As we look to predict, who the best teams in college football will be, the Blue Chip Ratio is often referenced, and for good reason. The number of high level recruits is absolutely a prerequisite to being a great team. But in this era of metrics and analytics, often not enough attention is paid to having veteran players on your roster. Experience matters, development matters, and leadership matters. And in 2023, Texas A&M has one of the most veteran-laden teams they’ve fielded in quite some time.
This is illustrated by the fact that the Aggies had ELEVEN players named to the Reese’s Senior Bowl watchlist this week: LB Edgerrin Cooper, transfer CB Josh DeBerry, DE Fadil Diggs, transfer CB Tony Grimes, DT McKinnley Jackson, WR Moose Muhammad III, S Demani Richardson, OG Layden Robinson, WR Ainias smith and TE Max Wright.
You can add to that list of seniors with P Nik Constantinou, QB Max Johnson, RB Earnest Crownover, OL Aki Ogunbiyi, DL Isaiah Raikes, and DL Micah Overton, as well as transfer players like LB Jurriente Davis, RB David Bailey and OL Finn Dirstine, and Texas A&M has 20 players on scholarship who are in their fourth year (or more) of college football. That’s six more than they had in 2022, and most importantly, every one of those 4+ year players who started in 2022 has come back. In fact, the Aggies lost only one senior to graduation from their 2022 roster, that being LS Connor Choate (though several did seek greener pastures/more playing time in the transfer portal).
There is certainly precedent for experienced teams overachieving. Arkansas unexpectedly got to nine wins in 2021 on the back of a slew of super seniors. TCU last just last season won the Big 12 and made it to the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME in year one of a new coaching staff thanks in large part to a lot of very experienced players at the top of the roster.
Texas A&M has had talented teams before. We’ve had veteran teams before. I’m not sure we’ve seen an Aggie squad in recent memory have the combination of talent and veterans that this one has. As rough as the 2022 season was, having players who learned the tough lesson of that season, and are mature enough to apply them, can still be valuable. It also shouldn’t be overlooked that players like Ainias Smith, Ladyen Robinson, McKinnley Jackson and Demani Richardson had NFL prospects but chose to come back. Returning for one more season could absolutely bolster their respective draft stocks, but it also has the potential to take this A&M team to unexpected heights in 2023.