January 12, 2010

Offseason Outlook: LBs add experience

Texas A&M headed into the 2009 season with a ton of question at linebacker, and although it wasn't as bad as 2008 the Aggies still have questions at the position. The only difference as that the answers, at least, appear to be on campus or getting their real soon.

The Aggies started a young group of linebackers in redshirt freshman Kyle Mangan, sophomore Garrick Williams and true freshman Jonathan Stewart to start the season. As the season wore one Stewart hit a wall as head coach Mike Sherman put it, and after originally starting in the middle for Mangan junior Michael Hodges joined the starting group on the outside for the final six games of the season.

All four will be back along with Ricky Cavanaugh who was lost for the season after two games to a knee injury. Freshman Sean Porter started two games for Williams at the SAM-backer position and showed tons of future promise on the field. Freshman Aaron Arterburn got into the mix as well in five games.

At times during the season the Aggies looked solid at linebacker, but it wasn't until the first half of the Independence Bowl in which this group really looked good. For the entire season, however, the SAM-backer was probably the one glaring bright spot among the linebackers. Williams was easily the most improved player this season among the defense outside of Von Miller and Porter showed signs of a promising career, which should set off a competition between the two this offseason.

And therein lies the improvement at linebacker this season - depth. The Aggies were scrambling in 2008 for bodies to play linebacker, and in 2009 the Aggies found those players but they were all very young. Mistakes among youth are common in college football, and now the Aggies bring everyone back and should have strong competition at every position.

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