Myles Garrett has more sacks than any A&M defender had all last season and is just 2 ½ shy of tying the eight sacks Jadeveon Clowney, the top overall pick in this year's NFL draft, had as a freshman at South Carolina.
Garrett was rated as the top high school defensive end in the nation last year after piling up 19 ½ sacks for Arlington Martin, Now he leads the Southeastern Conference in sacks.
"He's definitely a guy that really, really creates some havoc particularly on passing situations," coach Kevin Sumlin said.
The addition of the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Garrett has added a dimension to Texas A&M's defense that was lacking last season. The Aggies weren't able to consistently generate a pass rush in 2013 and finished with just 21 sacks. Sumlin oversold Garrett's impact just a bit when talking about what he's done for A&M's ability to get after quarterbacks.
"He's got more sacks right now in game three than we had all last year as a defense," Sumlin joked. "I don't know what else I can say, but he's doing a good job."
The Aggies have nine sacks this season, which is third in the SEC. Their pass rush has also been helped by the development of Daeshon Hall, a sophomore who appeared in each game last season and finished with 29 tackles.
Garrett had 2 ½ sacks in Texas A&M's 38-10 win over Rice on Saturday night and has 15 tackles, including 6 ½ for losses and four quarterback hurries this season.
"Just glad he's on our team, let's put it that way," defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said. "He brings some athletic ability to that position and being able to put he and (Hall) on the field at the same time gives us some athleticism. He's still got a long ways to go, but it's very comforting as a coach to see that you can put people out there who can create pass rush and allow me to be more flexible with what we do coverage-wise."
Sumlin doesn't allow freshmen to talk to the media, so Garrett can't discuss his big start.
The freshman sack record that Garrett tied with his performance is also held by Sam Adams, the eighth overall pick in the 1994 draft who played in three Pro Bowls, and Damontre Moore, currently with the New York Giants.
The Aggies love Garrett's work ethic and Snyder said that when he got to work last Sunday he found him sitting alone watching film.
"That tells you as a coach that he knows he's going against guys just as good as him, and he's preparing for that," Snyder said.
Sumlin has enjoyed watching Garrett adjust to the tougher competition at the college level and said they'll also have to tweak how they use him to counteract what teams do to try and slow him down.
"He continues to get better and what he's finding out now is that people recognize that and protections are changing and we're going to have to move him around a little bit to help him," Sumlin said. "I think he got a little frustrated (Saturday) with the protection, seeing some things he hadn't seen. Toward the end of the game he kind of figured that out and that's part of being a young guy, a young pass rusher. That's going to continue the rest of the year, nobody's just going to single him up."
The Aggies begin a stretch of three straight games away from College Station this week when they make the short trip to Dallas to face SMU.