ATLANTA, Georgia – Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher was first among coaches to address the crowd at SEC Media Days. In the eye-catching College Football Hall of Fame backdrop, Fisher was welcomed back to his former conference in overwhelming fashion.
The 2013 national champion head coach enters his first year in College Station after posting a 78 percent winning rate at Florida State. Having SEC experience at Auburn (1993-98) and LSU (2000-06), Fisher knows the toughness and physicality it takes to be a contender in the league.
“There’s no shortcut,” Fisher says. “The ‘I’ you don’t dot and the ‘T’ you don’t cross gets exposed in this league.”
Getting a team back to its winning ways after a 7-6 mark is easier said than done. But without a doubt, the success of the Aggies’ 2018 season weighs heavily on the defensive side of the ball. The team ranked tenth in the league in scoring defense (30.7) last season and ninth in total defense (408.5).
Defensive talent has not been the issue for Texas A&M, in fact, that reason alone may have been a legitimate cause to send Kevin Sumlin packing. The Aggies bring back eight starters headlined by the SEC’s returning sack leader Landis Durham.
DE Landis Durham
Landis Durham transitioned from linebacker to defensive end in 2016 and had his coming out party last season, totaling 10.5 sacks. The 6-foot-3 defensive end is still in the early stages of blooming, but his initial burst and aggressiveness help to cover his pass-rushing inadequacies. Durham plays with above average play awareness having a quick trigger to react and attack the backfield.
Durham does his best work when shedding blockers with a powerful rip through move and, though slow developing, a swim. A borderline Day 2 prospect according to many, Durham has the consistency and potential to headline a much improved Texas A&M defense.
DL Kingsley Keke
— Brent Zwerneman 📰 (@BrentZwerneman) July 16, 2018
SEC Media Day attendee and the top-ranked draft prospect on the star-studded Texas A&M defensive line, Kingsley Keke shines at the 0-technique position. Keke brings plenty of brute strength and burst to the Aggie interior showcasing his excellent run-stopping ability. The Texas A&M defender racked up 54 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and one sack in 2017.
He shows first step quickness off the ball being able to roll his hips into the offensive line and exerts his strength into the chest of the blocker. He has the noticeable strength at the point of attack but more consistency in that regard is needed. His subtle quickness to dip his shoulder and fly into the backfield accentuate his ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage.
Kingsley, a three-star recruit, has out shined his five-star partner, Daylon Mack, over the past few seasons. Mack saw action in all 13 games in his true freshman season ranking third on the team in tackles for loss (9.5) trailing only Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall.
DL Daylon Mack
Daylon Mack has seen his overall production and play on the field take a dip in years two and three. But even with the struggles, Mack got a vote of approval from his head coach today saying the senior tackle “has made as much progress as anybody” on the team this offseason.
Mack oozes with next-level potential starting with a quick burst off the snap. He uses that advantage to go to work quickly working both halves of his body. His impeccable first-step quickness can send opposing interior linemen into orbit when searching for the 320-pound tackle.
Looking back at Daylon Mack before his junior season…His combo of burst and power turns heads. Connecting the dots and consistency have been the issues. #TAMU #GigEm #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/mrV8d6U3So
— Christian Page (@_ChristianPage) July 16, 2018
Fisher looks forward to bringing his offensive philosophy to Texas A&M, especially when returning two capable quarterbacks. However, the unit with the most potential lies upfront on the defensive line. The presence of three NFL caliber linemen has this unit eyeing to be one of the better position groups in the SEC.