As he celebrates his 18th birthday on Saturday, Kennedy Williams will have a lot to be thankful for in the past year.
He's playing Division I college football, which didn't look like a strong prospect a year ago. He's not even redshirting, but getting on the field as a true freshman running back. And this weekend, he'll be playing his most anticipated game of the year in his hometown against UNLV.
"That was the first thing that jumped at me when I saw the schedule," Williams said. "I don't know what would be better than that. Playing in front of my family and friends on my birthday."
By now, many Aggie fans have come to know Williams as the younger brother of Aggie star running back Kerwynn Williams. But Kennedy is carving out his own name, albeit slowly this season.
His statistics are modest: He has 20 carries for 70 yards this season, a pair of catches for 8 yards and one kick return that went for 44 yards.
But just being on the field is a victory for the walk-on running back from Vegas, who wasn't even sure he'd be able to get a scholarship. In his senior year of high school, he was in talks with Southern Utah and Weber State, but those discussions fell off.
Williams got a chance to go to many Utah State games to watch his brother, and Kerwynn put in a good word for him to meet with coaches and see if he could walk on.
"My brother was the one who explained to me that the education was so good up here," Kennedy said. "It got me a little more interested. I got to stay with him a little bit last summer, and see that you could have a good time up here without getting too crazy."
Williams is now a psych major at Utah State, and he's been a strong player on the practice field. Coaches have lauded his work ethic throughout the season, and he usually shows up at the end of games when the Aggies are up big. Reps are reps.
The college experience has been a great one, Williams said. He hopes he can earn a scholarship soon, but also expects to keep proving that he should be on the field.
"I always wanted to play as soon as I can," he siad. "I work as hard as I can in the film room, I practice hard. It's all up to the coaches, but I want them to trust me enough to put me out there."
Especially against UNLV, a little playing time on his birthday would mean that much more.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon