The seventh spot in our College Football Preseason rankings belongs to the Texas A&M Aggies. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has this storied program firing on all cylinders, even in arguably the toughest conference in the nation. Is this the year that A&M can finally get past Alabama in the SEC West?
Even though the Aggies have to find a new QB this year, expectations are at an all-time high in College Station. Here’s a closer look at the 2021 Texas A&M Aggies.
Fisher and the entire Aggies coaching staff are going to miss Kellen Mond quite a bit. Mond was a four-year starter for Texas A&M and a third-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings. Redshirt freshman Haynes King appears to be Mond’s heir apparent under center. King has plenty of talent but may struggle early against the speed of SEC defenses.
Running back Isaiah Spiller is the most explosive player on the Aggies offense. The Doak Walker Award semi-finalist ran for 1,036 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago (Sports-Reference.com). With such an inexperienced player at QB, expect coach Fisher to give Spiller more carries than ever in 2021.
Ainias Smith returns at wide receiver for the Aggies this season. The 5-10 190 pounder from Sugarland, Texas, led A&M in receiving yards last year with 564. Tight end Jalen Wydermyer led the team in receptions last year with 46 and was named to the AP 2021 Preseason All-America Team.
The Aggies defense will be strong again in 2021. Last year’s unit finished second in the country in rush defense by only allowing 92 yards per contest. With lots of returning starters coming back along the defensive line, opponents will once again find it difficult to have much success on the ground against A&M.
DeMarvin Leal is one of the best defensive ends in the country and he’ll be a key piece to the Aggies defense this year. The 6-4 290 pounder led the team in quarterback hurries a year ago. Micheal Clemons plays the other end position and he had four sacks in 2020.
The A&M secondary has some playmakers but they looked mediocre at times last year. This year’s secondary should be much improved since three out of the five starters are upperclassmen. Free safety Leon O’Neal Jr. led the team in interceptions last year with two and also made 48 tackles.
2021 Special Teams
Seth Small returns as the starting kicker for the Aggies in 2021. The senior made 11 out of 13 field-goal attempts and 41 of 42 extra-point attempts in 2020. Nik Constantinou will once again handle the punting duties for A&M after averaging 40.5 yards per punt last year.
Chase Lane is the Aggies’ best kick return man. Lane and Jalen Preston should both see time in that role in 2021. Ainias Smith is a dangerous punt returner who can provide a spark on special teams.