It’s easy for stars to get lost in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), much less its ever competitive western division, ultimately paving the way for a diamond in the rough. With names such as Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker, Emmitt Smith, Mark Ingram, and Leonard Fournette, the SEC has by far and away produced the best of talent at running back. That said, Mississippi State football has a name to add to that list. The Bulldogs have a superstar in the making by the name of Aeris “A-Train” Williams, ready to take the college football world by storm.
From the moment newly hired coach Joe Moorhead arrived in Starkville, Mississippi State’s ceiling skyrocketed, as 2018 will be a season of promise. Now under the stewardship of an offensive savant, Williams is in prime position to write his on history book. Hailing from West Point, the native Mississippian possesses the arsenal of weapons needed to succeed on the field. Also known for toughness and leadership, Williams does not shy away from a challenge, but rather enjoys when one comes his way.
Making the most of his 2016 introduction, Williams burst onto the scene with a purpose. While rushing for 720 yards with four touchdowns, he averaged 5.3 yards per carry. Also a threat in the receiving game, Williams added seven catches for 45 yards with an average of 6.4 yards per reception. Though the Bulldogs went 6-7, he made up for it with an impact many did not expect.
However, it may have been timing that was the eye-catching factor in Williams’s 2016 campaign, as he took over the Egg Bowl. Mississippi State had its way in Oxford, blowing out arch-rival Ole Miss 55-20, a more than unpredictable outcome. Williams torched the Rebels, rushing for 191 yards and finding the end zone twice. It was only fitting and the perfect place for a Bulldog to make their name.
A game as such propelled Williams into a world of his own. Each run was a heightened level of confidence with a fearless attitude throughout. When able to combine power, speed, and agility, a running back is nearly unstoppable. Williams displayed all three, but did so with an edge, shushing the Ole Miss crowd.
Picking up right where he left off, 2017 was something special, as Williams took on the role of workhorse. Another element to his game that many seem to overlook is relentlessness. Playing until the end and never letting up, Williams simply does his job to the best of his ability. As shown in two primetime match-ups against LSU and Alabama, he lit up Davis Wade Stadium, leaving it all on the field.
Anybody knows that no matter their record, both teams mentioned above are a challenge and a half. In the midst of a surprising 37-7 eruption at home, Williams blazed through LSU’s defense, earning all 146 yards on the ground. There was no answer for him, as the cowbells were alive and well until the score went final. It was a night to remember, and one Williams did not take for granted.
Though resulting in a painful loss, it was the Alabama game that mattered most this past season. It’s no secret that the Crimson Tide’s intimidating defense seems to improve year after year, scaring off opponents at will. Posting 97 yards and two touchdowns in the 31-24 defeat, Williams showed a rare level of toughness. Whether it be a winning or losing effort, there is no denying his level of perseverance in today’s game.
SEC backs including Alabama’s Najee Harris, Trayveon Williams of Texas A&M, and Kentucky’s 1,000 yard phenom Benny Snell Jr, all with the highest of ceilings, speak for the level of competition in college football’s most difficult conference. But A-train is more than capable of rising to the top. The Bulldogs have a great one in Williams, as his multifaceted game and personality go a long way.
Best described as a man amongst boys, he is poised for a career year. Overlooked yet again, Mississippi State wouldn’t have it any other way. With the right resources and requisite weapons at hand, Williams will be a premiere running back, possibly seeing his name among the nation’s best.