- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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We asked the fans last week in our SportsNation poll to pick the player in the SEC who would bounce back the strongest this season from injury, and the winner was Texas A&M running back Christine Michael.
It was a good race among three outstanding running backs. With more than 12,000 votes cast, Michael collected 31 percent of the vote. South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore was second with 25 percent of the vote, while Arkansas' Knile Davis was third with 23 percent of the vote.
For some, it might have been a surprise that Lattimore didn't win. He's been a first-team pick at running back on pretty much every preseason All-America team. But Michael was also on his way to a tremendous season a year ago before tearing his ACL against Oklahoma and missing the Aggies' final four games.
The 5-11, 213-pound Michael has terrific speed and great cutting ability and is never hesitant about taking on any defender. He rushed for 899 yards before his injury last season and averaged 6 yards per carry. He's averaged 5.4 yards per carry during his career, but has had each of his last two seasons cut short by injuries. Two years ago, it was a broken leg that sidelined him.
Michael, who will be a senior, was held out of contact in the spring, but insisted he could have played in a game if the Aggies were playing in one. If healthy, he has everything it takes to be a 1,200-yard rusher in this league. He just has to prove that he can make it through an entire season.
It remains to be seen how much he will be used as a receiver out of the backfield in Kevin Sumlin's new offense, and Michael could again end up splitting carries similar to the last few years with Cyrus Gray. The Aggies are still unsure if Oklahoma transfer Brandon Williams will be ruled eligible by the NCAA this season, and incoming freshman Trey Williams also has loads of talent.
Regardless of how it all shakes out, Michael is the kind of runner who can take over a game. He lit up Arkansas last season for 230 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries.
He'll be a treat for SEC fans to watch play. That is, unless you're cheering for the team trying to tackle him.
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