Texas A&M Aggies running back Ben Malena finally got some carries last season as a sophomore, and he received a significant amount of carries for the Agges in a late season cameo for the last two games of the season. Star running backs Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael both went down with injuries, and the 5’8″, 195 pound back carried the rock 48 times times with 83 and 77 yards in the final two games of the season against Texas and Northwestern respectively. In fact, Malena ran for two touchdowns in the victory over the Wildcats to end the season. He had ten catches in the final two games, including a touchdown catch against the Longhorns.
Coach Kevin Sumlin has been impressed with Ben Malena so far this spring, and the junior back has a slim chance at starting. Sumlin said, “Ben Malena is one of those guys we can count on.”
The Aggies are longjammed with talent at the running back position, which is a good problem to have. Senior Christine Michael returns and is one of the better backs in the nation. He is a consistent source of quality yardage and should be locked in as the starter. The Aggies added transfer Tra Carson, who is a very talented player and received a significant amount of carries last season as a true freshman for the Oregon Ducks. That’s impressive, considering the Ducks had the best trio of rushers in the nation with LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, and De’Anthony Thomas. He isn’t eligible for this season, but he will definitely be a factor in 2013.
Texas A&M also has incoming freshman Trey Williams, who is as heralded of a running back recruit as there is and could be in line for some touches. He is a five-star recruit, one of the best 15 recruits in the nation, one of the best three backs in the country, and one of the best three recruits from the state of Texas in the 2012 class. Yeah, he’s definitely a great prospect.
Brandon Williams is another transfer who came from Oklahoma and received 46 carries last year as a freshman. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry for 219 yards in total and was even more heralded than Trey Williams. The recruiting similarities are striking, as the only difference between the 2011 and 2012 running backs is that Brandon Williams was slightly better (14th best RB recruit in the nation by Rivals.com).
The Aggies have arguably the best running back situation in the league, and dividing up the carries will certainly be a difficult task for the coaching staff. Texas A&M is trying to obtain a waiver from the NCAA so that Brandon Williams will be eligible for this season, and he would battle for the No. 2 back position if eligible.
For now, Ben Malena’s solid end of season output and impressive spring have vaulted him into the No. 2 spot above freshman Trey Williams. The talent at running back is bountiful, as the team has three solid backs (four if you count Brandon), with two being game-changers (three if you count Brandon).
One thing going for Malena to receive more snaps and a larger role is the fact that he is arguably the best running back in college football as a pass protector. That’s an important and underrated skill to possess.
The Aggies are just stacked at running back and can run over any team in the Big 12. Kansas fans should beware, because the loss of Cyrus Gray is offset by the addition of Trey Williams, the rise of Malena, and the possible addition of Brandon Williams for the 2012 season.
Tags: Ben Malena Big 12 Brandon Williams Christine Michael Cyrus Gray De'Anthony Thomas Kansas Jayhawks Football Kenjon Barner Kevin Sumlin LaMichael James Northwestern Oklahoma Oregon Texas Texas A&M Tra Carson Trey Williams