I go back and forth between being angry at both Golden and Claiborne to feeling a pretty deep level of sadness for them. I'm angry because they squandered their opportunity in the worst possible way, and because they left Aggie Football in a pretty difficult situation for next season.
I feel sad for them, but not in a sympathetic way, mind you. They got themselves into this mess and good riddance to bad apples and whatnot. Instead, I'm sad because both had NFL talent but now each is merely a statistic. I get even sadder when I think about the fact that both have young children who are now going to spend a decent amount of time without their fathers. The entire situation just sucks on multiple levels.
And while what's going on with them is bigger than football, I'm going to focus on the football part of it. Losing the two of them leaves a pretty big hole in our defense—a group that struggled mightily last year. Let's take a look at what Texas A&M's post dismissal defensive roster looks like:
I've had this spreadsheet for a while, so pardon me if I missed anything. Let me know in the comments and I'll make corrections. Here are some quick thoughts:
- The two seniors on our defensive line (Stansbury and Robinson) are both in tenuous positions: Stansbury due to his alleged legal issues and Robinson due to injury issues.
- I kind of feel okay about our secondary. We've got a good combination of experience and talent there. The safety position is still a concern, (edited to remove blurb about Justin Evans who wont be here until 2015--thanks to Mark Passwaters for the heads up) but hopefully new DB coach Terry Joseph will help Howard Matthews and Floyd Raven achieve their significant amount of potential.
- Linebackers are unproven. Guys like Shaan Washington and Jordan Mastrogiovanni saw a decent amount of playing time, but they're still green. We really need for A.J. Hilliard to step into his role with ease...and how great will it be if this is the year that the light comes on for Tommy Sanders?
- We're in a better spot on the defensive line with more depth...but the story of the Aggie defense is that the depth is talented but incredibly young. I'd be surprised if any of our 2014 signees in this group redshirted.
- I was panicking a bit about DT until I remembered that Hardreck Walker has the potential and ability to be a star. A DT rotation of Robinson (hopefully), Walker, Henderson, and Washington isn't terrible. Henderson being an early enrollee might be the best thing to have happened to the A&M defense in 2014. The quicker he gets up to game speed, the better our defense will be.
Part of me wants to believe that Snyder will somehow adjust to the personnel he has, but he is who he is. We are still going to have exotic blitzes, and we are still going to require our players to play on an island...regardless of position. Here's hoping that our new enrollees are able to pick up the defense quickly.
Those are my thoughts. Take a look at the spreadsheet and let me know what you think about A&M's 2014 defensive outlook in the comments.