Five questions ahead of Texas A&M Spring Football

Texas A&M is just two days away from their first spring football practice ahead of the April 15th Spring Game, as the Jimbo Fisher/Bobby Petrino era is set to take off, and hopefully, avoid crashing and burning like most of the media assumes will be the case.

In Fisher’s sixth season with the Aggies, changes on the roster will certainly cause headaches, specifically concerning the linebacker depth chart, but key returners such as Ainias Smith, Demani Richardson, McKinnley Jackson, and Layden Robinson provide veteran leadership among a young team in need of consistent structure on both sides of the ball.

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Rebounding from the memorable (in the worst way possible) 5-7 2022 season is obviously at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but in order for drastic improvement to come to fruition, “fixing the fixable” is what spring practice is all about.

Here are five questions ahead of Texas A&M’s April 15th Maroon and White Spring Game.

After the departure of running back Devon Achane, how will the running back depth chart shake out?


Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As we bid farewell to Devon Achane, who finished his memorable Aggie career with 2,097 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns in his career, and 1,102 yards and 8 touchdowns during the 2022 season, the future is now the present, and multiple known, but not well-known names fill out the 2023 Texas A&M running back depth chart.


After Achane missed two games due to injury last season, sophomore running back Amari Daniels, and freshman back Le’Veon Moss shared snaps in the backfield in what was basically a small glimpse into what the depth chart will look like for 2023. Compared to Achane (which is tough to do), Daniels is a balanced runner with great vision, while Moss has the size advantage to thrive in pass protection, a vital importance to Jimbo Fisher’s pro-style scheme.

Incoming 5-Star running back Reuben Owens throws a wrench into the conversation in the best way possible, displaying speed, quickness, balance, and size, Owens’ primary concern is his youth, knowing that it may take some time to learn Fisher and Petrino’s offense, but simply put, he’s just too skilled to keep off the field. Here is how the depth chart presumably stands ahead of spring practices:

  • 1st Team, Junior, Amari Daniels

  • 2nd Team, Sophomore, Le’Veon Moss

  • 3rd Team, Freshman, Reuben Owens

Is there a Quarterback controversy brewing between Conner Weigman and Max Johnson?

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)


Yes, I used the word “controversy” when describing the current quarterback depth chart despite Conner Weigmans’ late ascendance last season (896 passing yards, 8 touchdowns), but hear me out. Max Johnson, who started three games last season before a hand injury sidelined him for the rest of the year, things were actually looking up for one of the worst offenses in college football due to Johnson’s consistent steady hand and smart decision-making.

After switching back to now Georgia Tech Quarterback Haynes King, the wheels completely fell off before young Weigman’s debut against Ole Miss on Oct. 29th, throwing for 338 yards and 4 touchdowns, essentially cementing his place as the starting signal caller for the 2023 season and beyond. What separates Wiegman and Johnson is almost entirely trait-based, whereas Connor just adds more to the offense due to his accuracy, touch, and downfield vision. However, Max Johnson is by far the most valuable backup in the SEC and a proven commodity in the quarterback room. Here is the presumed depth chart ahead of spring:

  • 1st Team, Sophomore, Conner Weigman

  • 2nd Team, Senior, Max Johnson

How will the Wide receiver depth chart shape out after Ainias Smith's return?

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


When the news came out that wide receiver/running back/return specialist/all-around great guy Ainias Smith would return for his final senior season after sustaining a devastating season-ending injury last season, rejoice was had, but news questions rose in regards to Texas A&M’s wide receiver depth chart heading into the 2023 season.

Before Smith’s announcement, the depth chart may have looked a little something like this:

  • Z-receiver: Sophomore, Noah Thomas

  • X-receiver: Sophomore, Evan Stewart

  • Slot-receiver: Senior, Moose Muhammad III

From the naked eye, Muhammad III’s veteran status would have to be relied on in an almost unhealthy manner, plus his versatility outside of the slot would not be utilized in order to consistently push the ball downfield. So, placing Smith back in the slot, keeping Stewart at the X, and putting Muhammad at the Z drastically opens up the offense to put pressure on the secondary due to the collective speed and athleticism this unit provides.


Three names to keep in mind when examining the depth chart are freshman Raymond Cottrell, UTEP transfer Tyrin Smith, and impending returning senior, Jalen Preston. Cottrell’s size (6-2, 203lbs) makes him an immediate candidate to earn playing snaps at both the X and Z, while the speedy Tyrin Smith could take over return duties while backing up Ainias Smith in the slot. Jalen Preston’s specific fit on the roster is still in question, sharing snaps at the Z and fielding kickoff returns is where he thrives the most.

How much of an issue is the lack of depth at linebacker?

To start, I don’t want to morph into the “doom and gloom” writer when detailing Texas A&M’s current linebacker depth chart, but folks, it ain’t pretty. The positives? Will (weak-side) linebacker Edgerrin Cooper and Middle linebacker Chris Russell are returning for 2023, after that, it gets pretty muddy.


Behind Cooper, defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin will most likely move sophomore Martrell Harris as the reserve weak-side, while incoming freshman linebacker Taurean York is presently slated to directly back up Chris Russell at Middle linebacker, but hope still remains that a proven starting-level player could still be added from the transfer portal in the next couple of months.

As fans know all too well, the linebacker postion has been one of the worst recruiting areas in the past decade under both Kevin Sumlin and Jimbo Fisher, most notably losing 2023 5-star linebacker Anthony Hill Jr. last Fall, it’s officially “work with whatcha got” time for a unit that may experience some struggle early on.

In Bobby Petrino's first season as Texas A&M's OC, will we finally see some explosiveness?

Missouri State Football head coach Bobby Petrino walks the sideline during the Bears game against the University of Central Arkansas at Plaster Stadium on Saturday, Sep. 11, 2021.


Bobby Petrino, for those who don’t know, is one of the premier offensive minds in all of football, college, or NFL, with a career spanning almost 40 years. Okay, in order to avoid gaslighting you, Petrino is a pretty controversial hire due to his very checkered past during his time as the Head coach at Arkansas as well as the Atlanta Falcons, but at the age of 63 with a chance to vault himself back into the Division 1 coaching ranks, helping the Aggies win football games is all that matters.

Now, just how much will the offense improve under Petrino’s guidance? Referencing a previous article discussing what scheme will be deployed next season, Head coach Jimbo Fisher’s pro-style base system will stay in place, yet in order to fully utilize quarterback Conner Weigman’s ability in the pocket and open up the passing game with one of the deepest and most dynamic wide receiver units in the country, it’s time to spread it out; spread formation, that is.

From a passing perspective, Conner Weigman’s ability to get the ball out quickly paired with all three presumed starting receivers (Ainias Smith, Evan Stewart, Moose Muhammad III) route running, ball skills, quick option routes, stick routes and slants paired with a sprinkle of go routes provide the most consistency to push the ball down the field, paired with an efficient running game to create a balanced, yet explosive offense for the first time in Fisher’s tenure.

For any of this to work, the offensive line, who will be returning all five starters including center Bryce Foster, right guard Layden Robinson, and right tackle Reuben Fatheree, should drastically improve in both pass and run protection, and if so, we’re in for quite an offense treat in 2023.

Story originally appeared on Aggies Wire