Last week, we previewed the offensive skill players, the big fellas that grind it out in the trenches, and front seven of the defense. In case you missed it, you can catch up below.
Today we wrap up this 2015 Preview series with the secondary.
Who’s gone: Deshazor Everett (eligibility expired), Tavares Garner (transferred)
Who’s back: #1 De’Vante Harris (5-11, 190, SR), #17 Alex Sezer Jr (5-9, 180, JR), #4 Noel Ellis (5-10, 185, SO), #28 Victor Davis (6-0, 195, SO), #8 Nick Harvey (5-10, 180, SO), #21 Brandon Williams (6-0, 205, SR)
Who’s new: #27 Roney Elam 91 (6-2, 173, FR), #19 DeShawn Capers-Smith 89 (6-0, 182, FR), Priest Willis 96 (6-2, 185, JR-TR)
Along with LB, the CB situation is one that gives Aggie fans the most heartburn. The best CB is clearly 3-year returning starter Harris but his size has always been an issue. Harris was injured in fall camp last year and missed about 4-5 weeks of training and due to the nature of the injury, lost a good bit of weight. It wasn’t until late in the season that he started to play well, and despite an absolutely terrific performance against LSU, he is much-maligned by the fans. It’s his senior year and the Aggie legacy gets one more chance to show why he’s been so highly thought of since HS. If he struggles or can’t make the transition to a new scheme, it’s going to be another long year because frankly, there is zero depth here. Besides Vic Davis, none of the other returning CBs would be recruited for a press-man scheme and are all probably best suited as nickles. But only 1 guy can play nickel and Noel Ellis, returned from a serious bout with type I diabetes, showed in the spring that he hasn’t lost anything. Sezer and Harvey round out the depth at CB and while not lacking in talent, none are particularly well suited for the scheme. After spring ball, the coaches decided to try Brandon Williams out at CB as he has all the requisite skills to be elite. His transition may well be the most watched storyline of fall camp. If it goes well, the CB situation could be solid. If not, it could be ugly. Freshmen Elam and Capers-Smith should both be contributors down the road but Elam needs weight and DCS played QB in high school so in an ideal world, they’d both redshirt. We aren’t, however, living in an ideal world. Priest Willis is a transfer in from UCLA who will have to sit out the season but should provide an immediate boost next year. He will have 2 years of eligibility starting in 2016.
Who’s gone: Howard Matthews (eligibility expired), Floyd Raven (eligibility expired), Clay Honeycutt (eligibility expired), Jonathan Wiggins (retired)
Who’s back: #12 Sam Moeller (5-11,191, SR), #26 Devonta Burns (6-0, 211, SR), #23 Armani Watts (5-11, 195, SO), #18 Donovan Wilson (6-1, 205, SO)
Who’s new: #5 Justin Evans 90 (6-1, 195, JR), #30 Justin Dunning 93 (6-4, 215, FR), #18 Larry Pryor 92 (6-0, 195, FR)
While CB is pretty questionable, the situation at Safety ranks with DE as the best units on defense. Armani Watts showed he has star ability at times in 2014 though he also showed he wasn’t physically ready at others. Donovan Wilson barely played to start the year but by the bowl game, had supplanted Howard Matthews as boundary safety and had an outstanding game. Those two returning mean the safety situation is in good hands. But in the spring, with Wilson sitting out, Justin Evans took control. He was so impressive he was elevated to first team FS, forcing Watts to SS where he is set to battle Wilson for a starting spot in the fall. Those 3 alone should help solidify the secondary and it’s quite likely one will slide down to the Mustang position when Chavis goes to 6 DBs. Justin Dunning and Larry Pryor meanwhile are the highest rated safeties A&M has recruited in quite some time. This group of 5, only one of whom will even be a JR in 2015, should provide Chavis a lot of different types of players to mix and match and show contrasting looks to opposing offenses.