Each year, every team seems to have one player go from unknown to playing the role of an important contributor, or even superstar. For the Aggies in 2019, a trio of freshmen was considered to be breakout players – Isiah Spiller, Jaylen Wydermyer, and Ainias “Murder Hornet” Smith. Together, the three freshmen combined for nineteen touchdowns. Interestingly enough, each player had to step up for an injured/transferred Aggie at some point in the season (Spiller for Jashuan Corbin, Wydermyer for Baylor Cupp, and Smith for Cordarrian Richardson). It goes to show that in the game of football, your spot is never secure; the next guy up is always gunning for your spot. So, who will be breakout players for Texas A&M in 2020?
Three Potential Texas A&M Breakout Players in 2020
2020 will surely bring someone else to the radar that fans and even “experts” may not be paying a lot of attention to. The diamonds in the rough may be brought to light in week one, or maybe not until later in the season. Whoever the chosen ones are, and whenever they step into the spotlight is unknown, but, rest assured, someone will make the most of 2020. Here is a shortlist of prospects who could claim the title as the new big star in Aggieland.
Nickel/Safety; Junior (RS)
The 2019 season gave the world a glimpse at Devin Morris. The redshirt junior saw his first pieces of action last season and did not waste his time on the field. Some may claim his semi-breakout performance was overshadowed by the aforementioned freshmen. Maybe so. In only seven games, entering in special defensive packages, Morris was able to tally twelve tackles, two sacks, and an interception. Modest numbers perhaps, but when looked at with nuance, they were vital plays that caught the eye of many.
The Caldwell, Texas native is one of the remaining holdovers from the Kevin Sumlin administration. But unlike many defensive backs from the Sumlin era, he does not possess the unusual length like Myles Jones or Charles Oliver. Recognizing this, Coach Mike Elko bumped him over to play the safety and nickel positions. The fit looks like it paid off.
Going into 2020, Morris will likely play the nickel back a great percentage of the time. Recruited as an athlete, he has the speed to cover in open space and the physicality to make big tackles. There is some depth ahead of him at the safety position, but in this year of madness, Morris could very well be asked to play on the back end of the defense. Few Aggies made more of their opportunities last season than Devin Morris. If he repeats that pattern in 2020, Texas A&M may have a star on their hands.
TE; Freshman (RS)
If you hopped in a time machine and headed back to August 1st, 2019, a large amount of Aggie fans would have said Cupp was going to be the next big thing on campus. It would be the Brock, Texas native that would receive the torch from Jace Sternberger and continue the threat from the tight-end position. A few days later, those hopes were shattered as the 5-star recruit suffered a season-ending leg injury.
Fast-forward a year later and Cupp is back. His injury allowed Wydermyer to secure the starting job. Now, Cupp is playing second-fiddle to the big, burly tight end who was just placed on the John Mackey Award watch list. But, being number two on the depth chart isn’t necessarily a bad thing under Jimbo Fisher. The ball is constantly spread around in his system, and Kellen Mond makes sure his guys get their touches.
It would not be surprising if Fisher worked in formations and plays specifically for Cupp. At 6’6”, he constantly creates a mismatch wherever he is on the field. Pair him up in a two-tight-end set with Wydermyer at the other end of the line, and there are a plethora of plays the Aggies could run. Sure, he may be TE2 at the moment, but Cupp has 2020 in his sights.
The only true freshman on the list is here for a reason. While he has yet to play a single snap, Jaylon Jones is already projected to be starter no later than midseason. Even though the Cibolo, Texas product enters a seasoned cornerback room, his chances of seeing the field are high. Current starter Myles Jones had rocky freshman and sophomore campaigns. In 2019, he appeared to have made improvements, playing more crisp, disciplined football.
The addition of Jaylon Jones will add some competitive pressure to Myles Jones. How he handles that pressure will likely determine how early the younger defensive back sees the field.
Jaylen Jones plays smart football and is physical, two things that are tough to coach. His ability to play bump-and-run coverage will likely be what pushes him ahead of Myles Jones. The latter has the length and experience, but in the SEC, it takes more than a few niche abilities to succeed. It takes the whole package. The freshman seems to be more equipped with the tools to be a true difference-maker. Expect Coach Elko to work him in early and be a starter by the end of the year.
There’s always competition…
While these are the likely breakout players for Texas A&M in 2020, there could be others. There are those who argue JUCO transfer Brian George will breakout this year instead of Jaylon Jones. It’s possible. George is physical, more experienced, and just as fast. But when it comes to polished play, the freshman has the advantage. Coach Elko will likely see how special the 5-star recruit can be down the road and get him on the field as soon as possible. Presumably, senior cornerback Elijah Blades will cover the starting outside receivers, so Jones won’t have to deal with the likes of Ja’Marr Chase or Devonta Smith. His work will still be cut out for him, though. It will be up to Jones to make the most of it and develop to become A&M’s first elite, lockdown corner in a long time.