With a handful of months separating us from meaningful college football, Texas A&M has found itself on one of the Top 25 rankings heading into next season. Yes, it’s okay to be upbeat about the Aggies’ prospects!
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg did his best in forecasting the top college football defensive units of the near future. According to the worldwide leader in sports, these rankings highlight the top 25 defenses for the next three seasons: 2023, 2024, and 2025. This analysis examines both current rosters and future recruiting while coaching and consistency also factor into which teams make the cut.
And with that, Texas A&M clocked in at No. 15 in this year’s rankings. For reference, the Aggies ranked No. 3 in last year’s future defense power rankings.
Here’s the reasoning behind the Maroon and White’s finish:
“Projecting Texas A&M’s overall outlook beyond 2023 isn’t easy, given the disastrous results last season and what they could mean if coach Jimbo Fisher doesn’t turn things around soon. But the Aggies’ defense still finished in the top 25 nationally in points allowed, and it returns a sizable group of high-level recruits who could break out this coming season. Texas A&M’s historic 2022 defensive recruiting haul included linemen Walter Nolen, Shemar Stewart, and LT Overton. Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy, another headliner of the 2022 class, should be a bigger factor as he comes off of a knee injury. The line also has veterans such as seniors McKinnley Jackson and Fadil Diggs and junior Shemar Turner, so depth should be a strength.
Texas A&M lost several transfers in the back seven, including linebacker Andre White Jr. But senior Chris Russell Jr. and junior Edgerrin Cooper are back to lead the linebackers. Russell finished third on the team in tackles (66) and tied for second in tackles for loss (7), while Cooper led the team in TFLs in 2022. The Aggies must improve at cornerback and hope North Carolina transfer Tony Grimes will provide a lift alongside junior Tyreek Chappell and others. Their safety tandem of fifth-year senior Demani Richardson and junior Jardin Gilbert provides production and system knowledge. Richardson has 43 career starts, 245 tackles, and four interceptions. The Aggies didn’t match 2022 with their 2023 recruiting class but still landed lineman David Hicks, ESPN’s No. 8 overall prospect, decorated cornerback Bravion Rogers (ESPN No. 63), and safety Dalton Brooks (No. 79 overall).”
Despite the injuries, inconsistencies, and lack of experience from a young roster, the Aggies still finished 25th in the nation in points allowed (21.2 PPG) last season. Much of that group returns in 2023 and should be equipped to take another leap forward with a bevy of experience underneath their belt.
A&M still needs to address some depth issues at linebacker, but their front is immensely talented and they have a promising breakout group brewing in the secondary. So long as they shore up those issues, don’t be surprised at A&M being a defensive terror in 2023 and beyond.