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BYU officially welcomes South Carolina running back Ty'Son Williams to the program

South Carolina running back Ty'Son Williams (27) runs with the ball against Georgia defensive back J.R. Reed (20) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
South Carolina running back Ty'Son Williams (27) runs with the ball against Georgia defensive back J.R. Reed (20) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
AP

PROVO — A few months ago, there were serious questions about the depth and experience of BYU’s running back group.

But the Cougar coaching staff has addressed those questions by adding talent for the 2019 season. On Monday, coach Kalani Sitake announced that South Carolina graduate transfer running back Ty’Son Williams has officially joined the Cougars and is immediately eligible.

“Ty’Son really wants to be here at BYU. He has a strong vision for his career and is excited about the opportunities at BYU to advance his education and career goals,” Sitake said in a statement. “Ty’Son is a well-rounded football player who can carry the ball and catch it out of the backfield. He is super athletic with tons of speed and playmaking ability. We’re excited to welcome him to the university and our football program.”

Williams, a 6-foot, 219-pound native of Sumter, South Carolina, graduated from the University of South Carolina in December and will have one year of eligibility.

Williams, who played in the Southeastern Conference with the Gamecocks for two seasons, was South Carolina’s second-leading rusher in 2017 with 471 yards. Last season, he played in only eight games due to a hand injury. Williams finished the campaign with 328 yards and a team-high four rushing touchdowns.

In all, Williams played 20 games at South Carolina and averaged 4.8 yards per carry.

As a freshman, Williams played at the University of North Carolina, where he saw action in six games and had 19 carries for 57 yards.

The four-star recruit out of Crestwood High School rushed for 1,058 yards and 14 touchdowns on 194 carries as a high school senior. He also eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark during his sophomore and junior seasons.

Out of high school, Williams was a member of the ESPN Top 300 and was rated as the No. 11 running back in the nation. He received offers to Wisconsin, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Duke, Michigan, Mississippi State, NC State, North Carolina, South Carolina, Notre Dame and Virginia.

Last month, Williams announced via social media that he would be attending BYU.

“I want to thank all the coaches and programs who reached out to give me an opportunity to continue my education for my last year,” Williams wrote at the time. “With that being said I will continue my last year of eligibility at Brigham Young University.”

During spring practices BYU announced that running back Emmanuel Esukpa, a graduate transfer from Rice, will play for the Cougars this fall.

In 29 games at Rice, Esukpa rushed 196 times for 778 yards and six touchdowns. In high school, Esukpa was a two-sport athlete and he recorded a 10.8 split in the 4x100-meter relay.

BYU has suffered attrition at the running back spot as Squally Canada and Matt Hadley have graduated while Riley Burt transferred. Ula Tolutau, who hasn't played since the 2017 season, has put his name in the transfer portal.

In addition to Williams and Esukpa, the Cougars also have Lopini Katoa, Tyler Allgeier, Kavika Fonua, Sione Finau and Morgan Pyper at running back.

During spring practices, Cougar running backs coach AJ Steward was asked if he envisions one player emerging as a featured back or if the running back duties will be handled by committee.

“It’s still kind of early for that. Some of them are still learning the system and understanding how to play Division I running back, getting rid of bad habits that they were able to get away with at the high school level,” Steward said. “It’s not a fair decision to make right now. A couple of weeks through fall camp, we’ll have a good idea of what type of group we have and how we want to cater our offense around the running back group.”

Now that Williams and Esukpa are on the roster, Steward has considerably more depth to work with than he did just a few months ago.