These are the top 10 Texas A&M football players you need to know for 2016. Get acquainted with the Aggies’ key stars to watch out for.
1. DE Myles Garrett, Jr.
The prototype, the 6-5, 262-pound pass-rushing terror comes from a family of world-class athletes and soon could be more accomplished than all of them by being the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft – or not be all that far off.
He’s got all the parts to his game that make next-level scouts drool, starting with the elite size, the blast off the ball, the closing ability, the wingspan, the frame, and closing ability, the toughness against the run, and the want-to as a star to work an entire defense around.
He came out of the box flying, making 53 tackles with 11.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss as a freshman, and despite being keyed on as a sophomore, he was even better coming up with 59 tackles with 12.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. While he was great throughout the year – he made at least one sack in eight of the 13 games – while cranking up pressure all throughout the season. It’s salary drive time now, and if he comes up with another season like the first two, he’ll be hugging Roger Goodell early on a Thursday night next late April.
2. WR Christian Kirk, Soph.
The five-star talent out of Scottsdale was supposed to produce at a high level right away, but no one expected him to come in and dominate as the star of an already phenomenal receiving corps. In a season when the quarterback play was spotty and inconsistent, Kirk thrived catching 80 passes for 1,009 yards and seven scores, and averaged a ridiculous 24.36 yards per punt return with two scores – hitting Arizona State in the opener and Alabama for the touchdowns.
Ultra-quick and with the deep speed and burst to jet past any defensive back, he always found ways to get open with 173 yards and two scores against Arkansas and with ten catches for 84 yards and a touchdown in the bowl loss to Louisville. Along the way, he was always good for four catches or more in almost every game and was the sure-thing No. 1 target no matter who was under center. With all the talent in the rest of the receiving corps he doesn’t have to do everything by himself, but he occasionally will.
3. S Armani Watts, Jr.
Part defensive back, part receiver, part quarterback in high school, he did a little bit of everything, he was a safety from the start of his Texas A&M and he came out roaring making 59 tackles as the starting free safety as a true freshman with three picks. At 5-11 and 200 pounds with fantastic range and instincts, he’s a big-time hitter making 126 tackles with a pick and six tackles for loss. A force in the middle of the season, he came up with 20 tackles against Ole Miss, 13 against Auburn, and closed out with 15 stops against Louisville. Now he’ll be deep in the hunt for All-America honors.
4. DT Daeshon Hall, Sr.
The 6-6, 260-pound senior doesn’t get a whole bunch of credit and attention with Myles Garrett on the other side, but the Seattle native has turned into a nice pro prospect on his own with the right-sized frame and a speedy first step. He single-handedly destroyed Arizona State with four sacks in the opener, and he only came up with three sacks the rest of the way, but he was a presence with 54 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss.
5. WR Josh Reynolds, Sr.
The team’s breakout star in 2014 after coming in from the JUCO ranks, he led the way with 52 catches for 842 yards and 13 touchdowns doing a great job of using his deep speed and 6-4, 190-pound frame to turn into one of the SEC’s top playmakers. Last year he was even more dangerous, averaging 17.8 yards per catch on 51 grabs, but he only came up with five touchdowns. A 100-yard receiving threat every time out, he cranked up 141 yards against Mississippi State and 177 in the bowl loss to Louisville. He might be the No. 2 guy now next to Christian Kirk, but he’s still an all-star talent.
6. QB Trevor Knight, Sr.
After Oklahoma got destroyed by Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel, the coaching staff was looking for a little more mobility and explosion at the position. Enter Knight, who became the shocking starter at the beginning of the 2013 season. He was okay, not great, but then he made his big splash with a brilliant performance to beat Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl. By 2015, he was pushed aside for Baker Mayfield, graduated, and moved on to A&M where he’s expected to steady the quarterbacking craziness.
Just 6-1 and 215 pounds, he’s not all that big, but he can move, he’s experienced, smart, and when he gets into a rhythm he can get an offense moving. His job will be to keep feeding the great receiving corps and not make mistakes. Get the chains moving with his legs as well as his arm, and all will be fine – he can do that.
7. RB Keith Ford, Jr.
Can he produce and can he stay heathy? The 5-11, 215-pound former Oklahoma Sooner transferred after taking off for 526 yards and six touchdowns in his two seasons. A superstar recruit, he was supposed to be the next big thing for the Sooner ground game, but he never quite broke out, had fumbling issues, and was lapped by Samaje Perine in the pecking order. The talent is there to be special, but he missed spring ball hurt and still has to prove himself.
8. DT Daylon Mack, Soph.
The team’s best recruit last season, the 6-1, 335-pound bowling ball is built like a brick, but he can move a little bit, too. He came up with 9.5 tackles for loss as a part of the rotation last year, to go along with 32 tackles. Shockingly athletic for his body type, he’s got interesting tools and could turn into a superstar in the interior of the line and the difference-maker against the run the defense desperately needs.
9. WR Ricky Seals-Jones, Jr.
The former superstar recruit hasn’t played up to the hype or the expectations yet, but he’s been plenty good with the freakish skills to do even more. At 6-5 and 240 pounds, he’s got tight end size with wide receiver speed and the upside to be a No. 1 target. He might not be explosive, but he’s a strong midrange target catching 45 passes for 560 yards and four scores. He might be the third man in the receiving mix, but he’ll have his standout moments.
10. DT Kinsley Keke, Soph.
The massive 6-3, 315-pounder might not have been an elite recruit, but he was an okay one. Now he might be the anchor of the defensive front with great bulk and the style to hold his own for a defensive interior that hasn’t done much over the last few seasons. Athletic for his size, he’s an interesting option to go along with the other rising parts of the rotation. This was his spring ball, and while he might not be a sure-thing starter right away, he looked the part of a possible anchor to build around after coming up with just eight tackles.