Texas A&M football spring position preview: LB boasts a star and a question mark

The middle of the defense for Texas A&M football was a huge plus for the Aggies in 2023. Will they regress in the upcoming season?
Nov 25, 2023; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA;  LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) calls for the
Nov 25, 2023; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) calls for the / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M football spring position preview: Linebacker will be anchored by York, but who joins him?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: one of the biggest bright spots from last season for Texas A&M football was the linebacker position. Behind the play of the now-departed Edgerrin Cooper—whose stock rose so much over the course of this past year that he is now knocking on the door of the first round of the NFL Draft—and freshman Taurean York, the middle of the Aggie defense was quite stout.

Of course, as I say, Cooper is now gone. York, however, remains—and despite his youth, he projects to be one of the best in the country at his position. With the heads-up, aggressive play of the former three-star, the Aggies are well-equipped to boast yet another solid linebacker unit.

That is, if they can find a fit running mate for York. And that remains an open question.

The Aggies brought in an impressive class at LB in 2024, thanks to the work of the previous and current staffs. Despite the signing-day flip of Tyanthony Smith to the Longhorns, you have to like what the Aggies got out of their four signees: freshmen Tristan Jernigan and Jordan Lockhart both have tremendous upside, while transfers Alex Howard and Scooby Williams both bring intrigue with their proven potential.

Howard is the guy for whom I have been beating the drum this spring. Though he is coming from lowly Youngstown State, I still think this is a guy that can contribute. He’s kind of like York insofar as he appears to have a great mind for the game, is decisive, and a sure tackler. I wouldn’t sleep on the potential for him to start.

Then, you have Scooby Williams. His time at Florida was a bit of a rollercoaster: he was a huge recruiting win for the Gators and had some great games, but really struggled near the end of last year. I think he will be best utilized as a hybrid linebacker and edge rusher, but perhaps Bateman can unlock some of his potential as a true MLB.

Jernigan and Lockhart both bring skillsets that have Aggie fans dreaming of what could be one day, but I’m not sure either is ready to contribute right away. If each can push for a starting spot, that would be good as far as competition goes, but I think this team may not be reaching its potential if it ends up that one of them is a season-long starter, barring some huge leap.

Then, you have the guys from previous years. Daymion Sanford is an athletic beast who could really make some noise if he puts it all together. Could his redshirt freshman year be that time? Possibly.

Martrell Harris, one of the less-heralded signings in the 2022 class, is another guy to watch closely. He came in with supreme athletic gifts, but needing to be molded in his technique. After two years on campus, could the return of Elko precipitate more play time for the former four-star? We’ll have to wait and see.

If I had to place my bets on one of these guys alone, I’d give the nod to Howard at this point. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Williams, Harris, or even Sanford touch the field in some meaningful capacity this fall.