As goes for any high-profile college sports team, the Texas A&M Football team had a lot of turnover on both sides of the ball. Thankfully, a large chunk of Jimbo Fisher’s elite defensive unit from a year ago will be returning.
This should set up for another great year from the Aggies in the SEC, where they were one of the best defenses in the toughest defensive conference in America. Hopefully, A&M will do a better job on this side of the ball against Alabama, who dropped 52 points on them a year ago but has a large amount of turnover offensively.
Either way, this should be an exciting season for the Aggies. To look ahead, I’m going to be judging each defensive position group, determining which ones improved and which ones declined from a year ago.
Which Texas A&M Football position groups have improved since a year ago and which will be worse?
Defensive Line: The Aggies’ defensive line looks like a position group that could decline on paper, as they lost one of their best all-around defenders in Bobby Brown III to the NFL Draft. He’ll be replaced by McKinnley Jackson, who looks extremely promising. That said, there is no shortage of talent returning and virtually every player on this unit should drastically improve from a year ago. DeMarvin Leal is set to be a top ten pick in the NFL Draft, while a pair of ultra-experienced defensive linemen will round out the unit in Jayden Peevy and Micheal Clemons.
Linebackers: The linebackers lose a similar level of talent, but unfortunately, their loss isn’t as immediately replaceable. Buddy Johnson also departed for the NFL Draft and finished as the team’s leading tackler in 2020. He’ll be succeeded by Andre White Jr., an experienced backup, so the talent dropoff won’t be horrible. Next to white, the Aggies have a Butkus Award contender in Aaron Hansford, a former wide receiver, so they’ll be sure to get production out of him. Overall, this unit should still be strong, though they’ll technically decline after a great season in 2020.
Secondary: The Aggies’ secondary is in direct competition for the most exciting position group on this team with the defensive line. The Aggies return all of their starters at cornerback, notably including two experienced players in Myles Jones and Demani Richardson, two guys who have a boat-load of starts under their belt. Hopefully, however, they’ll be overshadowed by Jaylon Jones, a former 5-star cornerback who could become one of the best in the country after learning about opposing defenses for a season. Jones had an interception and 6 pass deflections as a freshman.
Special Teams: The Aggies return their kicker in Seth Small, who is relatively talented with an 80% FG conversion rate, but pales in comparison to the other specialists on this team. Those specialists are Nick Constantinou, a punter who was named to the Ray Guy Award watchlist, and Ainias Smith, a relatively inexperienced, but extremely shifty return man. Smith specifically could become one of the best kickoff and punt returners in the game, as he is already an extremely versatile player, shifting between defenders on the field and position groups on the roster.