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The Battalion

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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

What we learned: A&M Media Day

Photo by Robert O’Brien

Coach Jimbo Fisher sits with the 2022-2023 Texas A&M Football team before taking the team photo at Kyle Field on Sunday, August 7, 2022.

On Aug. 7, Texas A&M football held its annual media day in the belly of Kyle Field. A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher, four coordinators and four players gave insight into what has been developing behind the scenes with the all-time recruiting class of 2022 and some of the returning veterans.
Here’s what we learned:
Explosiveness on the offensive end
“Explosive” was a recurring theme throughout Media Day when describing the potential of this Aggie offense.
Despite the loss of tight end Jalen Wydermyer and running back Isaiah Spiller at the skill positions, the Aggies have reloaded, adding three more tight ends, three more receivers and one freshman running back, Le’Veon Moss out of Baton Rouge, LA., to the backfield.
“We’ve got the weapons, we’ve got the skill, we’ve got the ability to be an outstanding offense,”
offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey said. “We just got to figure out who’s going to be doing the bulk of it at each position, and I think the competition is going to carry out throughout the season.”
One name in particular stood out from the rest. Freshman receiver Evan Stewart out of Frisco has already received the respect of his teammates and coaches and is undoubtedly the starter come Sept. 3 against Sam Houston.
“He’s fast in short areas, he’s fast with long speed and that all helps route runners get open when you can be as explosive as he is,” tight end coach James Coley said. “He is a prideful kid who takes a lot of pride in being prepared to have his toolbox and his skillset ready to go for practice.”
New guy on the block
As ex-defensive coordinator Mike Elko packed his bags to head to his new head coach position at Duke, ex-Ole Miss defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin walked in ready to help build off of what Elko left.
“He’s been doing a great job leading our guys and putting them on the same page,” Fisher said. “Very sharp guy, very detailed guy and a very good coach. The guys respond to him very well.”
When asked what drove him to College Station, the new defensive coordinator praised the players along with Fisher, who he coached against when he was an assistant coach at the University of Florida and Fisher at Florida State.
“I feel like this program and coach Fisher’s vision, proven track record and the things he does lines up here to really be able to do something special,” Durkin said.
As for his defensive philosophy, he and Fisher plan on building the players around the scheme, rather than the scheme around the player.
“I think you got to play [to] your player’s strengths,” Durkin said. “Our job as coaches is to make sure we’re evaluating our players, what do they do best, what do they do well and put them in those positions as much as possible.”
Next man up
During this past offseason, A&M sent 11 prospects to the 2022 NFL Draft, four of them being key components to the Aggies’ defensive line.
However, the absence of players such as Demarvin Leal, Micheal Clemmons, Tyree Johnson and Jayden Peevy along the defensive line hasn’t caused assistant coach Elijah Robinson to lose any sleep.
“We lost some really good players, we all know that,” Robinson said. “These guys that have been here had the chance to be behind those guys that left. Those guys are going to work their butts off to be good for us this year.”
One of the returners has not just caught the eye of his prospective position coach, but the eye of Fisher.
“I think [junior defensive lineman] McKinnley Jackson has really taken steps forward in how he’s playing, and he’s healthy now,” Fisher said. “He really stands out to me.”
The Lucedale, Miss., native has spent the summer training and teaching the younger guys how to do the “ordinary things.”
“Jackson, [junior defensive lineman Isaiah] Raikes and [sophomore defensive lineman Shemar] Turner have been getting the young guys around them, teaching them the small things and details,” Robinson said. “They lead by example, and the younger guys follow.”
Building the wall
As for the offensive line, they will be without both left tackle Jahmir Johnson and the last of the “Maroon Goons,” the Houston Texans’ first-round draft pick Kenyon Green, for the 2022 season.
Without having a confident starting five, junior offensive lineman Layden Robinson has high expectations for whoever they put in the trenches.
“The level of expectation I have for those guys is just greatness in general,” Robinson said. “We’re pushing each other as a whole, and the best of five as a whole that we have at the end of camp, that’s who is going to play.”
For the 2022 season, A&M will have two returning sophomores to the offensive line in center Bryce Foster and tackle Reuben Fathree II. Despite not having a for-sure starting five, whoever they choose to put on the line of scrimmage should be well deserving of the role, Dickey said.
“Our offensive line is physical, talented, strong and young,” Dickey said. “We do have more depth than we’ve ever had. We got more guys we think we can put into the game upfront than we’ve ever had.”

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