Texas A&M Football: Top 20 Aggie Defensive Players of All Time

Michael Taglienti@@miketag98Featured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2012

Texas A&M Football: Top 20 Aggie Defensive Players of All Time

0 of 20

    The Texas A&M football team has had a tradition of great defense going all the way back to their 1939 national championship team that led the nation in run defense.

    The Aggies have always prided themselves on a strong defense and despite some missteps over the past decade have produced some great defensive players over their history.

    The A&M defense has featured multiple All-Americans and national award winners, many of whom went on to distinguished careers in the NFL.

    As Texas A&M moves into the Southeastern Conference, which is the best defensive conference in college football, it is time to take a look back at the top defensive players to ever wear an Aggie uniform.

20. Billy Hobbs LB

1 of 20

    Billy Hobbs was a two-time All-American at linebacker for the Aggies.

    Hobbs was named All-American in 1967 and 1968. In 1967 Hobbs was part of Gene Stallings' SWC Championship team that went on to beat Alabama and Bear Bryant in the Cotton Bowl.

    Hobbs was named the SWC Defensive Player of the Year in 1967 and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1969.

19. Pat Thomas CB

2 of 20

    Pat Thomas was an All-American cornerback for the Aggies in 1974 and 1975.

    He was part of the 1975 Aggie defense that led the nation in total defense and contributed to the Aggies finishing with a 10-2 record.

    His 13 career interceptions rank him third all-time at A&M.

    Thomas was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams, with whom he went to the Pro Bowl twice and played in the 1980 Super Bowl.

18. Marcus Buckley ILB

3 of 20

    Marcus Buckley was an All-American in 1992 and helped lead the Aggies to a 12-1 record.

    Buckley was named the SWC Defensive Player of the Year after he recorded 70 tackles with 12 sacks, 21 tackles for loss and forced three fumbles.

    He was also a semifinalist for the Butkus Award.

    Buckley was drafted by the New York Giants in the third round of the 1993 NFL draft and spent multiple seasons in the NFL.

17. Jason Glenn OLB

4 of 20

    Jason Glenn is often lost in the shuffle when talking about the great linebackers to play at A&M. Aaron Glenn's "little brother" was a star in his own right.

    He had a brilliant senior season cut short by injury when he blew out his knee against No. 1 Oklahoma in a game the Aggies were leading.

    Glenn ended the year with 57 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, five sacks, three interceptions and an amazing 15 passes defensed.

    For his efforts he was named All-Big 12 and second-team All-American.

    Glenn recovered from his knee injury and played seven seasons in the NFL.  

16. Jason Webster CB

5 of 20

    Jason Webster is one of the most underrated Aggie football players of all time.

    He was named All-American in 1999 when he led the team with 10 passes defensed. He added 74 tackles and four interceptions.

    The first time Webster tried his luck as a punt returner he scored a touchdown against Oklahoma.

    Webster was known as a great person on and off the field. He was a second-round draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1999 NFL draft. He spent nine seasons in the NFL.

15. Ray Mickens CB

6 of 20

    Ray Mickens was one in a long line of All-American defensive backs at A&M during the decade of the '90s. He earned All-American honors in 1994 and 1995.

    Mickens had four interceptions in 1995 and three passes broken up.

    Although short in stature, Mickens was excellent against the run.

    He finished fourth on the career passes defended list.

    Mickens was a third-round draft pick by the New York Jets and played in the NFL for 10 years. 

14. Brandon Mitchell DL

7 of 20

    Brandon Mitchell was an All-American defensive end for the Aggies in 1995.

    He recorded 47 tackles with six sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He also returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown against TCU. Mitchell started all four years at A&M and was a great defensive end in the Ags 3-4 alignment.

    Mitchell went on to play multiple years in the NFL.

13. Ed Simonini ILB

8 of 20

    Ed Simonini was an All-American in 1975. He set the then-career record for tackles at A&M at 425.

    Simonini helped lead the No. 1 defense in the country in 1975 that allowed only 188 yards per game. That defense carried the Aggies to a 10-2 record.

    Simonini was a third-round draft pick by the Baltimore Colts in 1976 and is still revered around Aggieland as one of the best linebackers ever to play for A&M.

12. Aaron Glenn CB

9 of 20

    When Kevin Smith graduated in 1992 everyone thought the Aggies would experience a drop-off at the position. Aaron Glenn arrived from Navarro Junior College and all he did in 1992 was set an SWC record with 20 passes defensed.

    Glenn was an All-American at cornerback in 1993. He led the nation and set a school record for punt return average with 19.9 yards per return.

    He was the 1993 SWC Player of the Year after intercepting three passes and defending another 13. 

    Glenn was a first-round draft pick by the New York Jets.

11. Lester Hayes S

10 of 20

    Lester Hayes was an All-American safety for the Aggies in 1976. He intercepted eight passes that season. His 14 career interceptions rank him second behind Kevin Smith.

    Hayes was the free safety on a 1975 defense that led the nation allowing only 183 yards per game.

    Hayes had a long and distinguished NFL career where he became one of the top cover corners in the history of the league.

10. Jacob Green DE

11 of 20

    Jacob Green was an All-American defensive end for the Aggies in 1978 and 1979.

    In 1979 he registered an incredible 134 tackles and 20 sacks from his defensive end position. His 20 sacks are still the most ever recorded in a single year by an Aggie.

    He was a dominating force from his defensive end spot and was a first-round draft pick by the Seattle Seahawks. Green spent 12 years in the NFL and recorded 116 career sacks.

9. Johny Holland ILB

12 of 20

    Johny Holland led the Aggies in tackles in 1985 and 1986. He earned All-American honors during both years.

    Holland finished his career with 455 tackles, which was then a school record.

    He was a second-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers and once his playing days were over, he went on to an extensive coaching career in the NFL. He is now a coach with the Houston Texans.

8. John Roper OLB

13 of 20

    John Roper helped personify what a blitzing outside linebacker was supposed to be in the "Wrecking Crew" defense.

    Roper racked up 36 sacks in his career and was a terror off the edge in the Aggies 3-4 scheme.

    He earned All-American honors in 1987 and was named the SWC Defensive Player of the Year.

    He was one of the first in a line of great outside linebackers in the Aggies 3-4 scheme.

7. Jack Pardee LB

14 of 20

    Before he became a football coach, Jack Pardee was an All-American linebacker at A&M.

    He was one of Bear Bryant's "Junction Boys" who helped A&M win the 1956 SWC title. Pardee played fullback and linebacker in that era of ironman football.

    He was an exceptional linebacker who made big plays throughout the '56 season to help the Aggies win the conference title. Pardee was named first-team All-American in 1956.

    He does not receive a lot of credit for it, but Pardee was one of the greatest football players ever to play for the Aggies.

6. Quentin Corryatt ILB

15 of 20

    Quentin Coryatt was simply a freak of nature on the football field.

    He was one of the most physically imposing players ever to wear the maroon and white. Coryatt gained national acclaim when he knocked TCU wide receiver Kyle McPherson out of the game with a vicious hit that broke McPherson's ribs and jaw.

    Coryatt was All-SWC in 1991 and a second-team All-American. His freakish size-to-speed ratio led to him being drafted with the second overall pick in the 1992 NFL draft.

    Coryatt was the epitome of what a dominating inside linebacker should be.

5. Kevin Smith CB

16 of 20

    Kevin "Pup" Smith was an All-SWC corner for the Aggies in the early '90s and an All-American in 1991. He set the SWC career record for interceptions with 20.

    Smith was the definition of a cover corner and helped lead a defense that was No. 1 in the nation in 1991 allowing only 222 yards per game.

    The Aggies won two SWC titles during Smith's tenure at A&M. He became a kick returner as a senior and returned a punt for a touchdown against Rice and a kickoff for a touchdown against Texas.

    He was a first-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys and helped them win three Super Bowls during his career.

4. Sam Adams DE

17 of 20

    Sam Adams was a dominant force on the defensive line from the moment he stepped onto campus.

    He started as a true freshman and was un-blockable for his three years on campus. He was named All-SWC all three years he was at A&M.

    In 1993 he was named All-American and the national defensive player of the year by Sports Illustrated. That season he recoded 78 tackles with 10.5 sacks and caused five fumbles.

    Adams entered the NFL draft after his junior season and was a first-round draft pick by the Seattle Seahawks. He had a distinguished NFL career, including multiple Pro Bowl appearances and winning a world championship with the Baltimore Ravens.

3. Ray Childress DL

18 of 20

    Ray Childress was an All-American defensive lineman for the Aggies in 1983 and 1984. He had 117 tackles and 15 sacks in '83, and 124 tackles and 10 sacks in '84. Childress recorded an astonishing 360 career tackles from his position on the defensive line.

    After his junior season, then-coach Jackie Sherrill sent a life-sized poster of the All-American to all of the recruits that A&M was courting. The NCAA quickly created a rule that outlawed life-sized posters because they felt it was a competitive advantage that smaller programs could not afford.

    Childress was the best player on some bad Aggie teams but still remains one of the most dominant defensive players ever to don the maroon and white.

2. Von Miller OLB

19 of 20

    Von Miller won the Butkus Award in 2010 and was a two-time All-American. He led the nation in sacks in 2009 with 17.5 and led the Big 12 in 2010 with 10.5.

    Miller was the second overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft.

    Miller defined All-American on the field. He made play after play in 2010 to put games away. He led a goal-line stand to stonewall Oklahoma on four consecutive running plays inside the 5-yard line to beat the Sooners.

    He intercepted Garrett Gilbert to put the game away against Texas.

    Miller defined what it means to be an impact player on the field. Whenever a big play needed to be made, he made it.

1. Dat Nguyen ILB

20 of 20

    Dat Nguyen is the standard by which all A&M linebackers are measured. He won the Bednarik and Lombardi trophies in 1998 while leading the Aggies to the Big 12 Championship.

    He was a dominant force from his Mike inside linebacker spot, setting the school record for career tackles with 517. He is the only Aggie to ever lead the team in tackles for four consecutive seasons.

    He was named All-Big 12 the three years that he played in the conference and was a consensus first-team All-American in 1998.

    Nguyen was a third-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys and spent seven seasons in the NFL before a neck injury forced him to retire.