Texas A&M football player grades through five games: Defense, continued. . .
DB Antonio Johnson: Arguably this team’s biggest surprise of the season has been the emergence of Antonio Johnson, who has been the team’s best defender (in my opinion). Johnson has been all over the field and seemingly gets in on every tackle.
This has translated to the stat sheet, where the nickel back has been lighting this season up. Johnson is leading the team in tackles with 41 on the year. He also has four pass deflections on the year, two of which came in a crucial game against Arkansas. In my opinion, this has been the Aggies’ most impactful defensive player so far in 2021.
Player Grade: A+
S Leon O’Neal: Safety Leon O’Neal had a really strong start to the year, recording two interceptions against Kent State, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Since then, the fourth-year safety has been relatively quiet in the secondary.
Still, O’Neal has been solid, recording four pass deflections and 16 tackles since his breakout Week 1 performance. We haven’t seen any more pick-sixes, but he’s bound to snag another pass from an opposing quarterback at some point this season.
Player Grade: A-
DB Tyreek Chappell: If you brought up the name Tyreek Chappell before the season, a lot of fans would answer with something like: “who?: Chappell is a player who will fight for the honor of being the biggest positive surprise of the season for the Aggies, as he is a true freshman who has made a huge impact so far in 2021.
The three-star corner is proving that stars don’t matter with stellar play on the field. He doesn’t have any interceptions yet, but with 16 tackles and four pass deflections, he’s on the right path to becoming a star player on this defense. Chappell is young and he should only continue to improve down the road. I’m giving him an A+ because of how low expectations were for him.
Player Grade: A+
I may have left a few players out, including guys like Jayden Peevy, Myles Jones, Jaylon Jones, or Caleb Chapman. That said, I tried to pick relevant players who have had a relatively injury-free season. I will update my player grades later in the year.