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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
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Players to watch: Arkansas

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Photo by Ishika Samant/The Battalion

Freshman LB Taurean York (21) celebrates after sophomore DL Shemar Stewart sacked Auburn QB Payton Thorne (1) during Texas A&M’s football game against Auburn at Kyle Field on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023.

After defeating the Auburn Tigers last week, the Texas A&M football team looks to conquer the Arkansas Razorbacks in this year’s Southwest Classic. Here are the players to watch when the Aggies face off against the Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium, on Sept. 30 at 11 a.m.
Taurean York, LB (Texas A&M)
York was designated last week’s SEC freshman of the week with 11 tackles, half a sack and two tackles for loss. York proved to be a huge disruptor on the field, as the true freshman led the team in total and solo tackles.
As just a 3-star prospect coming out of Temple High School, many questioned the role York would play in this year’s Aggie defense. But he played a key role in the wrecking crews’ dominance over their first SEC opponents of the year.
Arkansas has yet to put up less than 28 points this season and dropped 31 points against fellow SEC West rival, LSU. York will need to spearhead a stubborn defense if they want to maintain their dominance against the Razorbacks.
KJ Jefferson, QB (Arkansas)
Jefferson is having quite the year and is looking to become the most legendary quarterback in Arkansas program history. Although his team fell last Saturday to the Tigers from Baton Rouge, they still looked competitive against what some consider to be the top contender in the SEC West.
Jefferson hopes to be atop multiple Arkansas QB records come the end of the season surpassing names like Ryan Mallet, Brandon Allen and Tyler Wilson. Jefferson, however, hopes to be more successful against the Aggies than his predecessors under center.
While Jefferson has already thrown three interceptions this year, he will hope to right the ship for the Razorbacks if he wants to prove to NFL scouts that he deserves to have his name called come draft night. He captains this offense, and if Arkansas wants a win in Dallas then Jefferson needs to be efficient both on the ground and in the air.
Max Johnson, QB (Texas A&M)
With starting sophomore quarterback Conner Weigman ruled out for the rest of the season with a foot injury, the keys will officially be handed over to sophomore Max Johnson to steer this offense.
Johnson saw time as the starting man under center last year and looked decent when running this Aggie offense. He even managed two ranked wins for the Maroon and White last year. Johnson led the team to wins over then No. 13 Miami and No. 10 Arkansas.
Johnson looked sharp in the time he has seen this year with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also boasts a QBR of 90.2 to go along with 226 yards passing.
Aggie fans will hope that Johnson and A&M can find the same level of success as last year, hopefully without depending on an oink-doink to grab the win.
Jaheim Thomas, LB (Arkansas)
The redshirt junior linebacker has been the shining star of Arkansas’ feisty defense this season. Thomas leads the team in both tackles and sacks so far with 43 total tackles and three sacks.
Thomas was a breakout star at the University of Cincinnati last year and is seeing lots of success in his move to the SEC. In Arkansas’ first SEC game of the year, he was all over the field wrapping up 13 total tackles and half a sack against the No. 12 LSU Tigers.
If Arkansas wants to see success on the defensive side of the ball against the new Bobby Petrino offense, then Thomas will need to make sure to leave his mark in Jerry World.

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Matthew Seaver
Matthew Seaver, Sports Reporter
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