freshman before transferring to A&M in December 2011 to be closer to his young daughter.

Even so, the Aggies have multiple other options at the position despite the loss of Williams. Starting running back Christine Michael will be one of the top backs in the SEC this season. The 5 foot 11, 213 pound Michael is a physical specimen who combines track speed with the ability to run over people. A tough, physical runner, Michael has rushed for 2,374 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and 22 touchdowns. He has the size to be an every down back but has missed multiple games over the past two season to season ending injuries (a broken leg as a sophomore and a torn right ACL last fall).

Freshman Trey Williams was a five star prospect in the 2012 class and is a stout 5 foot 8 and 175 pounds. Williams was also a five star prospect coming out of high school and led Spring Dekaney to a state title as a senior after rushing for nearly 4,000 yards and 48 touchdowns. He has already made multiple big plays in scrimmages this month with his exceptional balance, low center of gravity, vision, acceleration, and the ability to play bigger than his listed size. While Michael fulfills the role of every down back, Williams is the change of pace home run hitter who can take screen passes and win one on one battles with defenders in space.

Junior Ben Malena started last season versus both Texas and Northwestern after season ending injuries to Michael and NFL draft pick Cyrus Gray. Malena is a low slung back who runs hard, excels in the nuances of the offense such as pass protection, and doesn't turn over the ball.

While Brandon Williams won't play for A&M this fall, he now makes it a trio of talented backs that will make their Aggie debuts in 2013. Oregon transfer Tra Carson, who has also been practicing with the team, and Pearland Dawson's James White will also be on hand, joining Malena (for a season) and Trey Williams to make up a strong stable of backs with different strengths. Depending on their productivity, the two Williamses, Carson and White could make the Aggie backfield one of the nation's best and most consistent for the next three seasons.


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