The Texas A&M Football team will have one of the top offenses in the nation in 2013. Whether or not the Aggies will compete for a Southeastern Conference or national championship will depend on the play of their defense.
The Aggies lost six starters from the 2012 defense but should be a deeper unit overall in 2013. The Aggies will be solid on defense as long as a few of the incoming freshmen are ready to contribute from the opening game.
The 2013 defense will be a younger unit overall but should be more flexible as a unit than the 2012 defense. Mark Snyder will have more pieces to plug into his multiple schemes than he did in 2012 when he basically went with the same 11 starters for the entire season.
The Aggies return All-Conference caliber players at every level of the defense. This is a look at the top five players on the 2013 Aggie defense.
Kirby Ennis started 11 of the Aggies' 13 games at nose tackle in 2012. He registered 24 tackles with two tackles for loss and a sack on the year.
Ennis is very strong against the run and is a dependable player. He is not flashy but he gets the job done every week.
The senior from Huntsville, TX ran into some trouble off the field during the offseason. If he takes care of his legal issues, Ennis should be back and starting for the Aggies in the Fall.
Ennis will be an anchor for a defensive line that is replacing Spencer Nealy and Damontre Moore off the 2012 squad. Fans should expect Ennis to take on the double team and be a rock in the middle for the Aggie defense.
Julien Obioha is a sophomore defensive end for the Aggies. As a freshman he started at strong-side defensive end for every regular season game.
Obioha was injured before the Cotton Bowl and missed the bowl game. He started as a true freshman and registered 26 tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
Depending on the Aggies' needs, Obioha may move over to weak-side defensive end in 2013. If Tyrell Taylor proves to the coaches that he can do an adequate job on the weak-side, then Obioha will start on the strong side.
Obioha did not have tremendous numbers in 2012 but he was a very disruptive player who was constantly in the opposition's backfield. Expect to see a big jump in his sack and tackle for loss numbers in 2013 after a year in a college strength training program.
Some may question why a player who rarely starts is listed as the No, 3 defensive player on the team, but Toney Hurd Jr. has that kind of impact on the game. Hurd is the nickelback for the Aggies and started in seven of their 13 games in 2012.
He ended the season with 67 tackles and four tackles for loss. Hurd's interception against Ole Miss clinched the game for the Aggies.
Every time Hurd is on the field, good things happen for the Aggie defense. He is very similar to former Aggie safety Jay Brooks.
Neither Brooks nor Hurd were imposing physical specimen. They are both very good football players who made big plays that helped turn the tide in games.
Hurd has a knack for being around the football. As a senior in 2013, he will be a leader of both the defense and the team. Expect him to make more game-changing plays in 2013.
Steven Jenkins is a senior outside linebacker for the Aggies. He started on the weak side in 2012 and registered 79 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
Jenkins had an interception that he returned for a touchdown against Ole Miss to help keep the Aggies in that game. He should compete for All-Conference honors in 2013.
With the loss of Jonathan Stewart and Sean Porter to graduation, Jenkins is the only returning starter at linebacker. Donnie Baggs did start against Louisiana Tech when Jenkins sat out the game because of suspension, but Jenkins started the 11 other regular season games and the bowl game.
Jenkins is an impact player that opposing offensive coordinators have to game plan around. He should be one of the top linebackers in the SEC in 2013.
Deshazor Everett is the best football player on the Aggies' defense. He started 12 of the Aggies' 13 games in 2012.
Everett is such a versatile football player, that he started at both cornerback and safety for the Aggies in 2012. Aggie defensive coordinator Mark Snyder would move Everett to safety if the opposition merited it.
He was the best safety and cornerback on the team. Everett registered 56 tackles with three tackles for loss and two interceptions in 2012.
He is an extremely physical player who excels against the run. Everett's two interceptions tied for the team lead. Some are already projecting Everett will leave school early and be a first round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Everett will compete for All-SEC honors in 2013 and should be one of the better cornerbacks in the country.