COLLEGE STATION - It never was a matter of "if" but rather when for Isaiah Spiller. In his first game against Texas State, the freshman running back shined on limited carries, collecting 106 yards on the ground. He'd follow that up with a 116-yard outing against Lamar two weeks later.
Since that September evening, Spiller has struggled to produce anything for Texas A&M on the ground. Through three Power 5 games this season, he produced a combined 62 yards on 30 carries. Struggles continued as careless mistakes such as fumbles leading to defensive scores.
Questions have arisen about his potential following another less than stellar outing against Alabama. On Saturday, however, everything could be changing for the young runner has he finished strong in a 24-17 victory over Ole Miss.
Spiller finished 82 total yards and rushed for a team-high of 78. Averaging 4.9 yards per carry, the Klein Collins product made defenders miss in the open field, finding small holes and pushing forward for positive yards.
For this first time this season, each of his carries ended with positive yards. And while it took until the clock was winding down, Spiller finally found the end zone. With just over two minutes left in the game, he'd break free in the open field for a 22-yard touchdown, giving Texas A&M a 24-14 lead.
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"Tonight was really big [for Spiller] and a confidence-builder," A&M quarterback Kellen Mond said. "He's running hard and I like where he's at mentally. He'll be a big part of the offense for sure."
That touchdown would end up meaning more than expected. The Rebels would drive down the field and score on a Luke Logan 35-yard field goal for a one-possession score. Ole Miss would try to recover the onside kick, but would fail to convert.
Spiller's production could be beneficial down the path. Since the loss of Jashaun Corbin, the Aggies have struggled to find a stable runner. Spiller's outing could be the necessary steps moving forward to help the Aggies find another way to succeed.
Spiller was never expected to be "the guy" during his freshman campaign. With the chance to sit and learn, his season was projected to a building year. Learning on the fly, Spiller's success finally culminated in a must-win matchup for A&M.
"He’s getting a feel for it – he’s getting better and better at what he’s doing,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said.