With Fall Camp under way and the 2019 Texas A&M Roster released, football is just around the corner. The darkness of the offseason is being lifted and the bright light of hope that is the start of a new season is knocking on the door. No more dreary offseason content about Fulmer Cup contenders, the latest pissing match between in-state rivals (or maybe non-rivals, I can never decide if we care about them or not), or who does or doesn’t get a championship ring. Let’s talk actual football.
Texas A&M has one of the most difficult schedules in the country in 2019, playing several teams ranked in the preseason Top 25 including Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, and LSU who are all included in the Top 10. The Aggies will have to rely on a talented roster that has its fair share of question marks. I’ll start my breakdown of the 2019 Texas A&M roster by previewing what is likely the strongest group on paper, the defensive tackles.
In defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s defense, everything starts with the defensive tackles maintaining gap integrity. During the 2018 season, Daylon Mack and Justin Madubuike were an incredibly reliable duo inside. Justin Madubuike will have to step up in 2019 with Daylon Mack moving on, but the gifted three-technique is an incredible athlete with a high football IQ. I expect the McKinney North product to take his game to the next level this season and I’m not the only one as many national pundits have him pegged as a breakout star.
Bobby Brown III
Replacing Mack at the nose will likely be Bobby Brown III, a sophomore who spent his freshman year at defensive end. I remember being blown away by Brown’s strength during 2018. With a full off-season in Texas A&M’s strength program and an added 25 pounds of mass, Brown should be a terror at nose. Mack’s experience at the position was invaluable but I would be surprised if there was a drop off in production with Brown taking over the position.
Jayden Peevy spent most of 2018 as a reserve defensive tackle, coming in for Daylon Mack sporadically in order to keep fresh legs on the field. At 6’6 290, Peevy is mountain of a man who is surprisingly quick for his size. That length isn’t always a good thing on the interior as it makes it difficult for Peevy to maintain a low pad level at all times. However, in pass rushing situations, Peevy’s quickness and length are huge assets. He can create mismatches with interior offensive linemen who simply aren’t as used to dealing with his unique set of skills. As long as he can continue to improve his pad level in run defense as he did in 2018, Peevy will be a big contributor at the position.
After the top three of Madubuike, Brown, and Peevy, things get a little murkier at defensive tackle. I was expecting Mohammed Diallo to provide some quality depth at the position but the Canadian prospect elected to enter the transfer portal. TD Moton has moved on as well reducing the depth at the position even more. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom.
Texas A&M signed a talented defensive line class for 2019, including two defensive tackles in Derick Hunter and Adarious Jones, as well as DeMarvin Leal who has the athleticism and size to play either inside or outside. Hunter seems the most ready of the three to contribute on the inside considering he went through spring ball with the Aggies. Leal arrived on campus during spring as well, but missed the entirety of spring practice due to a knee injury. While I think his future at A&M is bright, I wouldn’t be surprised if he contributed as an end in 2019 and it may take longer considering he’s returning from injury. As for Jones, he’s a little more of a mystery to me as I haven’t seen him on the field at A&M yet. His high school film was impressive but I’m not ready to slot him as a contributor just yet.
As far as veteran depth, Josh Rogers is the only name on the roster at defensive tackle with experience who I haven’t already mentioned. Rogers saw some playing time during his freshman season but thanks to the new redshirt rules, he was able to redshirt in 2018 while also getting experience in four games. I’m not sure how much of a contributor the Houston Christian product will be in 2019 but he definitely has the size to be a factor. It’s just a matter of him taking his game to the next level.
What should we expect?
Considering the talent at the position, A&M should be confident in their defensive tackle group for 2019. With the youth at the linebacker position, Mike Elko will rely on Madubuike, Brown, and Peevy to lighten the load for the LBs and stuff the run. Should those three stay healthy, I’d expect A&M to have another great year against the run. However, if the injury bug does bite at defensive tackle, A&M will have to rely on some youth and inexperience at the position.
Next up in this series I will take on the offensive line, stay tuned!