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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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Isaiah Spiller aims to ‘prove the doubters wrong’

On Sept. 7, 2019, the Texas A&M football team was facing an uphill battle — the Aggies were playing against the No. 2 Clemson Tigers, and things just got worse. Then-sophomore running back Jashaun Corbin was on the ground and wasn’t getting back up.
Down 17-3 just five minutes into the third quarter, then-junior quarterback Kellen Mond faked the handoff to Corbin, who slipped into the flats on the left side of the field for a screen pass. After Mond lobbed the ball in Corbin’s direction, a Clemson defender ran down Corbin from behind, grabbing his back and dragging him down awkwardly for a 4-yard A&M gain.
Lost in the chaos of Corbin on the ground holding his leg was true freshman running back Isaiah Spiller, standing on the sideline. The Aggies were in capable hands. Spiller, like Corbin, was a 4-star athlete coming out of high school. He surprised Aggieland when he popped a carry to the right side and ran 85 yards in a Week 1 game against Texas State, his first collegiate appearance.
“I know he’s a freshman, but just the body size [that Spiller has helps him],” Mond said. “I feel like he can take a pounding but still give us a lot of great carries.”
Spiller would go on to have an up-and-down freshman season. He started nine of the team’s 13 games, receiving double-digit carries in nine games and rushing for triple digits in four games. He had nine touchdowns, but he also had three games with single-digit rushing yards.
After falling just short of 1,000 yards in his freshman campaign, Spiller’s sophomore season was the chance to put his name on the map. Corbin transferred out of A&M in favor of the Florida State Seminoles, his home state, offering Spiller the full-time starting job.
In an abbreviated SEC-only regular season schedule — due to the impacts of COVID-19 across the world — Spiller took charge of his new role, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. He produced 1,036 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, putting himself in the conversation among the nation’s most elite running backs, as the Aggies fell just shy of a College Football Playoff berth.
With NFL Draft buzz surrounding Spiller heading into his junior season, he had a chance to prove himself, but some worried the emergence of running back Devon Achane, who had a breakout freshman performance in the 2021 Orange Bowl, could diminish Spiller’s role. Some even hinted at the possibility of the speedy track star usurping the role as starter. Meanwhile, Spiller and his inner circle were undeterred.
“I’m going to tell you this: I told you we make goals every year,” Spiller’s father Fred told The Battalion, “To be that type of player, that Heisman candidate, the player to put his team on his back and make the plays necessary to take A&M to that national championship.”
While the loftier goals fell short for the Aggies in a roller coaster 2021-22 season, Spiller didn’t fail to overcome the hesitations of his doubters. He completed his junior campaign with an average of 5.6 yards per carry, seven total touchdowns and 1,000-plus yards for the second year in a row. He achieved his second-straight season without losing a fumble.
After declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft on Tuesday, Dec. 14, Spiller has been busy, receiving plenty of interest at the NFL level. He has had top-30 in-person, on-site visits with at least three teams at their team headquarters, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Washington Commanders and the Buffalo Bills.
However, his projection by the media has varied. According to both Pro Football Focus and Bleacher Report’s big boards, he is “RB11.” According to the Pro Football Network’s big board, he is “RB1.” According to the NFL Network’s big board, he is “RB4.”
His size is coveted by NFL teams. He runs with power and has the ability to cut hard and quick at the line to accompany his north-south running style.
“I mean, he is huge. He’s the guy that everyone knows is going to get it, and we’re going to give it to him and he carries it. He’s a big part of what we do [in the run game] and also catching the ball out of the backfield,” Fisher said.
But, some question the likelihood that his skills translate at the next stage, particularly pointing to some below-average testing numbers. Spiller’s 40-yard dash was reported by Texas A&M Athletics as 4.6 seconds at his Pro Day, and he jumped 30 inches in the vertical and 114 inches in the broad at the NFL Combine.
“I didn’t really prove anyone wrong; people are going to hate on me,” Spiller said after his Pro Day, citing that his game speed is more indicative of his abilities than a simple drill. A hamstring issue had hindered his ability to show off and show out during the offseason.
But, regardless of the haters, regardless of if he goes on Day 1, 2 or 3, if there’s one thing Spiller has lived by at A&M, it’s “prove the doubters wrong.” And, certainly, he won’t stop trying.

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