Texas A&M Football: Who has been the best defender on the team?

Jaylon Jones, Texas A&M football (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
Jaylon Jones, Texas A&M football (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images) /

The Texas A&M football team has been elite defensively in 2021. Even though they had a few midseason missteps, the Aggies are back on track, leading the second-best scoring defense in the entire country.

Hitting their stride at the perfect time, A&M has not allowed more than 14 points in any of its last three games. Even more specifically, they held Missouri to 14 points, South Carolina to 14 points, and Auburn to just three points.

And even though the team is seeing incredible success, it’s hard to say that this unit has a true “star” player. The argument could be made for DeMarvin Leal, who is clearly the most talented player on the team, but surprising defenders have stepped up for this team in 2021.

Who has been the best Texas A&M football defender performance-wise in 2021?

Before I get too deep into this, let me give you the stat lines of some of the best performers from Mike Elko’s defense in 2021. Here’s what those numbers look like.

  • LB Aaron Hansford: 64 tackles, 7 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 PD
  • DB Antonio Johnson: 58 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 INT, 4 PD
  • DL DeMarvin Leal: 41 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 PD
  • DB Tyreek Chappell: 29 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 8 PD
  • DB Leon O’Neal Jr.: 40 tackles, 2 INT, 1 TD, 5 PD, 1 FR
  • DL Jayden Peevy: 30 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1 INT, 3 PD, 1 FF
  • DB Jaylon Jones: 23 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 INT, 4 PD

There is a lot to look at among these top performers, but does one individual player stand above the rest statistically?

Your eyes might initially land on the expected in DeMarvin Leal, who has recorded 5.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss on the year. Impressive, no doubt, but has he gone above and beyond?

The player that I’d vouch for as the team’s best defender may even be Aaron Hansford, who has brought a veteran presence to this unit in his sixth year. Not only has he been an elite second-level tackler, but he’s been able to get into the backfield and have a disruptive overall presence. His seven tackles for loss and two sacks will attest to that.

Heck, the secondary has been elite, even if nobody has been “the guy” so far this season. That should be obvious by the fact that four of the seven players listed above are defensive backs. A handful of players in the secondary will return, which should excite Aggie fans.

But to get back to the point — I’m not sure you can label someone as the “best” player on the team this season. The most impactful player is likely DeMarvin Leal, who makes opposing offensive linemen’s lives as difficult as possible on any given play. He makes everyone else’s job easier.

Still, I’ll give the edge to Hansford, who has been everything that a great linebacker should be. The Aggie LB currently has a new career-high in tackles, tackles for loss, pass deflections, and is on track to set a new sack high.

Next. The Aggies lead the nation in this key statistic. dark

This defense has been elite and should finish the year strong.