A&M - Baylor: Talent Perspective

In the last two decades, A&M has been bested by Baylor only once. However, this weekend the Aggies will be the underdog as they head to Waco for the annual match-up. Aggie Websider's Taylor Freeman takes a look at the talent on both sides of the ball for each time, and tries to dissect why the Aggies are picked to lose.

There has been a lot of talk about the upcoming game between Texas A&M and Baylor, mostly regarding the fact that it is simply amazing that Baylor could be favored in a game against the Aggies. The situations of the two teams are very parallel; two teams with new systems and head coaches, missing out on the fun of the top 4 in the Big 12 South and trying to build momentum to join the party. One thing that is not in common, however, is the past recruiting ranks of these teams, with Texas A&M nearly always finishing in the top 25, and Baylor struggling to not be last in the conference. However, as we all know, some studs don't pan out, and every school can find that diamond-in-the-rough late bloomer. With that in mind, let's take a look at who is starting for each team, and the ranks of each player coming out of high school.

Baylor offense:

QB – Robert Griffin (4 stars, 2008)
RB – Jay Finley (2 stars, 2006)
WR – Kendall Wright (3 stars, 2008)
WR – David Gettis (4 stars, 2005)
WR – Thomas White (WO, 2004)
OL – Jason Smith (2 stars, 2004)
OL – Dan Gay (2 stars, 2004)
OL – J.D. Walton (2 stars, 2005)
OL – James Barnard (2 stars, 2007-JC)
OL – Chris Griesenbeck (WO, 2005)
TE – Justin Akers (2 stars, 2005)

23 stars, 29 years of experience

Texas A&M offense:

QB – Jerrod Johnson (4 stars, 2006)
RB – Michael Goodson (5 stars, 2006)
WR – Jeff Fuller (4 stars, 2008)
WR – Ryan Tannehill (3 stars, 2007)
WR – Terrance McCoy (2 stars, 2006)
OL – Travis Schneider (2 stars, 2004)
OL – Michael Schumard (4 stars, 2005)
OL – Lee Grimes (3 stars, 2005)
OL – Kevin Matthews (WO, 2005)
OL – Evan Eike (3 stars, 2007)
TE – Jamie McCoy (2 stars, 2005)

32 stars, 24 years of experience

On offense, Texas A&M outclasses Baylor by an average of .81 stars per position. While this is moderately significant, it is somewhat outweighed by the lack of experience and playing time this group has received, particularly on the offensive line. Not one player save Mike Goodson was used more than as a backup last year, which could explain for the lack of production given the talent.

Baylor, on the other hand, has a very experienced offensive line, replacing only 1 starter and utilizing two 5th year seniors. The stars they do have are in the skill positions, with rookie star Robert Griffin able to run behind experience and throw to talent.

Baylor defense:

DE – Leon Freeman (3 stars, 2007-JC)
DE – Jason Lamb (2 stars, 2005)
DT – Vincent Rhodes (1 star, 2004)
NT – Trey Bryant (2 stars, 2005)
LB – Joe Pawelek (2 stars, 2005)
LB – Earl Patin (3 stars, 2007)
LB – Chris Francis (2 stars, 2007)
SS – Jordan Lake (2 stars, 2005)
FS – Jeremy Williams (1 star, 2005)
CB – Dwain Crawford (2 stars, 2004)
CB – Krys Buerck (2 stars, 2007)

22 stars, 29 years of experience

Texas A&M defense:

DE – Michael Bennett (1 star, 2004)
DE – Cyril Obiozor (2 stars, 2004)
DT – Lucas Patterson (3 stars, 2006)
NT – Tony Jerod-Eddie (3 stars, 2008)
LB – Alton Dixon (4 stars, 2005)
LB – Matt Featherston (2 stars, 2005)
LB – Garrick Williams (3 stars, 2007)
FS – Trent Hunter (4 stars, 2008)
SS – Devin Gregg (3 stars, 2005)
CB – Arkeith Brown (4 stars, 2005)
CB – Terrance Frederick (2 stars, 2008)

31 stars, 23 years of experience

Same story, different side of the ball here on defense. The Aggies again maintain the talent edge by .81 stars per position, but come up short with experience. This is mainly due to the three freshmen that are currently on top of the depth chart in Tony Jerod-Eddie, Terrance Frederick, and Trent Hunter. While A&M has 3 4-star players, Trent Hunter is injured and likely out for the game, and Dixon is playing a linebacker for the first time in his career, leaving only Arkeith Brown as the 4-star in his natural position.

For Baylor, they have only two 3 stars that take the field defensively, but have excelled in finding the hidden gems, with their two best players Joe Pawelek and Jordan Lake being 2-stars from the 2005 signing class. Their rise in play and experience lead this squad where the stars do not predict, and overall have 6 more years of experience than the Aggie defense.

Overall, while Texas A&M does posses a talent edge from a recruiting perspective, the Aggies have suffered massive attrition and currently do not hold a significant edge with the players on the field. However, Aggie fans can and should be hopeful, for the current set of A&M impact players are young, and if anything underrated by recruiting services. They may marginally edge Baylor this year, but look to be on pace to widen the gap in the years to come.

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