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Signees refuel inexperienced front seven

7 linebackers, defensive linemen among signing haul

Published: Thursday, February 6, 2014

Updated: Thursday, February 6, 2014 00:02

After allowing 5,072 yards of total offense to end the season at a No. 57 overall defensive ranking last year, the Aggies headed into the offseason with a need — the front seven.

The young and inexperienced front seven surrendered 222.3 yards per game last season and came in as the No. 110 rushing defense.

“[We] had a depth issue last year on defense,” said head coach Kevin Sumlin. “The first attempt for us this year was to address those needs from an offensive line standpoint, and our defensive front seven — really our complete defense.”

The Aggies addressed their front seven vulnerabilities Wednesday by signing seven new faces — Myles Garrett, Qualen Cunningham, Otaro Alaka, Josh Walker, Deshawn Washington, Jarrett Johnson and Zaycoven Henderson.

Sumlin added depth to the class by swinging Otaro Alaka and Zaycovan Henderson from the Texas Longhorns in recent weeks, which improved the class to a consensus No. 5 ranking.

Myles Garrett, the top-ranked defensive lineman and No. 4 overall prospect, headlined this year’s class. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound signee from Arlington racked up 81 tackles, 19.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and four blocked kicks during his senior season.

Joining Garrett on the defensive line are defensive ends Qualen Cunningham and Jarrett Johnson and defensive tackles Zaycoven Henderson and DeShawn Washington. Cunningham, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound son of former A&M offensive tackle Rick Cunningham, was one of two players Sumlin added from Arizona, expanding the program’s recruiting boundaries.

“Across the board we have branched out a little bit, probably for the first time since we’ve been here, going out of state obviously to Arizona, Louisiana, junior college situation in Pennsylvania and a number of other states we probably haven’t been to before,” Sumlin said. “I think that speaks to our brand expanding east and west and the television exposure over the last couple of years.”

The Aggies added talent to last year’s linebacking corps with Alaka and Walker. Alaka, a two-time first team linebacker out of Houston, compiled 88 tackles, 9 tackles-for-loss and 11 sacks his senior season.


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