What does the future hold for the Texas A&M Aggies?
Texas A&M is one of those schools steeped in football. Any Texan with a commitment to history and big party has been to a bonfire in College Station, sanctioned or unsanctioned. But what will the Aggies do on the football field this season? Home of the 12th man, Texas A&M football is never boring, and it should bring some interesting excitement to the SEC West this year.
This is Kevin Sumlin’s fifth year as head coach of the Aggies. In his tenure, he’s made some spectacular hires into coordinator positions – he scooped up John Chavis from LSU and Moel Mazzone from UCLA. Those hires in themselves bring a wealth of knowledge and talent to a football team that lacks neither. Is Texas A&M expected to kick up a lot of dust in the SEC West this year? Not really. They could be a potential dark horse, but the safe bet is that they will have an average season and will break .500 by a couple of games.
After a quarterback battle last year that led to both Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray transferring prior to the bowl game last year, this year the Aggies actually have some promise of stability in transfer quarterback Trevor Knight. Knight came to the Aggies from Oklahoma, where he was the starting quarterback for two seasons before losing his job to Baker Mayfield. He made the decision to spend his senior season with the College Station faithful.
The Aggies are putting a lot of hope in this quarterback, hoping he will revive his career with Texas A&M. He’ll have a familiar face on the field in running back Keith Ford, who also transferred from Oklahoma, plus the fact that he has a receiving corp that is second to none. With four starters returning from last year, he has top talent on his side. Led by Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds, Knight should have no problem finding someone to connect with. Where there are some question marks is with the offensive line. They lost three studs last season and had replacements in the form of unproven talents. While A&M traditionally recruits well for their offensive line, the hard part now is finding a capable starter at center.
John Chavis’ addition to the defensive coordinator position brought some welcomed enhancements to the Aggie defense. With seven starters returning who already have an understanding of Chavis’s defensive scheme, we could see the defense improving even more this season.
Even while losing both starting defensive tackles, the Aggies seem to be in good hands with sophomores Kingsley Keke and Daylon Mack. Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall secure any doubt in their defensive ends. At the linebacker position, senior Shaan Washington returns with the help of sophomores Otaro Alaka and Richard Moore. Though this might sound promising, even this string of talent could open up some weaknesses that can be exploited by Texas A&M opponents.
The secondary is in good shape this season. Senior safety Armani Watts, who led the team last season with 126 tackles, returns. With free safety Justin Evans and cornerback Priest Williams (a transfer from UCLA), they look ready for this season.
Things sound good in College Station, right? Well, where some concern falls is in the quarterback position. Although Trevor Knight comes with a lot of experience, he is also a commodity. His struggle while at Oklahoma is known, and defenses know how to react to his play. If he is able to revive himself and create opportunities for the offense, the doubt cast around him could disappear and the Aggies’ potential to have an excellent season is likely. At this juncture, though, cautious optimism would be the safe bet.
Texas A&M has a pretty tempered schedule. Riding high on a winning streak, including a hard-fought win against UCLA in overtime and a 67-0 shutout of Prairie View, the Aggies could be in a position to create some sparks. Arkansas, Tennessee, Ole Miss and LSU, however, will be monumental forces that will do everything they can to stand in their way. Games against Auburn, South Carolina and Mississippi could produce some wins for the Aggies, but the Crimson Tide will undoubtedly be a battle of wills.
Aggie football has the potential to bring some excitement in the SEC West. Honestly, quarterback Trevor Knight is a large determinant of this season’s success or failure. Riding off of a two-game high, let’s hope the streak continues and the Aggies strike gold.