Texas A&M Football: Why Donovan Wilson is the Aggies’ next defensive star


Texas A&M sophomore safety is a rising star on the Aggies’ rapidly improving defensive unit. 

The Texas A&M football team is vastly improved on defense in 2015. While sophomore defensive end Myles Garrett gets the majority of the media attention, sophomore safety Donovan Wilson is quietly putting together an outstanding season.

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When Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin hired John Chavis to become the defensive coordinator at A&M during the offseason, he changed the trajectory of the program. Chavis brought instant credibility on the defensive side of the ball and immediately changed the expectations for the Aggie football players.

Chavis has a reputation for building fundamentally sound defenses that focus on stopping the run first and foremost, then apply pressure on the quarterback. He often uses his defensive backs on blitzes in order to wreak havoc in the offensive backfield.

Wilson was a relatively unknown recruit coming out of Woodlawn High School in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was rated as a three-star recruit and the 103rd best safety prospect in the nation by 247Sports.com. Wilson made a verbal commitment to Utah before catching the attention of the Aggie coaches late in the recruiting process.

Sep 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies nickel Donovan Wilson (6) intercepts the ball in the second quarter against Arkansas Razorbacks receiver Jojo Robinson (17) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

He verbally committed to the Aggies in February of 2014 and signed with them a few days later. Wilson showed he had a tremendous nose for the football as a senior in high school when he led the state in interceptions with 13. He played on both sides of the ball and added 57 receptions for 870 yards with nine touchdowns as a wide receiver.

Although he was not one of the more heralded recruits in the Aggies’ 2014 recruiting class, he wasted little time making an impact. Wilson played in 10 games as a freshmen and registered 19 tackles with an impressive three tackles for loss from his safety position.

Wilson had his best game during his only start of his freshman season in the Liberty Bowl against West Virginia. He registered nine tackles in the game and stepped up and made stops at crucial times after senior safety Howard Matthews was ejected from the game for targeting.

Chavis has utilized Wilson in a variety of ways. In the season opener against Arizona State, Wilson lined up next to the defensive end at the line of scrimmage and ran some stunts. He was all over the field against ASU and finished the game with eight tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, a pass broken up and two forced fumbles.

Wilson ranks third on the team in tackles with 23 in four games. He leads the team in interceptions with two and ranks fourth on the team with tackles for loss with 3.5. Over a 12 game season those numbers project to 69 tackles with six interceptions and 10.5 tackles for loss. To put those numbers in perspective, consider that Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu had 73 tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions during his 2011 All-American campaign under Chavis at LSU.

Chavis likes long defensive backs and after an offseason in the weight room, Wilson is carrying around 205-pounds on his 6’1″ frame. He is big enough to be effective against the run and fast enough to cover wide receivers. The sophomore starts at the nickel position for the Aggies and Chavis has lined him up all over the field to take advantage of his versatility.

The Aggies have some tremendous players on defense in Garrett, defensive end Daeshon Hall and safeties Armani Watts and Justin Evans. It is easy to overlook all the contributions from Wilson. Aggie fans need to pay attention because he may be the most complete defender on the team.

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