Texas A&M football spring position preview: Running backs need an alpha to emerge

The three-headed monster approach at RB was great in theory but had less-than-stellar results for Texas A&M football in 2023. Who can assert themselves?
Nov 4, 2023; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Texas A&M Aggies running back Le'Veon Moss (8) runs the
Nov 4, 2023; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Texas A&M Aggies running back Le'Veon Moss (8) runs the / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M football spring position preview: The Aggies need a top option at the running back position

It truly felt like Texas A&M football had an embarrassment of riches at tailback coming into last year. Sophomore Le'Veon Moss had shown some great stuff down the stretch of the previous year. Junior Amari Daniels had explosive potential. Freshman Rueben Owens was immensely talented and ready to contribute.

While none of those evaluations were wrong, per se, the position as a whole was somewhat underwhelming for the season. The Aggies only ended up mustering 1401 total yards and 14 total touchdowns from the top three backs in 13 games last year, and were good for 4.64 YPC.

Those aren't really bad numbers, but they're not what you might expect out of a unit with the talent that the Aggies had—though, of course, that could be said of nearly every position group on the team last year. For reference, in one fewer game in the previous season, the top three options—Achane, Daniels, and Moss—combined for about 100 more yards on about 50 fewer carries (though they had fewer touchdowns).

The main difference? Well, obviously, there's a huge one. But aside from losing the talent of Achane, I think there's something to be said for having a top option to carry the ball.

There were times last year where I thought Moss would certainly emerge as that guy. During the Ole Miss game, he began to nigh impose his will on the game before the disappointing end to the contest. Injuries late in the year hampered his progress, however, and he was unable to grab the reins as the top guy.

As we move into spring, though, I think this could be Moss's year. He has it all: the ability to run through contact, to stop and start suddenly, to make people miss... He's the most complete back on this roster. If he can put it all together, the Aggie run game will be scary to deal with.

2023 also showed that Amari Daniels can be very off and on as a player. There are times where you see him out there and he looks patently unremarkable. Then, he breaks a run into the open field and dazzles with his explosion and feel to get defenders off-balance. That said, the inconsistency is something that makes me feel as though he is better suited to a backup role for A&M—unless, of course, he is able to bottle and unleash that side of him that gets all the highlights.

Rueben Owens is an interesting case. When he gets room to run, you see why he was ranked as a five-star: the guy practically glides along the ground. However, in 2023, he had the lowest YPC average of the top three options at only 3.81.

He particularly struggled in running through contact; shedding tackles is a must for a top-end back, and he simply wasn't good enough in that regard last year. Pass blocking showed similar issues. Hopefully Tommy Moffitt's offseason strength training can help Owens in that regard.

Stanford transfer EJ Smith is an intriguing option to keep your eye on here as well. The son of the NFL's all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, EJ nearly committed to the Aggies before choosing Stanford out of high school. Now that he's back in Aggieland, he brings a versatile skillset. He is nearly as good of a receiver as he is a tailback, making him a piece that new OC Collin Klein can move all over the field in different formations.

There is once again a lot of talent in the backfield for Texas A&M football. You'd love to utilize each and every one of these guys in different situations—and with the offensive scheme that Collin Klein brings to the table, I believe you can. But you still need a top option—a workhorse—if this Texas A&M football team is going to reach their potential offensively. This spring will go a long way in determining who that number one option is going to be.