3. Leon O’Neal Jr., safety
Sticking on the defensive side of the ball and with players with suffixes in their names, we move to one of my favorite recruits of the 2018 class. Leon O’Neal Jr. came on to the scene in the bowl game on New Year’s Eve against the Wolf Pack.
With the hard-hitting, Donovan Wilson out, it was up to the anxious freshman to fill the role. In the words of the philosopher named Drake, “turn that 6 upside down, it’s a 9 now.” This line fits our situation perfectly. No. 9 O’Neal Jr. filled in for No. 6 Wilson and it was like the senior never left.
The Cypress, Texas native finished the game with six total tackles and a great interception with a 25-yard return. This performance was exactly what Aggie fans everywhere were looking for. They knew that Wilson would be missed but with another head-knocking safety loaded and ready to go, a wave of excitement and comfort was cast.
One of my favorite things about O’Neal Jr. is the attitude that he brings to the locker room. Call him enigmatic or just plain wild if you like. No. 9 brings passion and a love for the game that few people seem to really express. His favorite phrase is “Wake Em Up,” meaning he’s gonna go knock someone in the teeth and wake them up, letting them feel his presence. His breakout game may have been the Gator Bowl, but the entirety of 2019 belongs to Leon.
He’ll look to step in and take Dono’s spot, but he’ll be pushed to not get too comfortable. The Aggies have 5-star Brian Williams coming in with the class of 2019 and he’ll be gunning for some playing time, just like Leon was.
The Aggies continue to be deep at the safety position, as goes the trend for the past couple of years. But it seems that it will be Leon leading the pack, and the Aggies with his love for the game and desire to be the unquestionable best.