It's difficult to overstate just how devastating the loss of Kirby Ennis was in the fourth game of the 2013 season. To compete in college football's toughest division, depth, leadership, and ability are paramount on the defensive line. After a very strong 2012 season alongside Damontre Moore and Spencer Nealy, it was Ennis' turn to anchor the defense in 2013.
We all know how things played out for the young, much-maligned 2013 Aggie defense. A unit that was learning difficult lessons on the fly was absent Kirby's experience and leadership for the lion's share of conference play and the results were dismal.
Despite having his career hampered by two significant injuries, Kirby Ennis was a tremendous defensive asset during his four years of eligibility. As a true freshman out of Huntsville in 2009, Ennis saw significant action in 12 games. Defensive linemen are usually expected to redshirt as freshmen so their bodies can grow and develop to meet the demands of the college game, but Ennis added immediate value. An injury in the Independence Bowl against Georgia forced Ennis to miss the entire 2010 season.
The injury did little to hamper Ennis' development as a interior standout rock on the Aggies' defensive line. Stats rarely tell the story for defensive tackles. Ennis certainly passed all the eye tests in 2011 as a prominent presence in shutting down running games and opening holes for linebackers to make plays.
2012 brought the move to the Southeastern Conference and players like Spencer Nealy and Kirby Ennis were going to be heavily relied upon to elevate their games to meet the fierce assignments presented by mammoth offensive lines and power running attacks. Prior to the 2012 game in Tuscaloosa, I remember remarking that for the Ags to have even a shot at winning, Nealy and Ennis were going to have to play the games of their lives against the Crimson Tide. Johnny stole the show, but Nealy and Ennis were absolutely crucial in that win. Kirby tallied a career-high 7 stops (4 solo) with a sack.
Kirby Ennis has been a standout on the field and in the classroom during his time in Aggieland. We'll be pulling like hell for you during your Pro Day workout tomorrow, Kirby. Thanks for repping the maroon and white so well. Gig 'em.