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Importing Defense

It’s unlikely that you’re going to come across anybody that would question the supremacy of high school football in the state of Texas. That is, as long as you're talking about offense. The state has numerous starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and has produced two straight Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks and an overall number one draft pick just in the last two years.

Steven Jenkins could be one of possibly six out-of-state starters on the A&M defense.

If you’re a college coach in Texas and you can’t field a decent offense, well that’s just on you. But what about the defense? Well, for the Aggies, they've had to look outside their borders.

Coming out of the spring, the Aggies have just three out-of-state prospects in the entire offensive two-deep, and none in the starting lineup. Cameron Clear (Memphis) will help the Aggies this fall at tight end and JaQuay Williams (Tyrone, GA) figures to be in the mix at outside receiver, while Jeremiah Stuckey (Pacifica, CA) doesn’t figure to be a major player on the offensive line this season.

That’s a stark contrast to the A&M defense which will definitely have at least three out-of-state starters and could have as many as six.

Steven Jenkins (Pensacola, FL) is a sure-fire starter at linebacker, as are secondary members Floyd Raven (Kenner, LA) and Deshazor Everett (DeRidder, LA.)

Tommy Sanders (Cordele, GA) is a likely starter at linebacker on the strong side opposite Jenkins, and whether Julien Obioha (New Orleans) starts or not the Aggies will have at least one out-of-stater starting at defensive end. Gavin Stansbury (Franklin, LA) was a starter at strong-side end all spring. Finally, Alonzo Williams (Long Beach or Abbeville, LA if you prefer) could potentially make it six starters if he can hold town his defensive tackle spot in the spring.

There are a few more out-of-staters in the two deep as well. Linebacker Shaun Ward (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) is in the mix at middle linebacker and Tremaine Jacobs (Covington, LA) will be solidly in the rotation at corner.

The Aggies could also add another out-of-state players into the defensive rotation this fall before the season even begins. Noel Ellis (New Orleans) could find himself in the mix at corner early on.

To be fair, the offense could add two non-Texans into the rotation fairly early as well. The Aggies need some help at slot receiver and Sebastian LaRue (Santa Monica, CA) and Jeremy Tabuyo (Honolulu) could see the field there this fall.

But the exact numbers aren’t the issue. A&M’s numbers reflect a larger trend across college football, and the biggest question is what has happened to the defensive players in the state of Texas? Are they there but we don’t see them because the spread offense has taken over the state? Or is it because the state’s best players all play offense?

Despite the trend in recent seasons, perhaps we’re about to see the pushback. In the class of 2014 just six of the top 20 recruits in the state of Texas, and none in the top five, are offensive players. And perhaps the rise of the spread offense has now given rise to a new generation of defensive backs. Of those 14 defensive recruits in the top 20, eight of them play in the secondary.

There are other aspects of the spread offense that are starting to show through in recruiting as well. The state of Texas hasn’t produced as many offensive linemen over the past few years as we’re used to.

However, while the future trends may just be starting to be seen, one thing is for sure. The 2013 A&M offense will showcase the pride of the Lone Star State, but the Aggie defense will have a decidedly multi-state feel. That is, unless Texas annexes Louisiana before the start of the season.

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