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5 bold predictions for Texas A&M in 2022: Devon Achane impresses, Alabama encore and more

The Aggies could land some statement SEC victories in the upcoming season.

Five bold predictions for the 2022 Texas A&M Aggies football season...

1. Devon Achane wins SEC Offensive POY

An Aggie as the offensive player of the year? This starts the list off pretty boldly already. While this hasn’t happened since the days of Johnny Manziel in 2012, if there is one player on the team that can take home the honor, Achane is your guy.

The junior from Missouri City, Texas had a huge impact on the Aggies’ offense last season. Appearing in all 12 games, Achane was second on the team with a total of 910 yards on the year. One of his most notable moments of the season was when he returned a kickoff 96 yards against No. 1 ranked Alabama, while tallying three receptions for 45 yards. Following suit, Achane recorded 558 yards in the remaining six games of the season. He also became the 50th Aggie to record 1,000 rushing yards in a single season.

The main difference this season lies solely in the fact that now-Charger Isaiah Spiller is no longer on the team. Achane was only 101 yards shy of the top rushing spot on the roster, and with Spiller out of the picture, it’ll allow him the chance to shine even brighter this season.

Not only did Achane have a great performance in 2021, but he is also the highest-graded SEC running back since 2020, according to Pro Football Focus.

“The guy averaged seven yards per carry,” head coach Jimbo Fisher said after the first day of fall camp. “There’s nothing that he can’t do.”

If Achane remains as versatile and hungry for wins as he was last year, there is no doubt that he will make a great candidate for the SEC Offensive Player of the Year award and may likely take the honor home.

2. Conner Weigman starts by Week 3

To start off, this is not to discredit third-year QB Haynes King or LSU-transfer Max Johnson whatsoever. Neither player can be counted out just yet, considering there is still the rest of fall camp to get through as well as non-conference games. If King didn’t have his season-ending injury last year, chances are that the Aggies would have had a better season. However, Weigman has a solid chance at winning the starting QB position.

The four-star recruit had several highlights from his senior year to boost him into his first season of collegiate play. As a senior at Bridgeland High School, he amassed 34 touchdowns and almost 2,900 yards on the season. He led his team to the state semifinals in just the team’s fourth year after the school was established.

Even though King has been on the team for three years, he has only appeared in four games total. This allows space for both him and Weigman to grow and gain experience. Meanwhile, Jones had a successful season last year with LSU, throwing for 2,815 yards and 27 touchdowns.

The QB battle will be an interesting one to keep tabs on. If the Aggies want a successful season, however, it may be smart to allow the healthier, younger player a chance at the starting spot.

“I think we have three highly talented and capable guys,” Fisher said. “It’s going to be really exciting.”

Whether it’s Weigman, King or Johnson starting on Sept. 3 when A&M takes on Sam Houston, it’s expected that all three players will have opportunities to show their in-game abilities before Fisher makes his final decision.

3. A&M beats both Alabama and LSU

This is probably the boldest prediction on this list. A&M has yet to beat both teams in the span of a single season since joining the SEC in 2012. However, with this team and the chip on its shoulder, it’s feasible that the Aggies can pull off both wins.

Taking a look at both teams and the results from last season, it’s easy to count out the Aggies. While the Aggies defeated the Crimson Tide, it was on their home turf at Kyle Field. This season A&M heads down to Tuscaloosa for the Oct. 8 rematch. It will be a fight to the finish for the Aggies, but if the team can get into a rhythm early on and stick with it, it’s completely possible that A&M can shut down the Crimson Tide and head coach Nick Saban.

Onto the Tigers, the Aggies had a tough 27-24 loss during the final game of last season. However, LSU is coming off two disappointing seasons where they went a combined 11-12 while A&M has gone a combined 17-5. After losing key players such as quarterback Joe Burrow, wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase, linebacker Patrick Queen and more following its championship season, the Tigers have yet to fully recover. This isn’t the same case for the Aggies who still have several star players on the team. Not only do the Tigers not have the depth they used to, but they’re also led by Brian Kelly, who is entering his first year as head coach. It’ll certainly take time for him to make a mark on the program. Looking at it from this angle, A&M has an extremely strong case for why it will likely win this season’s matchup.

While beating Alabama may seem far-fetched, it is still possible for the Aggies to defy the odds and bring a win home from Tuscaloosa. LSU, on the other hand, is a foe the Aggies could defeat if they stick to their game plan. Regardless, anything can happen in this conference and it’ll be interesting to see if this take holds up.

4. Walter Nolen wins SEC Freshman of the Year

Texas A&M made headlines after securing a commitment from the No. 2 recruit in the nation, defensive tackle Walter Nolen. It is no understatement that he is a beast on the field and one that opponents won’t be looking forward to going up against.

The Powell, Tenn. native had an impressive senior year, compiling 93 tackles (33 for loss), 17 sacks and six forced fumbles. His performance on the field helped his team win its first state championship.

Another factor worth noting is defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin is entering his first season with the Aggies. Durkin comes in from Oxford, Miss. where he was the co-defensive coordinator for the Ole Miss Rebels. He has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the defensive side of the ball, so it’ll be an added benefit for Nolen to learn from him.

A defensive player has not taken the award home since defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in 2011. However, with the potential impact Nolen could have, this is a prediction that could very well come to fruition.

5. Texas A&M will makes NY6 game

The last take on this list isn’t an unlikely one. With the Aggies already in the top 10 of the preseason coaches poll at No. 7, they are definitely a candidate to secure a spot in one of the New Year’s Six bowls.

While they might not make the College Football Playoff, the young team still has a chance to represent in one of the other four premier games. The last time the Aggies appeared in a New Year’s Six bowl was the 2021 Orange Bowl, where they topped North Carolina 41-27 behind an MVP performance by none other than Achane. Last season, A&M was selected to play in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl before having to pull out due to COVID-19 protocols. With the potential of this team, mixed with veterans and star recruits, the Aggies have a solid chance at making it back into the ranks needed to play in a New Year’s bowl game.

“We’re very talented and very young,” Fisher said. “Hopefully, we can have a good season. I love where we’re at. It takes time to build things, and I like where we’re at.”

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