If Texas A&M hopes to bounce back from a disastrous 5-7 season in 2022, improved offensive line play has to be a big part it next season. They got a big piece to that puzzle on Thursday afternoon, as junior guard Layden Robinson announced he will return to Aggieland for his senior season.
While Robinson’s draft stock likely fell slightly due to the Aggies’ poor season (and in particular the A&M line play), some still had him rated highly enough to be a potential day two NFL Draft pick. But it seems he would rather return and raise his stock even higher, and hopefully end his A&M career on a more successful note.
Robinson’s return means the Ags will be bringing EVERY lineman who played significant snaps back from 2022, including tackles Reuben Fatheree and Trey Zuhn, centers Bryce Foster and Matthew Wykoff, and guards Aki Ogunbiyi, Jordan Moko and Kam Dewberry.
This is huge for a squad who struggled mightily last season due to a new position coach, youth, injuries and the lack of continuity that resulted from the confluence of all three. And while it might seem like having the same line that was so much of a problem last season wouldn’t be good news, it’s important to remember how much another year of development and playing together can pay huge dividends for an offensive line. For an example of this, you can look no further that what the Maroon Goons did in 2019 and 2020 (Jimbo Fisher’s second and third seasons). In 2019, the line was the unquestioned weak point of the team, finishing outside the top 100 nationally in sacks allowed and making Kellen Mond look like he had regressed en route to an 8-5 season. A year later, the same five players were the backbone of a team that went 9-1 en route to finishing No. 4 in the country, allowing only seven sacks in 10 games, good for 8th in the country.
After learning earlier this week that safety Demani Richardson will be back next season, the one player the Aggies are still waiting on an announcement from is now senior WR Ainias Smith, who missed most of the 2022 season after injuring his ankle in the Arkansas game. Due to the COVID season not counting against eligibility, he can opt to return for one more year if he so chooses.