COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- When it comes to health, the last two seasons have not been kind to Christine Michael.
The Texas A&M senior running back, who arrived in College Station as a high school All-American out Beaumont (Texas) West Brook High, has displayed plenty of the ability that made him such a highly touted recruit, but in the last two years, he hasn't been able to finish a season on his own terms. A broken leg (2010) and ACL tear (2011) cut short the previous two seasons.
Michael is determined to finish his career with a strong senior season and is practicing with no limitations or restrictions during the Aggies' fall training camp.
"It's a blessing that I'm back on the field," Michael said. "It's a blessing to be able to contribute to the team. My mindset right now is just getting through the season and contribute to the team as much as possible, catch everything, run hard, know my assignment and just help out."
Running backs coach Clarence McKinney said he hasn't had to worry about taking it easy on Michael through the first five days of camp.
"He's not limited at all," McKinney said. "He has not missed one drill, hasn't missed a rep and he's going full on contact. We're glad he's back."
Not only is Michael without limitations, coach Kevin Sumlin has been impressed with what Michael has shown in practices.
"I'm real excited. I think he is too," Sumlin said. "I think he's got an energy level. Every now and then, he'll run the ball and I hear him scream and it's just a yell that he's pretty happy to open that thing up. He's made a couple cuts that I wasn't sure he could make in the last couple of days ... and I was like 'wow.'"
Michael is the senior leader of a talented backfield. Among those who will have a chance to take some of the workload off Michael's plate is junior Ben Malena, who started the final two games last season, and freshman Trey Williams, who is small (5-foot-8, 185), but explosive.
The team is still awaiting word on the waiver status of Brandon Williams, who transferred from Oklahoma, to see whether he'll be eligible. Both he and Tra Carson (Oregon transfer, sitting out this fall), have also been productive in fall camp according to the coaches and players.
Even though Michael is the leader, don't expect him to get all the carries. Sumlin has used multiple backs in his offense both as an assistant at Oklahoma and as a head coach at Houston.
"From our standpoint, bad things happen to running backs when they get tired," Sumlin said. "They either get hurt or they turn the ball over, or both. So running backs quickly understand their ability to stay fresh throughout the year is important."
As for Michael, he said he hasn't dwelled on what could have been the last two years. Last season he was on his way to his first 1,000-yard season before the knee injury knocked him out after nine games and 899 yards. He spent the offseason rehabilitating not only to be healthy for this season but to be physically ready for the Aggies' first season in the Southeastern Conference.
"My motto is 'no days off,'" Michael said. "Every time I'm in the weight room, I'm doing something that's helping me get my knees stronger or anything in that aspect, just working on everything so I can get my whole body stronger so I can take (hits) from this big league."