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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Achane, Spiller dynamic duo

Photo by Photos by Robert O’Brien and Meredith Seaver

Running backs Devon Achane and Isaiah Spiller have been invaluable tools in the Aggies’ arsenal during the 2021 season.

When most people hear the term “two-headed monster,” they likely think of a fire-breathing dragon with dual skulls.
If they’re Aggies, odds are they’re thinking of something else. And, odds are, that “thing” is Texas A&M’s running back duo of sophomore Devon Achane and junior Isaiah Spiller. Alone, Achane and Spiller already serve as critical threats to opposing teams’ defenses. Together, they are unstoppable.
A&M head football coach Jimbo Fisher said in the Southeastern Conference, having two running backs getting a multitude of carries is incredibly vital.
“Listen, [one player] can’t go play every play at running back,” Fisher said. “In this league, they used to hand it to [a single running back] 25, 35, 40 times a game. It’s just different now. You’ve got to have diversity … to be able to keep that balance and to go for a 12-game schedule, they’re vital.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 19, both Spiller and Achane earned honorable mention accolades from the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award following A&M’s 35-14 win over Missouri on Oct. 16. At Memorial Stadium, the two-headed monster combined for 292 yards across 36 carries.
The pair’s monstrous number of rushing yards is even more impressive when compared to that of the Tigers. Mizzou senior running back Tyler Badie only managed to record 68 yards against the Aggies, exactly 100 yards fewer than Spiller.
Spiller and Achane’s performances on the field aren’t anything special to them — it’s simply the expectations they set for themselves, Spiller said.
“It’s just our job, doing our job every day, me and [Achane],” Spiller said. “I’m happy to see him get his over 100 [yards], so [I] can’t wait for next week.”
While Spiller and Achane are simply “doing their jobs,” Fisher said what they bring to the playing field is special because of their altruism.
“[Spiller] and Achane are going to touch the ball plenty, I promise you, because they can catch it,” Fisher said. “They can run it. I’m going to tell you what — they’re both selfless.”
In the 2021 Orange Bowl, Spiller hit the 1,000 season rushing-yard mark while playing on a fractured toe. After hitting this mark, Spiller sat out the remainder of the bowl game, with Achane taking his place. The then-freshman did not disappoint, recording 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns before being named the MVP of the contest.
But what was special about Spiller and Achane at the Orange Bowl was their dynamic, Fisher said. As seen on the sidelines, Spiller was the first one over to Achane on the sidelines following a big play or touchdown.
“[Spiller’s] leadership, he’s really emerged into a leader and how he practices and affects guys in a great way, not just his performance,” Fisher said. “It’s amazing. You know why he did it so well? He did it all camp. He’s been amazing in camp, as good as anybody we’ve got on our team this whole camp. Spiller’s been awesome.”
If the monster were to have a third head, it would belong to junior wide receiver Ainias Smith. On the season, the player, who formerly doubled as a running back, has 319 receiving yards and six touchdowns on the season as of presstime.
Smith said the versatility both Spiller and Achane possess makes them an even bigger threat.
“[The duo of Spiller and Achane] plays a big role in the offense,” Smith said. “They are both great players, and they can do a lot of great things with the ball in their hands. And they can both do something whether it’s in the receiving game or in the rushing game. It’s just great to have them both.”
In the seven games played so far, Spiller has rushed for 659 yards and four touchdowns, while Achane currently holds 453 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns.
With a 12-game schedule and five games remaining, Achane and Spiller are both on-pace to hit the 1,000-yard mark before postseason play begins.
Spiller said the duo of himself and Achane isn’t the only monster opposing teams have to worry about.
“We’re going to be a very explosive offense,” Spiller said. “We can do it all. We’ve got tight ends. We’ve got multiple running backs, multiple receivers that can run down the field, run past you, catch the ball.”

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