Texas A&M Aggies running back Brandon Williams has been denied a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play this season, according to Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle. He plans to use his redshirt for the 2012 season.
Williams transferred to Texas A&M from Oklahoma after his freshman season in 2011, when he carried the ball 46 times for 219 yards. After redshirting in 2012, Williams will have three seasons of eligibility remaining for the Aggies. According to Zwerneman, Williams will continue to work out with the team.
The talented running back from Brookshire, Texas, and signed with the Oklahoma Sooners after being named the No. 3 running back in the 2011 recruiting class by Scout.com.
While the five-star sophomore sits, senior running back Christine Michael looks to carry the load in his absence as the Aggies enter the SEC. Michael rushed for 899 yards and eight touchdowns as Texas A&M's second backfield option last season.
Texas A&M's Saturday scrimmage left head coach Kevin Sumlin "disappointed" with the energy on display less than two weeks before the Aggies' 2012 season opener.
Sumlin was worried about his team's energy on Saturday, saying, "We're not good enough to just go out and play football and go through the motions," Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle reported. "We have to play with energy."
Eight practices in the last five days may have sapped the A&M players, and backups and younger players featured in most of the scrimmage in an effort to get them reps on Kyle Field before the opener.
As for true freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, ESPN's Sam Khan Jr. reports he ran the first-team offense, just days after Sumlin announced that he would be the Aggies' starter. Manziel will have a soft road opening to the 2012 season, with A&M traveling to Louisiana Tech for a Thursday night game Aug. 30, but the Aggies host Florida and Will Muschamp's fearsome defense in their home opener and first SEC game Sept. 8.
The Aggies underachieved last season with a 6-6 record but still have the same talent that made them a preseason top 20 team. Four of those six losses came by four points or fewer and were aided by bad luck. Connelly says with even neutral luck, that could turn into a 10-2 record.
Offense will be the key. Besides returning seven starters, incoming offensive-minded coach Kevin Sumlin is inheriting a few of great offensive weapons, and the Aggies still have one of the best offensive lines in the country. Working against the team's favor, though, is the lack of a Case Keenum-type passer and the fact that you need a stout defense to compete in the SEC.
Granted, that bad luck and coulda-woulda-shoulda 2011 season was in the Big 12. Logic suggests that by higher-level competition alone, it's tough to say the Aggies' record will reflect their talent potential. But while Connelly doesn't explicitly say the Aggies will be better in 2012, there is evidence to suggest they could be a darkhorse.