The coaching staff has assembled one of the best (if not the best) signing classes in Aggie Football history. The major focuses in this class on the defensive side of the ball were pass rushers and ball hawks in the secondary. Let's take a look at some of these key defenders who signed with the Aggies and discuss what they will bring to the Aggie defense in the future.
Gilmer High School, Gilmer, TX -- 6'1" 225 lbs., 247 Sports Composite 11th Ranked LB, 22th Ranked Player in Texas, 179rd Overall, Billy Liucci's Top 44 Member (#22 Overall)
Josh Walker has been committed to Texas A&M for so long, many tend to overlook this linebacker signee. However, he may be one of the highest rated linebackers the Aggies have signed in some time.
Josh Walker - #20 - Gilmer (TX) (via MaxPreps High School Sports)
Strengths -- I really like Walker's straight line acceleration. You can see this in some of his running back highlights. He is explosive out of his stance and really attacks the line of scrimmage. He is a rangy linebacker who can be a headhunter. This explosiveness will also be effective in pass rushing situations and in some of Mark Snyder's delayed blitzes, designed to have pass rushing lanes already clear for a player like Walker to run through and sack the QB.
Weaknesses -- I really worry about him getting lost in the wash of blockers against the opponent's run game. He uses good angles, but will he run through run blockers instead of trying to run around them? A lot of young linebackers have this problem of trying to get to the ball carrier as quick as they can and end up taking themselves out of play by trying to run around potential blockers. I also wonder how effective he could be in block shedding if a lineman gets his hands into his body. He is not as long as Alaka is. His game is going to be to beat the blocker before the blocker gets to him. That is why I think his best position is probably WILL.
Outlook -- A big question for Walker will be where does he play? Honestly he could be any of the three linebacker positions. I thought for a long time he would come in and be a SAM linebacker, but with Alaka signed, he could try to play at MIKE or WILL. I believe he will be better on the outside than on the inside because that is where he played a lot of time in high school. How fast he sees the field will really be determined on how the other linebackers already on campus develop in the spring and entering into the fall. This one really is a toss up.
Cypress Falls High School, Houston, TX -- 6'3" 210 lbs., 247 Sports Composite 16th Ranked LB, 26th Ranked Player in Texas, 223rd Overall, Billy Liucci's Top 44 Member (#21 Overall)
Texas A&M signed its second linebacker for 2014 in former Texas Longhorn pledge Otaro Alaka. Alaka continues A&M's dominance in Houston and most importantly brings a much needed pass rushing skill set to the Aggie linebacker position.
Otaro Alaka (via Big 12 Recruiting)
Strengths -- Length, length, length. Alaka is physically gifted with the best length I have seen for a linebacker in recent memory. This length allows him to extend blockers as seen in his highlight video allowing for easy block shedding to make plays against the opponents run game. In pass rushing, this length will also allow him to create enough separation from a pass blocker to get to the quarterback. His frame will allow him to add a lot of weight and get him heavier than 205 lbs. which he is currently listed.
Weaknesses -- You know I can honestly say I don't see many from watching his film. I would like to see more film of him in pass coverage as he looks a little stiff and not yet fluid in space. I also wonder how well he could cover an athletic tight end on 1-v-1 in man coverage.
Outlook -- Right now, this A&M roster lacks true SAM or strong side linebackers. Texas A&M didn't utilize this position much in 2013 because it spent a majority of the time in a nickel package. However, having a SAM is critical to be able to line up against a power run team like Alabama or LSU. Alaka is perfect for this position. Therefore, I believe he could play right away as a true freshman. He could also provide a much needed pass rush for Mark Snyder on passing downs.
Texas A&M signed two of the best three linebackers in the state of Texas. They finally got a true SAM linebacker and another versatile player who could really play any of the three positions. Still, I see these two guys as players who should stick on the outside, and not on the inside at MIKE. A true MIKE is a need that has been left unfilled. There are a few guys on campus who could play MIKE, but they are unproven and still green. Missing out on a player like Kenny Young really stings in creating depth at this important position. I'll give this group a B+.