August 6, 2007

Training Camp: Defensive Players to Watch

Texas A&M isn't worried about much of its offense as the Aggies head into August training camp, which starts Monday, but on defense the Aggies are still trying to shore up a few spots. A&M lost strong safety Melvin Bullitt, but seems to have a solid replacement in Alton Dixon.

The Aggies lost linebacker Justin Warren, but have Misi Tupe, Mark Dodge and Matt Featherston who all have experience in the 4-2-5. The defensive line is looking for some new blood, but it has experience although the Aggies are thin on the interior.

But A&M is in defensive coordinator Gary Darnell's second season of the 4-2-5, and head coach Dennis Franchione admitted at Big 12 Media Days that the first season saw a watered-down version of the 4-2-5 so that the players felt comfortable in the system. In 2007, more will be added to Darnell's defense, which could be the No. 1 thing to watch for this August.

This, however, is about the players, and here are our top five players to watch this August on defense:

5. Senior DT Red Bryant and senior DE Chris Harrington

Bryant and Harrington are the senior leaders of this defense, but neither has played a down since last season after sitting out the spring with injuries. Getting acclimated to being on the field again and feeling out how their injuries feel will be a top priority for the senior duo.

Harrington was A&M's top defensive lineman last season with 11.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. He'll be counted on again to be a top pass rusher from the outside. Bryant will be counted on more this season at tackle more than any other. Bryant is the elder statesman on a line that is very thin.

4. Sophomore WS Jordan Pugh

With the dismissals of Brock Newton and Japhus Brown, the weak safety position has fallen to Pugh who moves over from cornerback. This spring, with Newton sitting out the spring, Pugh probably already won the job after a fantastic May and April.

Pugh is a big time hitter, and is great in coverage, but doing it in practice is different from a game. A lot of eyes will be on Pugh this fall when he steps out onto the field as a starter for the first time. If you've seen how he handled tight end Martellus Bennett in spring practice, however, then you most likely think that Pugh will be just fine.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!