Trey Williams gave up his senior year for the NFL, and Brandon Williams has moved to cornerback. Those running backs combined for 939 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns last season, but even without them Texas A&M feels good about its running game.
Sophomore James White is a big reason why.
White, who took a redshirt in 2013, had a solid freshman season, rushing for 153 yards on 22 carries with three touchdowns. His 7.0 average per carry was the best on the team for those with more than one carry, and he didn't get caught behind the line of scrimmage once in his limited chances to touch the ball.
Now White is primed for a huge season. He's changed his eating habits, avoiding fatty and fried foods to shed some body fat off his 218-pound frame.
"I feel great. I'm able to run with that weight," White said, adding that he's also more comfortable with the offense and his blocking assignments.
White was listed as a tri-starter at running back coming out of spring drills with Tra Carson and Brandon Williams. But with Williams moving to defense, that leaves Carson as the most experienced running back, coming off a 124-carry, 581-yard season, and White as his backup if indeed Williams stays on defense.
"Tra Carson is our guy," White said. "He's the leader in the running back room. Just like [offensive tackle Germain Ifedi] and [center Mike Matthews], he keeps us accountable. I think with me and Tra in the backfield, that will be a pretty good tandem."
Carson, at 235 pounds, is bigger than his understudy but not by much.
"For his size, he can move very well," White said. "He has great foot work. I look at that, and I try to pretty much resemble that, because I'm a big guy myself. I look at that as I have to train myself in ways to be better. So when I look at him, it's how I want to be in the future."
White's future became very present with the decisions made by the Williamses.
"If those guys stayed ... you can't be scared of competition," White said. "But overall, I'm happy where I am now, and I'm just doing what they ask me to do."
A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said last week that freshman running back Kendall Bussey will get playing time, though Brandon Williams took a lot of snaps on offense in the spring because Carson didn't participate.
"The depth right now is three guys, but in the long run, it's four guys," Spavital said.
White knows his role is growing, and he spent the spring and summer preparing for it.
"I'm ready to roll," he said. "I just worked hard and it paid off a little bit for me, but I've still got a long way to go."
A&M has been changing its running approach since hiring Dave Christensen as line coach and running game coordinator. Improved physicality is a must.