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Thursday, February 14, 2013
Position breakdown: Running backs

By Sam Khan Jr.

Before the 2012 season began, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin told any media member who would listen that the Aggies planned to use all three scholarship running backs they had at their disposal throughout the season.

That statement turned out to be true as Ben Malena, Christine Michael and Trey Williams all saw work.

Ben Malena
Ben Malena ended the Aggies' season as the starter at tailback.
With Michael having graduated and preparing for the NFL, the Aggies return two players from the trio in Malena (who started nine games) and Williams. And that backfield will become even more crowded this fall when sophomores Tra Carson and Brandon Williams join the mix.

Malena being the most experienced of the bunch likely will head into the first A&M spring football practice on March 2 as the starter once again. He finished last season averaging 5.9 yards per carry, a team-high among running backs and second on the team to quarterback Johnny Manziel (7.0).

In his junior season, Malena finished with 808 rushing yards and 111 receiving yards while also spending time on special teams covering kicks and punts. One of Malena's strengths, pass protection, also will help keep him in the lineup.

Trey Williams looks to expand on a freshman season that was light on touches but in which he showed flashes of the ability that made him a four-star ESPN 150 recruit in the class of 2012. Williams averaged 5.8 yards per carry (387 rushing yards on 65 carries). He also occasionally saw passes thrown his way (12 catches for 171 yards), averaging 13.2 yards per reception.

Brandon Williams and Carson are the wild cards here. Both practiced with the team but sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules (Carson transferred from Oregon; Williams from Oklahoma).

Williams, from Brookshire (Texas) Royal, brings some explosiveness with his six-foot, 192-pound frame. As the No. 35 player in the 2011 ESPN 150, Williams was known for his speed, acceleration and vision and should be a dynamic addition to the backfield and a possible big-play back.

Carson brings size and plenty of it -- Sumlin said Carson is around 235-240 pounds now. The Texarkana (Texas) Liberty-Eylau product should give the Aggies a solid between-the-tackles presence in the running game with his size. Should he find his way into the lineup this fall, his power and physical presence could make him an effective weapon late in games when the Aggies have worn opponents down with their high-tempo offense.

After using three backs in 2012, there's reason to believe Sumlin and new offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney will utilize their multiple backs again in 2013.