Projecting the Aggies' 2019 depth chart: Offense
With nearly 12 total starters from last season’s roster either declaring for the NFL draft or playing out the remainder of their eligibility, the Aggies’ starting line up in year two of the Jimbo Fisher era is slated to look significantly different than the 22 players who led the Maroon and White to a 9-4 record in their 2018 campaign. After a competitive spring and an impressive showing in the annual Maroon and White game, here’s a quick rundown of the Ag’s projected two-deep depth chart we expect to see this fall.
Projected Starter: Kellen Mond
Key Reserve(s): James Foster, Zach Calzada
Break Down: The incumbent starter, Kellen Mond returns for his junior season with 20 starts under his belt. Despite an up and down tenure in College Station, the former IMG standout has shown flashes of being potentially one of the most dominant signal callers in the SEC. He’ll look to build on a sophomore campaign that saw him throw for over 3,100 yards and nearly 25 touchdowns.
Behind Mond, the race for QB2 is wide open. Though Zach Calzada had a strong showing in the Maroon and White game last month, the staff has been impressed with the progress of James Foster after the Alabama native redshirted in 2018. The pair of signal callers will take the battle into fall camp and could also see some competition from veteran backup Connor Blumrick this August if neither can separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
Projected Starter: Jashaun Corbin
Key Reserve(s): Deneric Prince, Corrdarrian Richardson
Breakdown: Despite missing most of the spring with an injury, Jashaun Corbin is the most explosive playmaker on the roster. When you combine his ability to make defenders miss in space with what might be his biggest strength in catching balls out of the backfield, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we’ll see the sophomore back pour in 14-1500 all-purpose yards when all things are said and done.
Behind Corbin, Deneric Prince and Corrdarrian Richardson have each made a case for seeing some carries thrown their way in a complementary role next season. At 245 pounds, Richardson is the bruiser of the group. Primarily used in short yardage situations, the former four-star recruit had a reserve role for the undefeated 2017 UCF Knights during his freshman season and transferred to College Station after head coach Scott Frost left the Sunshine State to take over at his alma mater, Nebraska. Despite battling injuries in the spring, Richardson turned some heads on the scout team last fall and should serve a valuable role for the Aggie running game next season.
Prince is a change of pace back who took advantage of an injury-ridden backfield this spring. His combination of vision, power, and shiftiness was on full display in the Maroon and White game, as the redshirt freshman tacked on nearly 100 all-purpose yards.
Projected Starter: Ben Miles
Key Reserve(s): Sam Stanley, Ryan Renick
Breakdown: After transferring in from the University of Nebraska, Ben Miles appeared in just one game for the Aggies last season. Now, with the former 12th man and fan favorite Cullen Gillaspia gone, Miles is expected to take the reins as the starting fullback next fall. Though unproven, Miles’ intangibles are intriguing. The son of new Kansas Jayhawk head coach Les Miles, Ben was widely regarded as the nation’s top-rated fullback in the 2017 recruiting class.
Behind Miles will be former Sam Houston State Bearcat, Sam Stanley. Stanley played defensive end for two seasons in Huntsville before transferring to College Station. I’ve also heard rumblings that veteran back up tight end Ryan Renick could potentially see some snaps in an H-back type role next season as well. Renick saw action on special teams in every game last season and reportedly had a solid showing blocking in the trenches this spring.
Projected Starter: Baylor Cupp
Key Reserve(s): Glenn Beal, Jalen Wydermeyer
Breakdown: With All-American pass catcher Jace Sternberger now a member of the Green Bay Packers, the door is wide open for one of Glenn Beal, Baylor Cupp, or Jalen Wydermeyer to man the starting role for the Aggies. The coaching staff has raved about Beal’s potential. A proven blocker, the New Orleans native has turned heads this offseason after dropping some weight and showing his prowess as a receiver.
Cupp arguably has the highest potential of any player on the roster. A five-star recruit coming out of Brock high school, the freshman tight end possesses some can’t miss intangibles despite playing in a Wing-T offense. Once he gets a better grasp of the playbook and speed of the college game, I expect him to take the starting job and not look back.
A former four-star recruit, Wedemeyer is a proven receiver who uses his 6’5 frame to pluck balls out of the air with ease. Although blocking has been a concern, he hopes to carve out a role in the Aggies’ three tight end sets similar to how Beal did last season.
Projected Starters: Quartney Davis, Jhamon Ausbon, Cameron Buckley
Key Reserve(s): Kendrick Rogers, Jalen Preston
Breakdown: With anywhere from four to five players with vast experience in the fold, the Aggies are still waiting on a receiver to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Injuries and drops have hampered the unit the last few seasons, as no player on the roster has neared the 1,000-yard barrier. The quartet of Quartney Davis, Jhamon Ausbon, Cameron Buckley, and Kendrick Rogers will look to buck that trend this season.
Davis caught fire at the tail end of last season and appears to have the most consistent hands and route running ability on the roster. Ausbon’s battles with injuries and drops defined much his sophomore season, but a strong showing in the spring game and a toned up frame (he reportedly lost close to 10 pounds in the offseason) could have him in line for a big year.
Buckley has been a safety valve in the slot for quarterback Kellen Mond but has battled some issues with drops. Rogers has shown flashes of looking Mike Evans-esque, but injuries and trouble gaining separation in the secondary have severely hampered what could have been a monster sophomore season.
Behind the four veterans will be redshirt freshman Jalen Preston. One of the top recruits in the Aggies 2018 class, Preston is an elite route runner, has strong hands, and can stretch the field. Mastering the playbook and adjusting to the speed of the college game were reportedly barriers for him last season, but the coaching staff has taken notice of the Manvel native’s skill set after his stellar performance this offseason. He should see some increased time in the rotation as the season progresses.
Projected Starter: Ryan McCollum
Key Reserve(s): Barton Clement, Luke Matthews
Breakdown: With 13 starts and nearly 25 games under his belt, 2019 is shaping up as a make or break year for center Ryan McCollum. Despite so much experience at playing at all three positions across the line, the redshirt junior has had trouble finding consistency for the Maroon and White the last two seasons. Regardless, the utility offensive lineman appears to have finally found a home at center after an impressive showing in spring practice.
Providing some depth behind McCollum will likely be Barton Clements. Last fall, insiders raved about Clement’s upper body strength and impressive grasp of the playbook. That remains true eight months later.
The interior lineman has shown a rare versatility as an underclassman, playing multiple positions across the line thus far in his career and should provide the first unit with a dependable mauler on the depth chart moving forward. Depending on how the starting five looks, Redshirt freshman Luke Matthews could see some snaps here as well.
Projected Starters: Jared Hocker, Tank Jenkins
Key Reserve(s): Luke Matthews, Colton Prater
Breakdown: After turning heads on the scout team his freshman season, I’m told the coaching staff has big plans for Tank Jenkins. Regarded as a one of the Ag’s ‘top three’ in the trenches, the massive Alabama native is expected to snag a starting spot at right guard if all goes according to plan.
Opposite Jenkins, Jared Hocker is expected to have the first crack at left guard heading into fall camp despite nursing an injury for most of the spring. He has started in 10 games in the last two seasons and has been dominant in the run game at times.
Fighting for reps behind those two will be Luke Matthews and Colton Prater. Matthews has seen snaps at multiple positions thus far in his career and is expected to see meaningful downs next season whether he is listed in the starting lineup or not.
Prater, who has seen extensive action across the line in the last three seasons, should factor into the lineup in some form or fashion. With over 30 games of experience in his corner, he will certainly see some meaningful downs throughout the season despite his ongoing battle with consistency.
Projected Starters: Carson Green, Dan Moore
Key Reserve(s): Kenyon Green, Colton Prater
Breakdown: After a rocky season protecting the passer, there is a quiet optimism surrounding incumbent starters Carson Green and Dan Moore. Green has started 16 games the last two seasons for the Maroon and White and a strong showing in the spring is a promising sign for an offensive line that gave up over 30 sacks against power five pass rushers last season.
Moore has been the player many believe could be an NFL draft pick in the coming years. After starting all 12 games at left tackle last season, there was talk that he would slide over to guard after appearing flat-footed at times in his sophomore campaign. The Beaumont native reportedly put those claims to rest this spring and appears primed for a breakout year protecting Kellen Mond’s blind side.
Although Kenyon Green is more than capable to take the reins at tackle, I expect him to eventually slide over to his more natural position at guard barring an unforeseen injury that forces the staff to shake things up among the starting five. Despite being unable to enroll in the spring, many believe the former five-star recruit has the highest ceiling of any lineman on the roster. Colton Prater could potentially see some snaps here as well depending on what the starting unit looks like. Even if Prater doesn’t see much playing time, his veteran presence and ability to provide depth at any position on the line will be valued.