COUNTDOWN 2008 - Defensive Backs

You've heard about the offense, the defensive line and linebackers, now Aggie Websider's Chip Winfrey takes a look at the A&M secondary.

While the 2008 Aggies might be thin and short on experience at some positions, this fall's secondary returns as the most experienced, and deepest, unit on the field, as this year's returnees in the defensive backfield have a combined 97 starts among them.

Senior Devin Gregg returns at the safety spot after starting all 13 games in 2007. His 29 career starts make Gregg the most experienced player among Aggie DB's. Very solid in run-support, Gregg was the third leading tackler on the squad last fall, with 74 stops.

Joining Gregg at the safety position will be the hard-hitting Alton Dixon, a senior who recorded 77 tackles last year while garnering some All-Big XII honors. Dixon started 11 games for the Aggies in 2007, seeing action in all 13, and showed some promise as an effective pass rusher when blitzing.

Junior Jordan Pugh returns after starting all 13 games for the Aggies last season at the "whip" hybrid linebacker/safety position in the 4-2-5, but looks to move to the corner in 2008. Another returnee who earned All-Big XII mention last fall, Pugh led all defensive backs with 90 tackles in 2007, and posted at least eight tackles in seven different games, with an impressive 14 stops against the Kansas Jayhawks.

Danny Gorrer started the first seven games at cornerback for A&M last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Texas Tech. Prior to his injury, Gorrer had made 22 consecutive starts for the Ags. The Senior recorded 30 tackles and one pass breakup before going down in the seventh game of the year. Gorrer is expected to be fully recovered from his injury for the start of the 2008 season.

Senior Arkeith Brown stepped into the starting role following Gorrer's injury, and responded by leading the team with eight pass breakups. Brown saw action in all 13 games, posting 51 tackles for the season, and will provide talented depth at corner while challenging for a starting role.

Junior Jordan Peterson and senior Jonathan Batson return this fall, providing some very experienced depth, as well as versatility. Peterson saw action in 11 games last season in the defensive backfield, and also had 14 punt returns on the year. Batson returns after redshirting in 2007.

Demaurier Thompson also adds valuable experience and could push for more playing time this fall. Thompson saw action in five games during his freshman season.

The Aggie secondary has been somewhat maligned in recent seasons, having had a tough time of it against some of the Big XII's pass-crazy offenses. But the 2008 unit is long on depth and experience, and could show some real improvement under first-year Head Coach Mike Sherman and his staff.

Aggie Websider Grade: B+




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