LB Buddy Johnson
Buddy Johnson has defied the odds from day one in Aggieland. The 3-star recruit was a starter from Week 1 of his freshman season, beating out some veterans for the job. He played the SAM linebacker in Kevin Sumlin’s last season and had 20 tackles with one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. Much like Mike Elko, John Chavis ran Nickel formations to account for A&M’s weakness in the secondary so Johnson wasn’t on the field as much as Otaro Alaka and Tyrel Dodson.
Johnson beefed up to about 230 pounds last spring and didn’t lose a step. Elko tried him out in the rover spot but eventually had him backing up Alaka and Dodson as an inside backer. He improve slightly with 34 tackles, six tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks in 2018.
Johnson will now be thrust into a leadership role for the first time since stepping foot on campus. This will be a relatively young and inexperienced defense in 2019, though it will be talented. The young players will lean on Johnson’s leadership, especially within his own position group. Dodson and Alaka are both in the NFL now.
Elko is counting on Johnson, who got the start in the 2019 Gator Bowl and looked fantastic, to step up. Time will tell, but Johnson could follow in Dodson’s footsteps and declare for the draft a year early.