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The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Leave it all on the field

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Photo by Robert O’Brien

Junior RB Devon Achane (6) rushes up the middle during the Southwest Classic on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

With Texas A&M football’s recent struggles, many viewers won’t see this SEC matchup’s significance as the Aggies enter this game as 24.5-point underdogs, according to the line at Bet MGM Sportsbook.
While this may be true, people will return to this game in five years when most players from each depth chart have a new roster spot on a professional league team. This matchup will showcase 24 five-star recruits, 105 four-star recruits and 36 three-star recruits from each roster combined.
Many are very knowledgeable of the presence and skill of Crimson Tide players such as junior edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. and junior Heisman quarterback Bryce Young. So I decided to take a different approach and highlight players who are less known yet very talented.
Here are a handful of highly ranked athletes who are expected to make an immediate impact in this SEC rivalry:
Kobe Prentice — Alabama — four-star — 0.9687 composite
Let me be transparent and say this Alabama native being named after one of the greatest basketball players to ever walk the earth is not the reason he is the first name on my list.
Wide receiver Kobe Prentice is a true freshman starter who was born and raised an hour outside Bryant-Denny Stadium — and must have drank from the same fountain as Miami Dolphin Jaylen Waddle and Detroit Lion Jameson Williams — because he can fly.
“Kobe Prentice, of the young guys,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “He was probably the guy that stood out the most of the young players.”
Prentice is a multi-sport athlete who runs past defenders on the football field and flies past competitors on the track. He last clocked in a 10.81 100-meter dash, according to 247Sports, and finished sixth as a junior in high school at the AHSAA Class 6A State Track and Field Championships.
Prentice has been one of Young’s favorite targets throughout the season as he sits third on the team in receptions with 15 and second on the team in receiving yards with 211.
Devon Achane — A&M — four-star — 0.9373 composite
This name is pretty cliche, however, this junior running back has been the Aggies’ main resource of yards throughout this season. So he obviously makes the list.
Devon Achane is third in the nation in all-purpose yards per game with 166.4 and third in the SEC in rushing yards with 466. Throughout this season, the Missouri City native has accumulated a third of the Aggies’ total yards with 558 and should be expected to carry this load throughout the remainder of the season.
Kool-Aid McKinstry — Alabama — five-star — 0.9906 composite
No, the Kool-Aid Man did not produce a son who is now a starting cornerback for the Crimson Tide. However, he did sign a Name, Image and Likeness, or NIL, deal with the man himself during his freshman season.
Sophomore Kool-Aid McKinstry has been lock-down for defensive coordinator Pete Golding’s defense all season. Despite not having any interceptions, McKinstry is tied for fifth in the nation in pass breakups and has recorded the second-longest sack on the team for 12 yards.
This potential matchup between McKinstry and freshman wide receiver Evan Stewart is one to be excited for.
Moose Muhammad III — A&M — four-star — 0.9304 composite
After this sophomore’s performance in the Southwest Classic, I didn’t expect him to make any type of list for the remainder of the season. However, wide receiver Moose Muhammad III showed his grit against Mississippi State as he accumulated 119 yards on six receptions and secured his first touchdown of the season.
With senior wideout Ainias Smith out for the remainder of the season and Stewart covered by Alabama’s number-one corner, someone is going to need to step up if the Aggies have any chance of winning.
Watch out for the Charlotte native because he could potentially have back-to-back breakout performances.
Emil Ekiyor Jr. — Alabama — four-star — 0.9406 composite
The offensive line is the most underappreciated, however, the most important position group on the gridiron and I’m here to shine some light on an individual who has dominated this position for three seasons.
Senior guard Emil Ekiyor Jr. is the last man standing from the Alabama offensive line that was awarded the Joe Moore award in 2020. With numerous offensive linemen now absent from the Crimson Tide, including left tackle Evan Neal who was drafted top 10 in the NFL Draft, Ekiyor has had to take this inexperienced group under his wing and find success.
And he’s done exactly that.
Alabama’s offensive line has given up, on average, only one sack per game and sits first in the nation in rushing yards per play with 7.35. They have accumulated 251.4 rushing yards per game and given Young enough time to throw for 1,202 passing yards.
“I think something special about the offensive line we have in general is we’re really deep,” Ekiyor said. “Ones and twos, everybody is a really good player and could be a starter anywhere in the SEC.”
Jalen Milroe — Alabama — four-star — 0.9631 composite
Young left the game early against Arkansas to an apparent shoulder injury that now has him listed as day-to-day and questionable for this SEC showdown. With that being said, there is a chance that we will be seeing a sneak peek of Alabama’s offense sooner than expected.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jalen Milroe came into last week’s matchup with an offense that, in my opinion, doesn’t fit his playing style. The Katy native completed only four of his nine passing attempts for 65 yards and tallied the second touchdown of his collegiate career.
“Very athletic. Strong. Has a strong arm,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He was a guy we were recruiting at the time … He’s an outstanding athlete.”
While he still has time to critique his pass game, his mobile game requires no tweaks. Milroe rushed six times against the Razorbacks for 91 yards which featured a 77-yard run that resulted in a three-yard score by junior running back Jase McClellan.
If Milroe gets the start on Saturday, expect offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien to run a scheme that fits the second-string quarterback. Which is to ground and pound the ball.

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