Stabilizing force: LSU’s Josh Williams returning for sixth year to help bolster Tigers’ backfield

LSU running back Josh Williams (27) had 284 yards and five touchdowns in 2023. PHOTO BY: Jonathan Mailhes

LSU’s remaining player with ties to the undefeated 2019 national championship team will return for a sixth year of eligibility.

Running back Josh Williams confirmed to Tiger Rag on Monday that he will return for the 2024 season instead of turning professional. Players had until midnight Monday to declare for the NFL Draft.

The 5-foot-9, 203-pound Williams, a former walk-on who’s earned a scholarship and two degrees from LSU with a 3.4 grade point average, will help provide a sense of stability in the backfield for third-year head coach Brian Kelly next season.

LSU lost three running backs – Logan Diggs, Armoni Goodwin and Tre Bradford – to the NCAA transfer portal. Diggs has committed to Ole Miss, Goodwin to UAB and Bradford to North Texas.

Fifth-year senior John Emery Jr. exhausted his eligibility after the 2023 season.

Williams becomes the team’s top returning rusher from ’23 with leading rusher, quarterback Jayden Daniels, running out of eligibility and expected to be a top-of-the-first-round selection in the NFL Draft. He topped the Tigers with 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, followed by Diggs (653 yards, 7 TDs) and Williams with 55 carries for 284 yards and 5 TDs.

Williams also had 14 catches for 194 yards and a TD.

His best game came in the team’s 35-31 ReliaQuest Bowl victory over Wisconsin with 12 attempts for 51 yards and a TD. He had three receptions for 35 yards against Georgia State, helping the Tigers to a 10-3 season.

Williams is regarded as a tough, hard-nosed runner that is a capable receiver out of the backfield and competent blocker in blitz protection.

He had a career-high 532 yards on 97 attempts and six TDs in ’22 in Kelly’s first season that ended with a 10-4 record and Citrus Bowl win over Purdue.

The native of Houston and graduate of The Kincaid School, was a member of LSU’s scout team in ’19 and redshirted during the team’s national title season. He was awarded a scholarship in the fall of ’20, has started in 10 of 47 games at LSU with 191 attempts for 1,012 yards and 11 TDs to go with 40 catches for 337 yards and a score.

LSU will return three scholarship running backs for the ’24 season with Williams, sophomores Kaleb Jackson and Trey Holley, and welcome recent signee Kaden Durham of Duncanville, Texas.

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