The only thing harder than Christine Michael's luck during his Texas A&M career has been trying to tackle him.
He’s a 5-foot-11, 220-pound bruiser who enjoys running over defenders as much as he does running by them.
If not for injuries, Michael would be universally mentioned among the premier running backs in college football. Talent-wise, he’s already there.
But now comes the hard part -- staying healthy for an entire season.
“You’ve gotta go out there and do it every game and every season no matter what’s happened to you in the past, but I feel like I’ll be up there with any running back in the country when it’s all over,” said Michael, who’s had his last two seasons cut short by injuries.
“I’m just ready to go show it. You can’t do it by talking about it.”
Michael had 899 yards last season and was on his way to leading the Big 12 in rushing until he tore his ACL in the ninth game against Oklahoma.
The year before, he had 631 rushing yards before breaking his leg in the eighth game against Texas Tech.
The senior from Beaumont, Texas, has missed nine games the past two seasons because of injuries. He still has 2,374 career rushing yards and 22 touchdowns, while averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He also has nine career 100-yard rushing games.
“You can’t dwell on it,” Michael said. “I mean, you can, but it’s just going to hold you back. All I know is that I’m healthy and feel as strong as I ever have. I’m ready. This team is ready.”
It’s no secret that first-year Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin likes to throw the ball, but he’s also not going to forget about a weapon like Michael.
And even though Michael has never carried the ball more than 166 times in a season, the Aggies have enough depth at running back to keep him fresh. Junior Ben Malena and prized true freshman Trey Williams will also factor into the rotation at running back.
“We have a great offensive line and a quick tempo,” Michael said. “We’re going to get defenses tired and take advantage of that in the second half. It’s a great offense, and we have a great coaching staff. We’ve been training hard, and it’s time to go.”
In particular, Michael is eager to see what all the fuss has been about SEC defenses. He and the rest of his Texas A&M teammates get their first taste Saturday when Florida visits College Station for the Aggies’ SEC debut.
“It seems like years since I’ve played in any football game,” said Michael, who missed the Aggies’ final four games a year ago. “I’m just hungry to get out there against these SEC guys and put all the struggles I’ve had and all my motivation out there on the field.
“I know there’s a lot of people who don’t believe in us and don’t think we’re ready for this. We want to go out and show not only them, but show ourselves that we’re one of the best teams out there.”
Michael, who was once described by former Texas A&M teammate Von Miller as a “hybrid, mutant running back” with the “speed of a cheetah,” has only one individual goal this season.
While others may talk about 1,000-yard seasons and joining the likes of Marcus Lattimore and Knile Davis as an All-SEC performer, Michael said his goal is be the “strongest man on the field and the most aggressive guy on the field in every game.”
He added, “I just want to put it all out there, and we’ll see how everything turns out.”