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Texas A&M Football

Up or Down: Where each Texas A&M position group should trend in 2022

January 13, 2022

There is a theory that nothing ever stays the same.

A car can idle only so long until it runs out of gas. Someone can tread water but will eventually either sink or get back in the boat. The hottest trends inevitably run out of style.

Of course, the same goes for football teams. They get better or they get worse. They don’t stay the same.

They move up and down like arrows on a stock chart. Texas A&M’s arrow had been on the incline until a rash of injuries, including one that claimed starting quarterback Haynes King in Week Two vs. Colorado.

Most analysts would agree the Aggies are still on an upward trend. That optimism is based on the return of several players, including King, from the 8-4 team of 2021. It’s also based on the continued inflow of talent from the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class.

Indeed, believe the Aggies will continue climbing upward toward a championship run in 2023 when those players from the celebrated recruiting class are experienced and making major impacts.

But why wait? The Aggies beat Alabama last season with a backup quarterback, two freshmen starting on the offensive line and another backup starting at guard.

Despite those issues — and injuries at receiver and cornerback — the Aggies were in position to win or tie in the fourth quarter in each of their losses.

A&M is closer to championship level than many might realize. The Aggies can be legitimate contenders in 2022.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
King was lost early in 2021 due to a broken ankle. A quarterback battle with Max Johnson and Conner Weigman appears to be on the horizon.

That is if they continue moving upward.

With that in mind, here’s a position-by-position look at where the Aggies appear to be trending upward and downward.

QUARTERBACK (Up): Yes, the departed Zach Calzada starred in a victory over Alabama, but he was very average in other games. Subtracting the Alabama game, he completed 54.8 percent of his attempts for 1,900 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. More productivity can be expected from a healthy Haynes King. That is if King beats out LSU transfer Max Johnson, who passed for 2,814 yards and 27 touchdowns last season. Freshman Conner Weigman might not be ready in 2022 but very well could be the most talented of them all.

RUNNING BACK (Up): Blasphemy, right? Departed Isaiah Spiller is off to the NFL, will be a high draft choice and a productive player for years. How can you justify losing him and getting better?

Admittedly, that’s a difficult sale. Yet, I’m sold on Devon Achane as a Heisman Trophy contender. Achane rushed for 910 yards on just 130 attempts for a 7-yard per carry average. He also had 11 runs that covered 20 yards or more. Missouri’s Tyler Baddie was the only SEC back with more (13), but he also more than doubled Achane’s carries (268). More carries from Achane equates to more big plays. When Achane needs a rest, the Aggies can turn to Amari Daniels, LJ Johnson and/or incoming freshman Le’Veon Moss.

RECEIVERS (Up): Ainias Smith’s decision to forgo the NFL draft ensures the receiving corps will be better. He has been a consistently productive threat. Demond Demas projects to be improved in his second year as a starter. Caleb Chapman just needs to stay healthy. Chapman has averaged 15 yards per catch the last two seasons but has missed more games (13) than he has played (9). Junior Chase Lane has been a productive starter. Jalen Preston showed he can be a play-maker with two touchdowns against LSU. Moose Muhammad also demonstrated his ability to make big plays. Add highly-touted incoming freshmen Evan Stewart and Chris Marshall. Look for the Aggies receivers to make a significant step up.

TIGHT END (Down): Jalen Wydermyer did not have an excellent 2021 campaign. Still, he caught 40 passes for 515 yards and four TDs. In three seasons, he caught 118 passes for 1,468 yards and 16 scores. That’s not easy to replace, even with Baylor Cupp and Blake Smith healthy and heralded freshmen Jake Johnson and Donovan Green coming in.

OFFENSIVE LINE (Up): The loss of All-American guard Kenyon Green is huge. No doubt. Yet, A&M projects to be better at the four other positions up front. Center Bryce Foster and tackle Reuben Fatheree II were very good as true freshmen starters and should be better as sophomores. Guard Layden Robinson will be better as a second-year full-time starter, especially if healthy. Departed tackle Jahmir Johnson was serviceable, and Trey Zuhn could be an upgrade there.

Can the loss of Green be softened? Remember, Akinola Ogunbiyi began last season as the starter at left guard. Also, Blake Trainor started at guard in the victory over Alabama. Maybe Kam Dewberry — Green’s high school protege — can start as a freshman. There is a lot of material to work with for the new offensive line coach… whoever that is.

McKinnley Jackson, Isaiah Raikes, Adarious Jones and incoming five-star prospect Walter Nolen will ensure A&M is formidable inside.

DEFENSIVE LINE (Down): You can’t lose DeMarvin Leal, Jayden Peevy, Micheal Clemons and Tyree Johnson and expect to be better.

However, the drop-off likely won’t be as dramatic as some might think, especially on the interior. McKinnley Jackson, Isaiah Raikes, Adarious Jones and incoming five-star prospect Walter Nolen will ensure A&M is formidable inside. On the edges? There is a long list of prospects from recent recruiting classes. Shemar Turner can play outside. Tunmise Adeleye, Fadil Diggs, Donnell Harris, Jahzion Harris and incoming freshmen Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy and Malick Sylla provide plenty of options.

LINEBACKERS (Down): This is a coin flip and could be way off. Edgerrin Cooper showed flashes of brilliance as a first-time starter in 2021. Look for him to make major strides in 2020. Still, replacing departed two-year starter Aaron Hansford won’t be easy. Andre White could fill that role. There’s no shortage of others that could step in, too. That list may include heralded committed freshman Harold Perkins. However, there will be some apprehension until somebody steps up to consistently perform at Hansford’s level.

SECONDARY (Up): There may not be a stronger, deeper position group. All-SEC nickel Antonio Johnson and three-year starting safety Demani Richardson head a list of four returning starters. Tyreek Chappell played well as a true freshman cornerback thrust into the starting lineup. He should be better as a sophomore. The biggest question is how will departed safety Leon O’Neal be replaced. Does Johnson move to safety? Does Jaylon Jones, a two-year starter at corner, shift to safety? If so, does Myles Jones, back from a foot injury, move back into the starting lineup at corner? Or does Deuce Harmon start there? Or incoming five-star prospect Denver Harris? The Aggies have no shortage of options and no shortage of talent.

Discussion from...

Up or Down: Where each Texas A&M position group should trend in 2022

11,015 Views | 6 Replies | Last: 2 yr ago by GigEmTx
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Great article but I disagree about the tight end position. That group is going up next year. Too much incoming talent.
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Agree. Weidermeyer did not have the year we all hoped last year. Some of that was due to the quarterback situation. And I am surprised that the article didn't mention that the QB is likely to be Max Johnson who has significant SEC game experience (beat A&M just a few months ago), has a superbowl MVP QB father, and will be throwing to his brother, the #1 tight end prospect in the nation. I have to believe there will be some great chemistry there. With the experienced QB and the existing returning receivers along with two unbelievably good freshmen recievers (both top 10 in the nation), I think A&M's passing game will be a big difference maker next year. And that doesn't even count passes going to Achane coming out of the backfield. Scary if you think about it.
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Also, if you watched the Under Armor AA game, you would have seen incoming freshman TE Donavon Green looking like a Weidermer clone. He played very well against top talent.
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Wydermyer had some drops. However, he can't throw the ball to himself. He's always open.
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with any kind of QB play in 2022, the offense could be scary good
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Max is a good QB - he's just been playing behind a horrible O Line at LSU. He's not as athletic as King, but he's a lot more athletic than people realize. He can cover ground pretty well when he needs to. His lefty release will mess up the DB's timing for a few plays early on in most games, and that's worth something as well.

I love Haynes King's game. An athletic QB like that who's the 2nd fastest player on the field outside of Achane is dangerous when he has the ball in his hands every play. He just needs some experience, but I have to think this past year will help him improve. He got a taste of the starting spot and then got to soak up more coaching from the sidelines, so it wasn't a completely wasted year.

Weigman's the real deal. He's a guy who has the talent to take A&M to the promised land.

Either way they go, they'll have good play at QB next year. It's good to be in a position where you can't go wrong.
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