On December 31, Trayveon Williams and the Texas A&M Aggies take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. Williams has been a key contributor to the Aggie offense since he arrived on campus in 2016. And while he hasn’t officially declared for the NFL draft, yet, there’s a good chance this is his final college football game.
Coming out of C.E. King High School in Houston, Texas, Williams was the eighth ranked all-purpose back, nationally, and the 49th overall prospect in Texas, according to 247Sports. And with the way he ended his high school career, it’s a wonder he wasn’t ranked higher or pursued by more of the elite college programs. During his junior season, Williams rushed for 2,391 yards and 24 touchdowns while averaging 9.9 yards per carry. He added 20 receptions for 411 yards and five more touchdowns. To close out his high school career, he accumulated 1,409 rushing yards, 243 receiving yards, and 20 touchdowns, as a senior. Even with the step back in production, his nearly 4,500 yards of offense were enough to catch the eye of former Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin, and he joined the team in 2016.
As a highly sought-after prospect, Williams was expected to make an instant impact for Texas A&M. He made the most of the expectations and led the team in rushing attempts and yards in what was arguably his best season as a runner.
While it didn’t qualify as a breakout season falling 42 yards per game short of the 130-all-purpose-yard threshold, Williams’ freshman season was notable as he became the school’s first ever true freshman with over 1,00 yards rushing. His 6.8 yards per carry ranked sixth in conference and he showed off his ability to make big plays with five rushing TDs over 20 yards. The highlight from his freshman season came against Tennessee when he totaled 217 yards and a touchdown and became the school’s first freshman with a 200 rushing yard game.
As a whole, the Texas A&M offense took a step back in 2017 which led to the eventual dismissal of Sumlin as head coach. Once again, Williams led the team in rushing, but his rushing average dropped by more than two yards per carry. Despite having an additional 17 carries for the season, he fell short of 1,000 yards of offense. The positive takeaway from the season was his continued usage in the passing game despite averaging less than five yards per reception as a freshman. On his 20 receptions, he averaged 9.6 yards per reception.
While there were a few lowlight games in the 2018 campaign, there’s no denying that this was his best overall season. Not only did he eclipse 200 carries for the first time in his career, but his rushing average rebounded to 6.0 YPC and he accumulated a career-high 15 rushing touchdowns. While he had three games with under 50 rushing yards, he also had eight games over 100 yards, including five over 150 rushing yards. His 27 receptions marked a career high and he once again improved on his efficiency with a 10.3 YPR.
Should this be the end of his college career, his 3,379 rushing yards and 531 receiving yards is very good, albeit unspectacular.1 Of note, his production appears very similar to Le’Veon Bell, who finished his Michigan State career with 3,346 rushing yards and 531 receiving yards with slightly worse efficiency.
In a class seen as relatively weak, it’s possible that Williams could be ranked higher than he would normally. However, based on early position rankings from draft experts, he’d need an incredibly strong draft process to elevate himself into the top-five RBs in the class. So when using Anthony Amico’s regression tree, he is immediately put on the undesirable side of historical outcomes.
Because he failed to be a true workhorse back and his career average receiving is only 8.5 YPR, Williams falls into the node with the lowest likelihood for fantasy success. So for those hoping Williams will be a success, his combine will be critical. And as a former four-star all-purpose back prospect with a projected 40 time in the mid-4.4 second range, draft stock improvement by way of combine success is a real possibility.
Both Williams’ rushing and receiving efficiency was hindered by one season. Removing his freshman season’s 4.8 YPR would elevate his career average to ten yards per catch. And his 2017 campaign featured a significant dip in his rushing average. The positive takeaway from his college career is that he managed to put all of the pieces together in his final season. Not only did he bring his rushing average up to six yards per carry, but he posted a career high in receptions, receiving yards, and YPR. And while his breakout didn’t come in his first two years on campus, he did average 150 yards from scrimmage per game in his junior season, giving him a breakout season at the age of 21. This implies a historical success rate of 22.2 percent.
A spectacular combine and overall draft process could alleviate some of the concerns about Williams’ prospects, but as of right now, he appears to be a somewhat risky third-round option. Because he’s fairly well-known due to playing at a major college program, the odds of getting him at a great value are unlikely. However, if he falls into the fourth round, his athleticism and usage in the passing game are enough to take a chance on him.
- Per CFB Reference, there are 117 players to have at least 3,000 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards, and 60 receptions for their career. (back)