Our weekly position preview series rolls on as the 2022 season inches ever closer. We kicked it off with safeties, and last week String broke down the cornerbacks. Today, we look at linebackers, which just might be the biggest question mark on an otherwise loaded Texas A&M roster.
Who did we lose?
The good news is that the losses here are not catastrophic, with super ultra mega senior Aaron Hansford as the only notable departure. Hansford, who changed positions multiple times in his six years in College Station, finally found a home at linebacker in his final two years, and led the team in tackles in 2021 with 89. The only other departure is Antonio Doyle, who transferred to Jackson State after failing to crack the two-deep in his second season at A&M.
Wo do we bring back?
Texas A&M started only two linebackers in Mike Elko’s system, and that’s expected to be the case again in 2022 with new DC D.J. Durkin. With that in mind, your starters are almost certainly senior Andre White and RS sophomore Edgerrin Cooper. The two combined for 115 tackles in 2021 (58 for Cooper, 57 for White). Cooper, in particular, showed a knack for the big play, tallying 5.5 tackles for loss and an interception despite only starting one game. He earned Defensive Most Improved and the Defensive Aggie Award for strength & conditioning at the annual team banquet.
What other names should we know?
Behind White and Cooper are senior Chris Russell and RS junior Tarian Lee. While neither has seen a lot of meaningful playing time in past seasons, it is reassuring to know that if injury occurs, A&M has players with multiple years on campus ready to step in. They’ll also be joined by two true freshman blue chippers in Martrell Harris and Ish Harris, the latter of whom enrolled in January and reportedly was a standout in spring practice.
Overall Grade: B-
A&M has experienced starters, but if injury happens (or one of them simply fails to perform), you’re suddenly looking at starting a three-star player or a true freshman. On a roster seemingly stacked with blue chip talent across the board, this is perhaps the one position that could be viewed as a potential weakness. The Aggies aren’t BAD at linebacker by any means, but don’t look to be an elite position group either. This is precisely why A&M pursued Harold Perkins so heavily in the 2022 class (who ended up at LSU) and is doing the same with five-star LB Anthony Hill in 2023.