A look at the freshmen who have played so far
The Aggies have thrown a bunch of true freshmen into the fire this season, largely with positive results. Here's my take on those who have played so far.
QB Kellen Mond: 36-72, 414 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT passing; 25 carries for 48 yards and 1 TD in 3 games (2 starts). Mond started off horribly, but has progressed significantly from one week to the next. By the second half against ULL, he looked like a better than average veteran college QB. His grade is a little low now, but if he continues to progress, he'll be a superstar. Grade: C+.
RB Jacob Kibodi: 5 carries, 104 yards, 1 TD. Kibodi has had limited snaps, but he destroyed a defense that was bad against the run coming. Still, who's going to turn up their nose at a 67-yard TD run? A grade on limited action? A.
WR Jhamon Ausbon: 10 catches for 108 yards and 1 TD. Ausbon is starting to develop into the stud receiver A&M needs to take heat off of Christian Kirk, but he's not quite there yet. His first two games were kind of blah, but he was good against ULL. Grade: C+.
WR Camron Buckley: 1 catch, 12 yards, 1 TD. Not enough to judge him in on. I thought he should have redshirted, but he's gotten consistent snaps -- just not targets.
WR Roshauud Paul: 3 catches, 30 yards; 1 punt return for 24 yards. He's shown just enough to make me think he's going to be bigtime after Christian Kirk leaves. Grade: A.
WR Hezekiah Jones: 2 catches, 13 yards. Like Buckley, a lot of time and not a lot of targets. But he'll get a grade soon, because he's going to play more.
CB Myles Jones: 12 tackles, team-leading 4 passes broken up, 1 TFL, 1 fumble recovery. He hasn't been perfect and has been burned a couple of times, but for a true freshman he's been a revelation. He's still learning on the fly, but has been making plays and hasn't looked consistently overwhelmed. Grade: B.
CB Debione Renfro: 7 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery. One of the most questioned signings in the 2017 class, Renfro not only had a strong camp but has forced his way onto the field. Once there, he's made plays. With Jones and Charles Oliver, Renfro gives the Aggies hope that they're on the verge of having a strong corner rotation for multiple years. Grade: B+.
S Derrick Tucker: No stats yet. He got his first action over the weekend and looked like he was looking to hurt people. I've got high hopes, but no grade, for him.
S Keldrick Carper: 4 tackles, 1 TFL. One guy who has looked overmatched. He's still learning how to play safety and has been picked on a few times. But I'm still looking forward to him and Tucker manning the safety spots. Grade: C-.
OL Jared Hocker: Has played in all three games, with 1 start. Hocker got the lion's share of the snaps at right guard against ULL and struggled. But he's a true freshman thrust into a big role when most thought he'd redshirt. The fact he isn't speaks well for his future. Grade: C.
OL Dan Moore: Played vs. ULL. Wow, talk about a revelation. A guy who was supposed to be a guard played some very nice tackle over the weekend. He pushed a lot of people around. Tempted not to grade, but whatever. It's an A.
OL Carson Green: Has played in two games. He's been pretty good, not great. Jim Turner sure thinks he's going to be big, though. Grade: B.
LB Buddy Johnson: Has played sparingly in all three games, 3 tackles. No grade, but loving the athleticism.
LB Anthony Hines III: 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble. Nicked for getting out of position on ULL's last touchdown, he's a primary reason why there's a lot of hope for the future of the Aggie defense. Grade: B+.
DL Jayden Peevy: 2 games, no tackles, 1 pass defensed. Peevy is still underweight, but he's still so tall he looks massive. Since his playing time has been limited, I won't grade him, but this kid looks like he's going to be a monster.
Why are they so young (again)?
I almost titled this "a little drop will screw you," but that might have been tacky. But looking at the 2013, 2014 and 2015 classes -- the ones that should provide the upperclassmen, gives you an idea.
The Aggies have no redshirt seniors on the roster that went through their entire college careers at A&M. None. They signed 31 players in that class. That group includes 2 JUCOs who played out their time, 5 who played all four years, 1 who left early, 1 who picked professional baseball, 7 who were forced to retire due to injury, 10 who transferred elsewhere (only 1, Kenny Hill, has done anything), 3 kicked off the team and 2 who just quit football entirely.
The 2014 class should be the centerpiece of this team, but it's suffered attrition as well. 20 players were signed, and 8 are still around (and 2 of those may not play this year due to injuries). 3 were JUCOs who completed their eligibility, 4 transferred, 2 left for the NFL draft early, 3 were forced to retire and 1 was kicked off the team.
The 2015 class has been taken hits too. 26 guys were signed and they're down to 17. 2 JUCOs have done their time and left, 5 transferred and 2 had to retire due to injury (1 has come back and is in JUCO ball).
So, in those three classes, A&M signed 77 players. Of that total, 25 are still around. That's 29%. Of course, you had JUCOs who were good and left and you have Myles Garrett. But that's still a lot players lost, and that's why they are still y0ung.
O-line: Attrition central
It's obvious that offensive and defensive linemen play the most physically tasking positions on the football field. The Aggies' offensive line signees have been brutalized in recent years, and the list (of nearly entirely off-the-field) career-ending injuries is staggering. Consider:
2013: J.J. Gustafson -- Knee and back injuries, retired; Ish Wilson, transferred; Joas Aguliar -- back injury, retired
2014: Zack Ledwik -- multiple injuries, retired; Tank Davis, transferred
2015: Trevor Elbert -- back and shoulder injuries, retired (has un-retired)
2016: Austin Anderson, bank injury, retired
I don't know what would have happened if these guys had stuck around, but the offensive line wouldn't be filled with freshmen in the two deep.