Billy Liucci of texags.com provided a fairly surprising tidbit of information regarding a position change for one of A&M's most physically talented players:
A&M coaches thinking outside the box...plan to make senior Brandon Williams @DaSlimC a two-way, 'Iron Man' player in 2015 at RB/CB— Billy Liucci (@billyliucci) May 4, 2015
This is a bit of a bombshell. Brandon Williams, a 5 star RB out of Brookshire who originally signed with Oklahoma out of high school. As a junior he rushed for 374 yards on 86 carries and had 9 catches for 65 yards in 2014 and was thought to be a key point to this year's (hopefully) revamped rushing attack under new run game coordinator Dave Christensen.
So is this good news or bad news? Time for some POINT/COUNTERPOINT.
THIS IS A BAD SIGN
I really like Brandon Williams. I think he's immensely talented and his attitude/energy are contagious. Obvious statement, but you either experiment with position changes because you can or because you have to. I think this move is a combination of the two--one one hand James White and Tra Carson are more than able to shoulder the load of our running attack--and maybe this makes the rotation a little less complicated. More on the positive side, Brandon Williams is pretty dang talented and has great size for a CB (6'1, 200).
However, this decision raises a few red flags. It is likely that this move happening immediately after spring ball is in reaction to less than stellar play at CB (which is really not all that surprising). The only proven CB we have on roster right now is Devante Harris. Admittedly I'm a Devante Harris fan (I might be the only one) and I think he's due for a breakout year this year. But beyond that we have a number of players who are talented but totally unproven. Noel Ellis showed signs of being able to play at a high level in 2013, but illness sidelined him in 2014 so really he's an unknown quantity. Tavares Garner is another question mark - he was a 4 star out of high school but we really have no idea how good he can be. Nick Harvey got a healthy amount of PT last year, but he's in the same boat as the others. Who do we start at CB opposite Devante? Why don't we know that coming out of the spring?
We know that Chavis likes bigger corners, and right now the only one that fits that particular mold is true freshman Roney Elam. Is he ready to play on day 1? The same can be asked of Deshawn Capers-Smith, who played QB in HS. In a sense it feels like this move is happening more out of necessity after we failed to land 1-2 high level corners who could play right off the bat (namely any combination of Kris Boyd, Holton Hill, Kendall Sheffield, or JUCO DB Justin Martin). Taking 4 DBs in 2013 was a good start, but only taking 1 in 2014 put us behind. We needed at least 1 more in 2015.
Williams is a great athlete, but does he have the hips for corner? More importantly can he make the transition to being an SEC ready corner in a matter of 4 months?
I like the idea of moving Williams to CB. This could be Nate Askew redone. But the position change results in more questions than it does answers.
THIS IS GREAT NEWS
OK, I am sometimes guilty of being overly optimistic regarding Aggie football, but I can't help but think this is a good move both for the offense and the defense.
While I certainly understand how this move might be seen as an indictment of the current talent level at cornerback, allow me to take a positive spin here. Brandon Williams is listed at 6', 200 lbs. He is arguably A&M's fastest player, with 40 times reported to be in the 4.3-4.4 range. Prior to this move, he was praised by coaches and fans alike for putting in serious work this offseason to increase his overall agility. A&M is taking a high level athlete with NFL size and NFL speed and adding him to your secondary. He immediately becomes A&M's fastest cornerback, and also one of the biggest. I used to think a move like this couldn't work, but that changed after A&M moved Nate Askew from wide receiver to linebacker in 2013 and showed some real success with it. Williams could prove to be the same case. His body and skill set seem ideal, and with John Chavis in charge of the defense there's no reason to believe Williams can't provide some solid play out on the island.
I also think this will help the offense. Much was made of the three man running back rotation that A&M used last year, and much has been made of the idea that while Williams has great speed, he may lack the strength to be effective running between the tackles. But by moving him to the defense (and with Trey Williams leaving for the NFL), what was once a crowded backfield now becomes much more streamlined. Last year A&M had three talented backs, but all three had very different skill sets. Now A&M will go into 2015 with two featured backs, both with more similar styles. I believe that will help the offense and the play calling. No more worrying about (and sometimes seemingly screwing up) which back should be on the field for which type of play. With two bruising, SEC-style backs each able to run hard inside or outside, life gets easier. The established senior Tra Carson is coming off a 25 carry 133 yard performance in the Liberty Bowl in which he showed what he is capable of when he isn't splitting carries. Then there is the up and coming sophomore James White, who averaged an impressive 7.0 yards per carry as a freshman and turned heads during the spring.
All in all, the biggest reason I like the move is because coaches love to talk about putting their best 22 players on the field, yet so many times it seems that great athletes waste away without every finding a role and without being willing to try new things. In this case both the coaching staff and the player who are willing to look at things from a different angle, and now the Aggies have potentially answered two questions with one move. Who starts at corner opposite Devante Harris? And how will we split up carries between three running backs? Problem solved, hopefully.
That's our take on the situation and we're interested in hearing yours. Share your perspective in the comments and tell us whether we should be jumping for joy or jumping off a cliff.