Injuries are a part of football. Jimbo Fisher’s squad has reportedly gone through fall campu thus far with no significant injuries, but no team will go through a season without players getting hurt. All you can do is hope that they injuries aren’t season-ending, and that you’re lucky enough to have them happen at positions where your roster’s depth can absorb the blow.
In 2021, Texas A&M was far from fortunate with their injury luck. They entered the season thin at QB and OL, and those happened to be the two positions hit the hardest by injury. Starting QB Haynes King lasted less than 4.5 quarters before a season-ending leg injury, and freshman QB Eli Stowers reportedly had an injury that preventing him from throwing effectively, which why he transitioned to tight end. On the offensive line, a unit that was already replacing four starters from the previous year lost their starting center before the season ever started, and played musical chairs at guard for much of the first half of the season. The result was shaky play at both positions that cost the Aggies games.
So looking forward to 2022, what are the positions where the Aggies might be vulnerable to injury? Which ones are strengths? We rank them from deepest to thinnest.
The Aggies bring back one of the strongest cornerback trios in the country in juniors Jaylon Jones/Antonio Johnson and sophomore Tyreek Chappell. But these guys are also backed up by 5th-year seniors Myles Jones and Brian George. That’s fleshed out by Deuce Harmon and Josh Moten, as well as talented true freshmen Denver Harris and Smoke Bouie. Needless to say, A&M has a wealth of options at a position that felt like it had been thin for the better part of a decade.
2. Defensive Line
The Aggies were already well-built along the defensive front prior to the 2022 recruiting class. After bringing in arguably the best defensive line class of all time, they are absolutely STACKED. The projected starting four appears to be Tunmise Adileye, McKinnley Jackson, Shemar Turner and Fadil Diggs, but they’ll be spelled by an equally potent group of players like Anthony Lucas, Shemar Stewart, Marcus Burriss, Isaiah Raikes and Walter Nolen, to name a few. The Aggies will likely rotate these players consistently, but even if several go down to injury, they’re unlikely to see a significant drop off in performance.
3. Wide Receiver
This is another position where recent recruiting has significantly upgraded both the top-end talent and the depth at this position. Seniors Ainias Smith/Chase Lane and freshman Evan Stewart appear to be your starters, but Jalen Preston, Moose Muhammed, Yulkieth Brown and freshmen Noah Thomas/Chris Marshall give the Aggies a wealth of options they have not had in years past.
This feels so strange to say after what we endured in 2021, but I believe it to be true. Just a year after A&M spent the majority of the season with a walk-on as their backup QB, they now have one of the deepest QB rooms in the SEC. The depth chart is topped by third-year players Haynes King/Max Johnson, but even beyond those two options, you have a five-star true freshman in Conner Weigman and sophomore Eli Stowers (who is once again practicing with the QBs after spending 2021 at TE). That’s four blue-chip scholarship QBs, something not many teams can boast. Oh also there’s Bost.
5. Tight End
The Aggies are breaking in a new starter following the departure of Jalen Wydermyer, but they have no shortage of options. Senior Max Wright appears entrenched as the starter for the time being, but he is joined by fellow veterans Blake Smith and Fernando Garza, as well as an insanely talented trio of true freshmen in Jake Johnson, Donovan Green and Theodor Ohrstrom. There’s a good chance one of these freshmen move into a starting role by the end of the season either way, so this is a position where A&M is likely happy with the depth.
6. Offensive Line
The line depth could always be better, but the coaches have to be thrilled with their depth compared to a year ago when they were forced to start two true freshmen. Players with starting experience include tackles Reuben Fatheree and Blake Trainor, guards Layden Robinson and Aki Ogunbiyi and center Bryce Foster. That said, it appears RS freshman Trey Zuhn will take the LT spot opposite Fatheree, and Jordan Moko and Matthew Wykoff have also performed well enough in practice to merit consideration as well. Josh Bankhead are other depth pieces that could plug a hole if need be. Freshman Kam Dewberry likely won’t see the field much this year, but is the type of freshman that probably would have in previous seasons, which alone testifies to the improved depth at this position.
7. Running Back
This team will likely rely heavily on the skills of starter Devon Achane. He brings a skill set that nobody else on the team possesses, which is why the position group is so low on this list. That said, if the worst happens and Achane misses time, A&M is also far from in dire straits. He is backed up by junior Amari Daniels and sophomore L.J. Johnson, both of whom have some ability in their limited work in 2021 and in the spring. That group is also bolstered by Earnest Crownover (who is more a fullback or goal line back) and freshman Leveon Moss. While you would see a dip if Achane goes down, it’s not like they’ll be trotting me out there.
It’s hard to believe that A&M would be thin at linebacker when they only start two of them in their 4-2-5 scheme, but here we are. If something happens to starters Edgerrin Cooper or Andre White, you’re looking at starting players with less talent as well as less experience. First off the bench would likely be upperclassmen Chris Russell and Tarian Lee. Both have been on campus a long time, but don’t have the elite pedigree of most linebackers in the SEC. Beyond them, you’re likely looking at one of the true freshmen in Ish Harris, Martrell Harris or Enai White (a converted DE who just started working with LBs this week at practice). Needless to say, if we see White in at LB, he has either picked up the position incredibly well/fast, or we have seen an absolute injury apocalypse for our backers.
It was tempting to put linebacker here, but whenever your backups consist of almost exclusively true freshmen, that’s a scary thought (no matter who talented they are). And that’s exactly the situation for the A&M safeties. Senior Demani Richardson is as reliable as them come, and he looks to be joined in the starting lineup by sophomore Jardin Gilbert. But if one of them suffers an injury, you’re likely seeing Bryce Anderson or Jacoby Mathews jogging onto the field. Both of these guys are top 100 recruits, mind you, but true freshmen are still true freshmen.