Texas A&M National Signing Day Preview: Defensive Line

Myles Garrett brings the promise of a pass rush to College Station - Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Much-needed reinforcements arrive up front, headlined by the #2 player in the country.

After a 2013 campaign that saw the A&M defense finish 90th nationally in sacks, and 99th in tackles for loss, it's hard to imagine there were many priorities that ranked higher than developing a pass rush in 2014. Fortunately for the Aggies, defensive line coach Terry Price is one of the strongest recruiters on staff, and managed a haul that, when combined with the 2013 recruiting class, should give the A&M defense a significant upgrade in just about every metric possible.

Defensive Tackle

Zaycoven Henderson

Best Case Scenario: The 6'2", 310 pound Henderson is yet another refugee from the Chuck Strong decommitment train, choosing the Aggies out of nowhere mere days before enrolling in College Station. He represents one of the rarest specimens found in the recruiting landscape - a highly decorated, fully qualified, early enrollee defensive tackle - and his bulk and strength should allow him to challenge for snaps at the 1-technique relatively early. A space-clogger of the highest order, Zay has the opportunity to combine with Isiah Golden to form a nasty 1-2 punch at noseguard for the next three years.

Worst Case Scenario: Much like the Otoro Alaka commitment, there's not too much downside in very publicly taking a kid away from your biggest recruiting rival, especially one sharp enough to enroll early and learn the defense. Henderson isn't as explosive as some of the other DT's being brought in over the last two classes, but his job will be to take on double teams, provide depth up front, and laugh at Texas not signing a defensive tackle since approximately 2007.

DeShawn Washington

Best Case Scenario: At 6'2" and 290 pounds, Washington represents an ideal 3-tech defensive tackle with an explosive first step, great hands, and a rather sweet old-school mini fro. Much like Henderson, Washington has the ability to see playing time early and often, with serious All-Conference potential as his body matures.

Worst Case Scenario: DeShawn isn't the longest of tackles, presenting some worry that much additional weight will sap him of the suddenness that made him such a disruptive high school player. There's also the harrowing possibility that some college girlfriend will convince him to shave his head, tearing away from us that sweet, sweet Kobe-circa 1999 look.

Video Battle DeShawn Washington (Texas A&M commit) vs Zaycoven Henderson (TCU commit) (via Justin Simons)


Defensive End

Qualen Cunningham

Best Case Scenario: Choosing A&M over offers from the entire west coast, including such luminaries as UCLA, USC, Washington, and Oregon, the Aggie legacy is the smallest of the three defensive end commits, but the most likely to stay on the weakside as he grows into his 6'3", 225 pound body. Cunningham already boasts a litany of advanced pass rush moves, and has a great chance to see the field in 2014 as a 3rd down specialist, as well as the type of talent to start at weakside end for several years.

Worst Case Scenario: Projecting weight onto undersized pass rushers is a perilous game in the SEC; on the other hand, his father finished his career checking in at around 6'7" and 305 pounds, so perhaps Qualen achieves optimum size quicker than any of us are assuming.

#2 DE Qualen Cunningham Hamilton High School Junior Football Highlights Class of 2014 (via Steven Oliver)



Jarrett Johnson

Best Case Scenario: The least heralded of the Aggies' three defensive end commits, Johnson chose A&M over Texas and OU close to a year ago. Weighing close to 250 pounds when he checked in on his official visit, the District 19-5A Defensive MVP could use a redshirt year to work on his strength a bit, then come out firing as a Redshirt Freshman in 2015. Johnson has the potential to be a multi-year starter anywhere from end to tackle depending how much he grows over the next 24 months.

In another best case scenario, the most lightly recruited member of this defensive line class was a district MVP, and boasted offers from A&M and Texas. What a difference a Kevin Sumlin maketh.

Worst Case Scenario: Johnson put on over 30 pounds his senior year, and could quickly find himself lacking the first step burst that attracted so many college coaches in the first place. He could also really use a year in the weight room, plus it might be to Johnson's advantage to gain a year of eligibility separation from our next commit. Speaking of.

Myles Garrett

Best Case Scenario: Oh, it's all on the table here. The #2 player in the country, Garrett is 6'4", a chiseled 250 pounds, runs a legitimate 4.7, boasts an amazing first step, a dizzying array of pass rush moves, and finished his senior year with a smooth 20 sacks. He doesn't have the length of a Jadeveon Clowney, but in almost every other respect the Class 5A Defensive Player of the Year measures up quite well.

A best case scenario for the Arlington Martin product probably includes an All-American campaign and the #1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft; most A&M fans will settle for some semblance of a pass rush starting in Columbia, South Carolina this August.

Worst Case Scenario: In spite of his pedigree, defensive end is an extraordinarily difficult place for true freshmen to make an impact with Clowney being the exception, not the rule. The hype with Garrett is immense, and the pressure of improving a truly miserable pass rush might be too much to bear alone until further help arrives.

Myles Garrett (via SEC Recruiting)


Here's one more video of Garrett we found from late in his senior year

Godzilla Music Video (via Sic's Space)


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