Texas A&M Football: RB Tra Carson Is One of Most Underrated SEC Players

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterMay 21, 2014

Texas A&M RB Tra Carson
Texas A&M RB Tra CarsonL.G. Patterson/Associated Press

One quick glance at any list of top offensive players in the SEC and you'll get a good glimpse of where the power in the conference lies in 2014.

Running back.

Georgia's Todd Gurley, South Carolina's Mike Davis, Arkansas' Alex Collins and Alabama's duo of T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry are bona fide stars in the SEC. But who could join them at the big-boy table once the season starts? 

Texas A&M RB Tra Carson
Texas A&M RB Tra CarsonScott Halleran/Getty Images

Texas A&M running back Tra Carson isn't a player who will be discussed in preseason All-SEC circles, but don't be surprised if that changes in a hurry.

The 6'0", 230-pound native of Texarkana, Texas, who transferred to Texas A&M from Oregon following the 2011 season was primarily a short-yardage and goal-line back in the crowded A&M backfield last season, rushing 62 times for 329 yards and seven touchdowns.

That was in a group that included Ben Malena, Trey Williams and Brandon Williams. Malena was the de facto feature back of that group, rushing for 551 yards and 10 touchdowns in addition to the 759 rushing yards former quarterback Johnny Manziel chewed up last year.

Texas A&M RB Tra Carson
Texas A&M RB Tra CarsonUSA TODAY Sports

With Malena and Manziel gone, who's going to gobble up his carries?

Carson is a good candidate.

In limited action down the stretch, he rushed for 60 yards on 10 carries over Texas A&M's final two games of the season and showed flashes of what he's capable of as a feature back.

As you can see from the highlight video above (which, indeed, is set to Hanson's "MMMBop"...just go with it), he has the power to drop a shoulder and run through defenders between the tackles. 

But he isn't just a bruiser. When he gets to the second level, he's light on his feet and gives defenders that one shoulder—which they usually bounce right off of.

In space, he's dangerous. He showed his straight-line speed in his 21-yard touchdown run in the third quarter vs. Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl (1:34 mark). He's also a capable receiver out of the backfield who's shifty in space and able to elude defenders (0:54 mark).

Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle opined after A&M's spring practice that Carson may be the true No. 1 when toe meets leather for the Aggies' opener vs. South Carolina on Aug. 28.

Afternoon RT Aggies' starting running back to start season? My Monopoly money is on Tra Carson (Column): http://t.co/BFjR5Kvuga

— Brent Zwerneman (@BrentZwerneman) April 11, 2014

Head coach Kevin Sumlin has a rich man's problem at running back in 2014. He lost his primary two producers but returns a talented stable of running backs, all of whom have potential as specialists and feature backs.

Whether it's Kyle Allen or Kenny Hill taking the snaps, the new quarterback will have to have a reliable rushing attack to take some pressure off. Don't be surprised if the Aggie offense evolves into more of a power-rushing attack.

Carson's versatility makes him a prime candidate to become a star in 2014.


Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com.