Texas A&M Aggies: James White

Editor's note: This week we'll take a brief look at Texas A&M players who surprised us with their performances during spring practice, which wrapped up for the Aggies earlier this month.

Texas A&M isn't hurting for talent at running back. The Aggies have had strong depth at the position since coach Kevin Sumlin arrived.

This season is no different. Even though one back graduated (Ben Malena), three lettermen return from a season ago: Tra Carson, Brandon Williams and Trey Williams.

But it's the fourth scholarship back, one who redshirted a season ago, who opened eyes during spring football for the Aggies: James White.

"I think the surprise has been James White," Sumlin said in late March. "He has really come on to be pretty solid. He's a guy that's going to play special teams for us this year and then we'll see where he fits in this group. James does everything pretty good. He's big enough at 215, 220 [pounds]. He has soft hands, is a good runner, a good blocker, so he's another guy that gives us a mix."

Because of the presence of three players who have SEC experience in Carson and the Williamses, there likely won't be many spare carries to go around, but White has shown he can contribute in several ways. While working on special teams, White has been part of the kickoff return team in a role similar to that of Malena the past two seasons and Carson last season.

At 6-foot, 218 pounds, White has good size and a wide range of skills to go with that size. The depth and versatility he can provide will be welcome in the SEC, where the Aggies have shown it isn't easy to get through a season without incident. Last season, Carson, Brandon Williams and Trey Williams all missed at least two games while recovering from injuries. All four active scholarship backs on the roster were used last season. Don't be surprised if that's the case this fall, too.

Throughout the spring, White showed he's ready to contribute.

"He's picked up on the offense," running backs coach Clarence McKinney said. "The tools are there. He can run the ball, he's big, he's physical, he can catch it as well as any of those guys. Just learning the offense and protection is really important for him to pick up right now."
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Running back is one of positions on Texas A&M's roster with few, if any, real question marks or concerns heading into 2014.

There is talent and depth. Most of the returning players have experience. The main question might be which player emerges as the most reliable and productive.

The candidates are plenty, though, and that's pleasing to head coach Kevin Sumlin.

[+] EnlargeTra Carson
Nelson Chenault/USA TODAY SportsTra Carson has had a good spring, but still faces plenty of competition to be Texas A&M's first-string running back.
"We feel real good with our depth at running back," Sumlin said.

Junior running back Tra Carson has been the most consistent of the group this spring. Sumlin has praised his work several times in recent weeks, and the 6-foot, 230-pound Carson seems to be positioning himself well for the fall.

"I think Tra Carson has been very, very solid," Sumlin said. "I think James White has progressed and is probably a little bit further ahead than I thought he would be. Brandon Williams is doing well. Trey Williams -- they're all good backs. It depends on what you want to do."

Both Trey Williams and Brandon Williams had to miss brief portions of spring practice with minor injuries, but they have returned. Sumlin noted earlier this spring, particularly when Trey Williams was out, that every day he missed was "not helping his cause." Since returning, both have been able to shoulder more of the workload in practice.

"Trey's healthy and has been involved in the return game, obviously," Sumlin said. "Brandon has come back. We worked Tra Carson pretty hard early. Those guys missed a little bit, so Tra Carson's getting a little bit of a rest right now and they're catching up. But we know what we've got in those three guys."

Trey Williams is the returning yardage leader of the group, with 407 yards and six touchdowns on 58 carries last season. Carson is the returning leader in touchdowns (7) and logged 329 yards on 62 carries in 2013. Brandon Williams contributed but didn't play as much as Carson or Tra Williams, logging 44 carries for 269 yards and a score.

But with Malena (115 carries last season) gone, there are carries available. It's reasonable to expect the returning trio will get more carries, but don't count out White, a redshirt freshman, being a factor as well based on his spring performance.

"I think the surprise has been James White," Sumlin said. "He has really come on to be pretty solid. He's a guy that's going to play special teams for us this year, and then we'll see where he fits in this group. James does everything pretty good. He's big enough at 215, 220 [pounds]. He has soft hands, is a good runner, a good blocker, so he's another guy that gives us a mix."

Sumlin expects all of them to push each other as the Aggies wrap up spring practice and continue preparing for the 2014 season.

"That competition will continue and they know that," he said. "It's good for all of us to have to compete for playing time, and that's what happens in a real program."
Editor's note: This is the third part in a weeklong series of predictions for Texas A&M spring football practice, which begins on Friday.

Texas A&M is not hurting for talent at running back.

It is perhaps the deepest position on the Aggies' roster and typically has been since Kevin Sumlin arrived prior to the 2012 season. The team has consistently used a rotation of running backs and that is likely to be the case this season, with the junior trio of Tra Carson, Trey Williams and Brandon Williams all returning and redshirt freshman James White joining the fray.

The previous two seasons saw Ben Malena emerge as the No. 1 running back in terms of workload and total production, but Malena has bid Aggieland farewell.

With Malena gone (as well as quarterback Johnny Manziel, who led the team in rushes each of his two seasons as quarterback), there are many carries up for grabs for the returning backs. Who will get the lion's share this fall?

[+] EnlargeTra Carson
Nelson Chenault/USA TODAY SportsTra Carson's combination of size and speed make him a prime candidate to become Texas A&M's featured running back.
That can be a game-to-game, or even series-to-series, decision for the offensive coaching staff because all of the above names are talented. But if I had to guess which back might emerge as the next one to lead the Aggies in rushing attempts, Carson comes to mind.

He's the biggest back of the group, checking in at 6-foot-1 and around 235 pounds. He showed the ability last season to not only be a short-yardage back, but also illustrated his knack for getting larger chunks of yards by consistently breaking tackles.

The Texarkana (Texas) Liberty-Eylau product will never be confused with Trey Williams or Brandon Williams in terms of pure speed, so it would be unreasonable to expect him to start breaking off 60-yard runs. But he had a carry of 10 or more yards in eight of the 11 games in which he appeared last season, including touchdown runs of 29 yards and 21 yards in the final two games of the season. He finished last season with 329 yards and seven touchdowns on 62 carries.

His size and physicality makes him an ideal between-the-tackles back, and running backs coach Clarence McKinney noted last season that Carson has the best hands of the running back group. So even though he hasn't been used much in the passing game (Carson had three catches last season), McKinney's words suggest that Carson can fill that role when needed.

Trey Williams (58 carries, 407 yards, six touchdowns in 2013) is probably the most elusive back of the group and showed that in several opportunities last season. He'll continue to be a significant part of the Aggies' attack and likely could see his touches increase also with Malena and Manziel gone. His smaller frame (5-8, 195) is something to keep in mind when it comes to workload, however, and Williams has dealt with nagging injuries throughout his A&M career.

Brandon Williams had a lot in terms of expectations going into last season, but a foot injury during preseason camp disrupted his season's start. Once he got on the field, carries came sparingly (44 attempts). But he has appealing speed and playmaking ability, so it will be interesting to see how his workload is affected and where he winds up in the pecking order.

In A&M's uptempo offense, there is no such thing as an "every-down back," though Malena was as close to one as the Aggies had the last two seasons. I'm betting Carson is the most likely to emerge as the next one in that role this spring and fall.

Aggies land another ESPN Jr. 300 RB 

August, 21, 2013
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When Splendora (Texas) High School running back Jay Bradford displayed his elite speed for Texas A&M coaches at a June camp, the Aggies' staff knew he was something special.

And after already landing one ESPN Junior 300 running back, the Aggies added another when Bradford committed to Texas A&M on Wednesday night.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound back became the third commitment in Texas A&M's 2015 class, giving his pledge to Kevin Sumlin. Splendora track coach and assistant football coach Randy Pope confirmed the news to GigEmNation via text message.

Coach's take: RB James White 

May, 23, 2013
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"Coach's take" is a series which allows GigEmNation to offer readers a closer look at the incoming recruits in Texas A&M's 2013 class by visiting with someone who coached the player or coached against him. Today, we take a look at three-star running back James White of Pearland (Texas) Dawson by visiting with his head coach, Eric Wells.

The 6-foot, 210-pound White was ranked 52nd nationally among running backs in the 2013 class. As a senior, he rushed for 2,185 yards and 28 touchdowns on 284 carries. That followed a junior season that consisted of 1,840 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was a first-team all-state selection as a senior.

Here's Wells' take on White:

GigEmNation: What was your first impression of White when he first entered your program?

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Introducing the class: James White 

May, 16, 2013
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"Introducing the class" is a series in which GigEmNation conducts a Q&A session with each of the incoming recruits in Texas A&M's 2013 class to give readers a closer look at each player individually. Today, we visit with Pearland (Texas) Dawson running back James White.

White, a 6-foot, 210-pound propect, was a three-star recruit who ranked 52nd nationally at his position. As a senior, he rushed for 2,185 yards and 28 touchdowns on 284 carries. That followed a junior season in which he amassed 1,840 yards and 23 touchdowns.

White was a first-team all-state selection and a first-team All-Greater Houston choice by the Houston Chronicle. Here's our Q&A with him:


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GigEmNation signing day blog

February, 6, 2013
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Welcome to GigEmNation's live coverage of national signing day for the Texas A&M Aggies. We'll be with you throughout the day providing up-to-the minute updates on A&M's class of 2013.

Watch live coverage on ESPNU | 2013 Texas A&M recruiting class

(Read full post)

RB James White 'thrilled' to be an Aggie 

December, 17, 2012
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HOUSTON -- The season didn't end quite the way he and his Pearland (Texas) Dawson teammates would have preferred, but running back James White had a memorable year.

The 6-foot, 210-pound three-star running back was one of Greater Houston's top ballcarriers, compiling a whopping 2,185 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns on 284 carries for the 12-1 Eagles, who finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in Texas Class 4A but had their season cut short in the third round of the state playoffs.

The Texas A&M commitment was honored for his stellar season as one of 10 finalists for the Touchdown Club of Houston's Dick Peebles Offensive Player of the Year award.

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A&M recruits not worried about Kingsbury 

December, 14, 2012
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Texas A&M had the nation's No. 3 offense in terms of offensive yards and scoring, so it's understandable if the loss of offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury is met with some concern.

[+] EnlargeKliff Kingsbury
Thomas Campbell/USA TODAY SportsKliff Kingsbury, a star quarterback at Texas Tech a decade ago, is returning to coach the Red Raiders.
But several recruits so far don't seem too worried about the Aggies when it comes to Kingsbury, who accepted the head coaching job at Texas Tech on Wednesday and was formally introduced Friday.

So far, the effect on recruiting doesn't appear to be negative. The fact that the Aggies received a commitment from a 2014 receiver just two days after Kingsbury left is a positive sign.

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Five from Friday: Garner plays big 

November, 25, 2012
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Each week, GigEmNation reporter Sam Khan Jr. will bring you five things he learned from watching high school football action in the Midlands region that week, including observations of Texas A&M commitments and targets and other players that catch his attention. Here's this week's installment:

[+] EnlargeTavares Garner
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comTavares Garner returned an interception for a score in Manvel's victory over Sugar Land Dulles.
1. Manvel (Texas) High School cornerback Tavares Garner has good ball skills and instincts. The 2013 Texas A&M commitment made a big play on the Mavericks' first defensive series, returning an interception 22 yards for a touchdown. He also made some key tackles and deflected a pass later in the game, but Sugar Land (Texas) Dulles quarterback Robert Harris mostly refrained from throwing Garner's direction after the pick-six. He turned in a good performance in his team's 39-26 second-round playoff win on Friday.

2. Garner's teammate, 2013 receiver Kyrion Parker, didn't get a lot of throws his way but was still able to make an impact. The Texas A&M pledge made a couple of big plays late in the game. One was blocking -- he did a good job of blocking on a fly sweep for teammate Austin Bennett, an Oklahoma commit, as Bennett went around Parker and scurried for a 39-yard gain to set up the next play, a 20-yard touchdown pass to Parker in the corner of the end zone.

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Focus on '14: Running backs 

November, 20, 2012
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GigEmNation is taking a weekly position-by-position look at the 2014 recruiting class as it relates to Texas A&M, who the Aggies are targeting, as well as 2013 commits and who on the roster will graduate. Today, we look at the running backs:

2013 commits: James White (Pearland, Texas/Dawson), Alex Sezer (Orange, Texas/Little Cypress-Mauriceville). Notably, Sezer will likely move to cornerback when he arrives at Texas A&M.

Running backs who will graduate: Christine Michael

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Each week GigEmNation takes a look some of the top performances from Texas A&M 2013 commits on the field from the previous weekend's action. Here's a glance at some of the best performances from the weekend of Nov. 15-17:

Kenny Hill, Southlake (Texas) Carroll: The quarterback was 16-of-17 passing, an impressive 94.1 percent completion rate, for 256 yards and three touchdown passes in addition to six carries for 137 rushing yards and two more scores in the Dragons' 65-7 win over Arlington (Texas) Martin in the first round of the Texas Class 5A Division I playoffs.

James White, Pearland (Texas) Dawson: The running back had 35 carries for 175 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles' 28-14 win over Richmond (Texas) Foster in the first round of the Texas Class 4A Division I playoffs.

LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Cedar Hill (Texas) High School: Gonzalez 15 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns in the Longhorns' 35-28 win over Copperas Cove (Texas) High School in the first round of the Texas Class 5A Division II playoffs.

Brett Wade, Kennedale (Texas) High School: The linebacker led a defensive effort that held Burkburnett (Texas) High School to just 34 offensive yards in the first three quarters before Kennedale sat its starters in a 68-0 win in the first round of the Texas Class 3A Division I playoffs.

Kameron Miles, Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite: Miles, a safety, also got some time on offense and had four carries for 30 yards and two touchdowns in his team's 33-25 loss to Frisco (Texas) Centennial in the first round of the Texas Class 4A Division I playoffs.
Each week GigEmNation takes a look some of the top performances from Texas A&M 2013 commits on the field from the previous weekend's action. Here's a glance at some of the best performances from the weekend of Nov. 8-10:

James White, Pearland (Texas) Dawson: The running back had 11 carries for 174 yards (an average of 15.8 yards a tote) and a touchdown in the Eagles' 56-14 win over Galena Park (Texas) High School. The Eagles finished their regular season 10-0 with the win.

LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Cedar Hill (Texas) High School: Gonzalez had 14 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown in the Longhorns' 27-26 win over Midlothian (Texas) High School.

Kenny Hill, Southlake (Texas) Carroll: The quarterback was 7-of-10 passing for 126 yards and two touchdowns and carried six times for 58 yards and two touchdowns in the Dragons' 56-17 win over Haltom (Texas) High School.

Kyrion Parker, Manvel (Texas) High School: The receiver caught three passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns in the Mavericks' 61-20 win over Pasadena (Texas) South Houston.

High school highlights: Stewart's big day 

November, 5, 2012
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Each week GigEmNation takes a look some of the top performances from Texas A&M 2013 commits on the field from the previous weekend's action. Here's a glance at some of the best performances from the weekend of Nov. 1-3:


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High school highlights: White hits 200 

October, 29, 2012
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Each week GigEmNation takes a look some of the top performances from Texas A&M 2013 commits on the field from the previous weekend's action. Here's a glance at some of the best performances from the weekend of Oct. 25-27:

James White, Pearland (Texas) Dawson: The running back had his third-consecutive 200-yard rushing performance, carrying 35 times for 203 yards and four touchdowns in the Eagles' 42-33 win over Friendswood (Texas) High School. White's squad is 8-0 and remains the state's no. 1 ranked team in Class 4A.


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