Trayveon Williams ran through the back of the Auburn end zone after a 38-yard touchdown run, got to the first row and shook hands with a seated fan. I’m not sure if it was an A&M fan, but one thing was clear.
Williams was feeling it.
When the Texas A&M tailback is feeling it, he’s one of the top backs in the country. Fortunately for the Aggies, he’s been feeling it a lot this year. He can take over a game in an instant, and he can do so in a variety of ways. Twice this season, Williams had games in which he ran for 100-plus yards while catching 5-plus balls for at least 70 yards.
The latest of those games was last Saturday at Auburn, where it looked like Williams’ brilliance was going to lead the Aggies to a victory. That is, until they squandered a 10-point lead in the final 5 minutes.
Miscues down the stretch spoiled what was easily one of the top performances we’ve seen from any SEC running back this season. That’s becoming a more common theme for Williams in Year 1 in Jimbo Fisher’s offense.
If we’re voting today, Williams is a first-team All-SEC back, and I’m not really sure that’s much of a debate.
For all the talk about the development of Kellen Mond with Fisher, it’s clear that Williams has been the engine that starts the offense this year.
Before Saturday’s prolific effort, Williams averaged 29.3 yards in A&M losses and 147.2 yards in A&M wins. Granted, the 3 losses were against elite defenses in Alabama, Clemson and Mississippi State. Going off and still losing to Auburn was the outlier. Usually when Williams is rolling like that, the Aggies are in good shape.
Maybe it’s the fact that Williams is finally getting to play with a fullback, which had him giddy this offseason. Williams, as he did on his 38-yard scamper and handshake celebration run, was untouched thanks to having a lead blocker to follow out of the backfield.
Remember his walk-off touchdown against Kentucky? It took a perfect kick-out block from fullback Cullen Gillaspia on midseason All-American Josh Allen to make that play happen:
NOTHING was stopping Trayveon Williams on this overtime TD 😤
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 7, 2018
That was the other aforementioned game in which Williams racked up 100-plus rushing yards while catching at least 5 passes for 70-plus yards. His counterpart that night, Benny Snell Jr., is the only SEC running back with more rushing yards than Williams’ 931, which is already 133 yards better than his 2017 total on 7 fewer carries.
Snell might be the other obvious choice to earn first-team All-SEC honors, but as great as he has been, he doesn’t have Williams’ versatility.
Williams leads all SEC backs in catches (22) and yards (257). He’s actually on pace to finish with the most receiving yards for an SEC running back since Alvin Kamara finished with 392 in 2016.
It’s interesting that when Williams had his career day to hand Kentucky its first loss, he said after the game that he showed why he’s one of the best backs in the SEC, “if not the best.” Perhaps that was throwing a little shade at Snell, who was outgained 210-78 that night (Williams actually outgained the entire Kentucky offense), but really, was Williams wrong?
In a year in which the likes of household names like D’Andre Swift and Damien Harris have disappointed from a cumulative production standpoint, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that Williams’ body of work needs to be recognized.
If Williams can finish strong and earn first-team all-conference honors, he’ll make a little history. Since joining the SEC in 2012, the Aggies have yet to have a running back even earn second-team All-SEC honors. Barring an injury or an epic collapse, I’d say Williams should at least have that in hand.
While Williams would probably trade wins over Clemson and Auburn for individual accolades, he’s certainly going to be worthy of praise. Looking back, it seems obvious why he was so excited to play in a new, running back-friendly offense. As long as he’s in College Station, Williams will inevitably keep following a fullback-paved path to pay dirt.
And maybe instead of just a touchdown and a handshake, he’ll pick up some hardware along the way.