Texas A&M is around the halfway mark of fall camp, with the season opener against New Mexico now looming just 15 days away on Sept. 2. With this year’s team leading the SEC in returning production, they shouldn’t have to rely a ton on true freshman contributions the way they did a year ago, but that said, there are always freshmen who seem to find their way near the top of the depth chart, even on the best of teams. So who do we think might be the ones to do it? Based on the limited information that is publicly available, here’s who you might see getting snaps when the season kicks off.
Rueben Owens (RB)
This one should not come as a surprise. The five-star El Campo product enters a room with big shoes to fill following the loss of Devon Achane to the NFL, and it was always expected that he would compete for carries right away. While upperclassman Amari Daniels has seemed to take the bulk of first team reps, I think it’s fair to assume that Owens as well as sophomore Leveon Moss will also see the field early and often.
Chase Bistontis (OT)
Jimbo Fisher said that OL Chase Bisontis and OL Dametrious Crownover have stood out throughout camp thus far.— TexAgs (@TexAgs) August 14, 2023
Bisontis turned heads in spring ball while filling in for the injured Trey Zuhn. Now in fall camp, he has instead taken first team reps in place of Reuben Fatheree as he comes back from an injury he sustained at the end of spring practice. Ultimately Zuhn and Fatheree are the likely starters if they are healthy, but the Aggies learned last season how essential depth on the OL can be. If either of them goes down, Bisontis is a valuable insurance policy, and a very likely starter as early as next season.
D.J. Hicks (DT)
Texas A&M true freshman DJ Hicks pic.twitter.com/euXWNBA7rH— Brian Perroni (@Perroni247) August 3, 2023
Once again, it’s not all that bold to say that the five-star recruit should make his way onto the field. But with as loaded as this defensive line is, it would still be a bit of a surprise. McKinnley Jackson and Walter Nolen are assumed to be the starters, and are backed up by vets Isaiah Raikes/Albert Regis and redshirt freshman Gabriel Brownlow Dindy, but Hicks definitely looks the part of an SEC-ready linemen, even as a freshman. Don’t be shocked if he works his way into that rotation
Taurean York (LB)
Day 2 of camp, Taurean York is already 3rd on the depth chart behind Edgerrin Cooper and Chris Russell according to my reading in between the lines of warm up positions/drill positions— TreyReport (actual A&M insider) (@RD3_85) August 3, 2023
OK this one would be news. York was a three-star late addition to the Aggies’ 2023 recruiting class. Normally not the type of player you’d expect to see significant playing time in year one. But he has seemed to move his way up the depth chart in spring and fall camp (granted, it’s one of the easier depth charts to move up on this team). York is a bit undersized, but when you watch his high school highlights, he just seems to be a sure tackler who is always in the right place at the right time. Sometimes football IQ can overcome stature. If games started today, I think Edgerrin Cooper and Chris Russell are the starters. But a lot can change over the next two weeks, and even more over the course of the season.
Jayvon Thomas (CB)
Close look at Texas A&M freshman cornerback Jayvon Thomas, who continues to impress in preseason camp. pic.twitter.com/UXND7praR2— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) August 17, 2023
Bravion Rogers was the top-rated corner in the Aggies’ 2023 class, but it’s early enrollee Jayvon Thomas who appear to be making a push for a starting job. Many had assumed that transfer Tony Grimes would occupy the second starting corner position (opposite junior Tyreek Chappell). But in fall camp, it has been rumored to be more of a competition between Jayvon Thomas and another transfer, Boston College’s Josh DeBerry.
Dalton Brooks (S)
Demani Richardson #26 out-front looking good physically, but take a look at #25 Dalton Brooks. You wouldn’t know by this clip that he’s five years younger. Good looking physical specimen. pic.twitter.com/yeJnd3kHaO— David Sandhop (@HopWebsider) August 17, 2023
Brooks has a crowded room in front of him, with sophomore Bryce Anderson at the nickel spot and vets Demani Richardson and Jardin Gilbert at safety. But like York, Brooks’ high school highlights are him just constantly making plays. And unlike York, he has the measurables to accompany that production. At some point, he could be a guy who is difficult to keep off the field.
Which freshman do you think will make the biggest impact this season?
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