Mike Elko's Impressive Work to Keep Texas A&M Football's Roster Together Shown by Bama Meltdown
The predictions flying freely about a mass portal exodus for Texas A&M football after Jimbo left did not ultimately come true. There were some significant departures, to be sure—Walter Nolen and Evan Stewart chief among them—but those two were maybe the biggest losses. Other contributors that left were guys like Jake Johnson, Fadil Diggs, and Deuce Harmon; each of those losses, though, has now been addressed through the portal work that Elko has been able to do over this past month.
In contrast, things have been pretty hectic in T-Town when it comes to the portal following Nick Saban's retirement. The Tide have seen 26 outgoing transfers enter their names into the portal following the loss to Michigan in the Rose Bowl 16 days ago, and the transfer window will remain open until 30 days have elapsed since Saban announced his decision to step down.
Of course, not all of these players were big time contributors to the Alabama team, just like how not all the entries for Texas A&M football were guys who saw the field with consistency. Even so, there are some big names in this group. Caleb Downs, one of the best young players in America, has announced his intention to enter (he hasn't entered yet officially, so that 26 number doesn't even include him yet!).
Dezz Ricks, a former five-star who had next up in the Bama secondary after Arnold and McKinstry left, is transferring to Texas A&M football. Isaiah Bond, Amari Niblack, Roydell Williams, Earl Little, Shazz Preston, Seth McLaughlin, and Ja'Corey Brooks are several more names that have entered the portal. Alabama fans are not taking this well.
The Tide haven't exactly been able to fill those needs through the portal in the same way that Elko has, either. Ironically enough, two-thirds of their incoming portal class are Aggie players—of course, they currently boast a three-man portal class, so that's not saying much. Kalen DeBoer and company have their work cut out for them, as they are arriving far too late to pick up anyone from this initial window, and the spring window usually sees much less talent on the move.
What this does speak to, however, is the extremely impressive job that Elko did with the Aggie roster. The fear that many had as regards Jimbo's departure was that many of the luminaries for Texas A&M football would follow. The same was thought of Elijah Robinson. The way that Elko and company were able to step up and keep cohesion on the roster, given the benchmark of what is going on in Tuscaloosa, is nothing short of astounding.
Does this foretell a changing of the guard? It certainly could. It's hard to bet against Alabama right now, and it may be that way for the foreseeable future. DeBoer is certainly used to working with a lower level of talent, and even with the exodus that the Tide are currently experiencing, this should be by far his best roster yet.
Even so, I actually feel better about the Aggies' roster headed into next year than I do the Tide's, which is crazy to say. Mike Elko has masterfully managed this transition, and is still not done yet.