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NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Texas A&M

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Texas A&M leads all SEC teams in returning production for 2023

Portal exodus be darned.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M lost more players to the transfer portal than any other program following the 2022 season, so many would assume that those departures would mean a ton of lost production for A&M. Suffice to say, they’d be wrong.

ESPN’s Bill Connelly released his annual returning production rankings on Tuesday, and the Aggies’ numbers show what many who follow the program closely already knew: that this will be one of the most experienced teams in college football in 2023. According to Connelly’s numbers, the Aggies return 80% of their production from 2022, including 82% on offense and 77% on defense. That ranks No. 7 in the country, and within the SEC, no team brings more production back than the Aggies.

In addition to being No. 1 overall in the conference, A&M is No. 1 in returning offensive production and No. 2 in defensive production. (8th and 19th nationally, respectively).

SEC 2023 Returning Production

1 Texas A&M 80% 82% (1) 77% (2)
2 Missouri 78% 77% (4) 80% (1)
3 Auburn 71% 72% (6) 71% (3)
4 Ole Miss 71% 80% (3) 62% (6)
5 LSU 71% 81% (2) 60% (7)
6 Vanderbilt 65% 73% (5) 56% (8)
7 Tennessee 63% 57% (11) 69% (5)
8 Kentucky 63% 71% (7) 55% (9)
9 Georgia 61% 52% (13) 70% (4)
10 Miss. St. 57% 71% (8) 43% (13)
11 S. Carolina 55% 63% (9) 48% (12)
12 Arkansas 54% 58% (10) 51% (11)
13 Florida 54% 55% (12) 53% (10)
14 Alabama 40% 43% (14) 38% (14)

So how is this possible with so many portal losses? Simply put, while A&M lost a fair amount of star power, the vast majority of those players were depth pieces. That doesn’t mean they weren’t players A&M could have counted on in 2023 or future years, but there weren’t many significant contributors to the 2022 season who left the Aggies’ roster. In fact, of the 22 players who started the season-ending win over No. 5 LSU, 19 of them return (and the three who are gone are all off to the NFL Draft).

Granted, returning production isn’t always a guarantee of success. You can point to teams like TCU, Kansas and Florida State (9th, 10th and 11th in this ranking a year ago) to show veteran squads who took a big step forward, but you can just as easily look at BYU (No. 2), Stanford (No. 3) and NC State (No. 12) as teams who underachieved despite bringing back a lot of experience. Ultimately returning production just one variable among many that determine a team’s fate. But it’s an important reminder that perhaps you should not write off this A&M team so quickly in 2023.

  • A&M lost only two scholarship seniors to graduation (WR Jalen Preston and LS Connor Choate) thanks to the return of seniors Max Wright, Demani Richardson and Ainias Smith
  • This is the most returning production (80%) Jimbo Fisher has had since coming to College Station (though the 2020 squad came closest at 77%)
  • This is the first time since 2020 Texas A&M has an incumbent starting QB
  • This is the first time since 2020 the Aggies return their entire offensive line

I don’t think I need to remind you how the Aggies fared in 2020 (9-1, won the Orange Bowl and finished No. 4 in the country), and this team shares many of the hallmarks that made that one successful. It also might be even more talented.

Might things still go wrong for the Ags in 2023? Of course. Locker room issues that contributed to the 2022 failures could linger. A lack of depth (the real victim of the transfer portal) could make everyday injuries seem catastrophic. The Bobby Petrino hire could go down in flames. But if this team does fall short again this season, it isn’t because of a lack of experience.


How do you feel about A&M’s returning production numbers?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    (130 votes)
  • 55%
    Optimistic for a bounce back year
    (423 votes)
  • 20%
    I’ll believe it matters when I see it
    (156 votes)
  • 7%
    It means nothing, eat at Arby’s.
    (56 votes)
765 votes total Vote Now

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