COLLEGE STATION, Texas - When Texas A&M announced Corarridan Richarson would not play in the Texas Bowl, many wondered who would play the backup role. Although Isaiah Spiller shined for the Aggies run game, there wasn't a reliable second option behind him.
Jimbo Fisher wasn't going to allow anyone to know the game plan for the team against Oklahoma State. That played out to be the difference-maker for the Aggies as many were shocked to see Ainias Smith taking carries from Kellen Mond on Friday night.
He would be a game-changer from his first snap and the new position. Behind Smith's legs, the Aggies would pull off a 24-21 victory over the Cowboys to secure a win at the end of their season.
“Let me tell you something, that guy is a heck of a football player," Fisher said. "You could play him at tackle, and I think he'd make a block. I think he could block a 300-pounder, I really do. I have the most respect for him."
Smith was called in during the week to learn the position. Although young, learning a new role for anyone would be tough on short notice. Still, the speedy Sugar Land native was up for the challenge, doing whatever to help his team win.
From the get-go, Smith's speed excelled him to new heights in the depleted Aggie backfield. The true freshman would finish with 54 rushing yards, along with 13 receiving yards on two catches.
"He's a natural back there," Fisher said. "I think he did one heck of a job. He's a natural runner. He blocked well, he can catch the ball out of the backfield like you saw. You can create mismatches with him. I think he's found a pretty good home in many ways we can use him."
On the opening drive of the third quarter, Smith would take a pitch from Mond at the last second down the Cowboys' sideline. Using his natural speed, the Dulles star glided into Oklahoma State territory for a 19-yard gain, setting the Aggies up in the red zone.
Two plays later, Mond would connect with Jhamon Ausbon for a 10-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14 apiece.
A multi-purpose player, Smith should only be considered as "weapon x" moving forward. A smooth route runner with natural hands and the ability to make plays in the return game, Smith should see his role expand with the Aggies moving forward.
With the team's future at the running back position in question, it's nice to know the team has an option behind Spiller after all. Much like legs, Smith seems like he can learn anything on the fly.
"He picked up a lot of plays really fast and was able to give our offense a kick start tonight," quarterback Kellen Mond said.
Smith will finish his first season at A&M with 22 catches for 248 yards, 54 rushing yards and three total touchdowns.