2004 Football Preview: Running Backs

Editor's Note: In the fourth of a series of articles previewing the 2004 football Tigers, Auburn's star senior tailbacks are featured.

Auburn, Ala.–-One of Auburn's coaches has been smiling a lot since early in the spring.

Since both Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown announced they were coming back for their senior seasons, running backs Coach Eddie Gran has been perhaps the happiest man on the Auburn campus.

Both key players in the last three years, Williams and Brown have shown they are capable of taking over a game and can get the job done against even the best competition.

Carnell Williams (24) and Ronnie Brown (32) decided not to enter the NFL draft so they could play at Auburn as seniors.

Expected to be the starter at tailback, Williams (5-11, 210) is coming off a very strong season in 2003 when he rushed for 1,307 yards and 17 touchdowns. For his career Williams has 2,666 yards and 33 touchdowns, good enough for sixth on the all-time list. His 33 touchdowns are third all-time in AU history, just 12 behind Bo Jackson's team record.

While his overall numbers aren't as big, Brown's abilities are just as apparent as Williams when the ball is in his hands. Despite starting just 14 games in his career, Brown (6-1, 232) has amassed 1,794 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. His best season came as a sophomore when he had 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns on just 175 carries. Brown is averaging five yards per carry heading into his senior season.

"Having them back has been great for the team because of their leadership that they bring on offense," Gran tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "Along with Jason Campbell, those three are the heart and soul of where this thing starts. Then you go to Danny Lindsey. The leadership is so much better than it has been and I think it starts with those two guys and the commitment they made.

"I think they have some unfinished business to take care of and they are hungry," Gran adds. "They are excited about playing in this offense. They feel like they are going to be in the backfield together and as the spring went along that's what was happening. They have worked very hard on the things that the NFL people told them to work on. They've worked hard this summer getting those things done."

One thing that professional football scouts want to see out of Williams and Brown is the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and get upfield. For their careers, the duo has 24 catches each for a total of almost 600 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers are likely to be exceeded this season in Coach Al Borges' offense as both are expected to be prominently featured as receivers as well as running backs.

"They've worked on catching the ball real hard by getting out and catching the JUGS machine and catching balls after they work out," Gran says. "They've done a little bit of extra every opportunity that they've had. I think that's going to be beneficial to our football team with those guys catching the ball in space."

Editor's Note: This is the first of two articles previewing the running backs.

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