Now, it's officially time for Texas A&M to panic.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin announced Monday that defensive lineman Gavin Stansbury has left the team for personal reasons.
"While we will miss Gavin being a part of our program, there is more to life than football," Sumlin said in an emailed statement. "We wish him the best as he focuses on the personal issues ahead of him."
The 6'4", 255-pound senior was slated to be a contributor along the Aggie defensive line, but an April arrest for misdemeanor assault put his future in College Station in question.
In the same statement, Texas A&M also confirmed that cornerback Victor Davis was arrested for shoplifting in his hometown of Rosenberg, Texas, and has been suspended, per school policy.
This is bad news for an Aggie defense that was already littered with uncertainty and bitten hard by unexpected attrition this offseason. According to AL.com, Stansbury is the fourth high-profile defensive player to depart Texas A&M this offseason, joining linebacker Darian Claiborne, defensive tackle Isaiah Golden and redshirt freshman and former 4-star safety prospect Kameron Miles.
|Departed Texas A&M Defenders' 2013 Stats|
|* Denotes Team High / CFBStats.com|
Stansbury's departure is huge, as Billy Liucci of TexAgs.com notes.
Significant loss for Aggie defense with Gavin Stansbury exit. Along with Darian Claiborne, that's 2 of 3 best on '13 D lost prematurely— Billy Liucci (@billyliucci) July 21, 2014
He and fellow defensive end Julien Obioha were being counted on to provide a veteran presence up front. As a bigger defensive end, Stansbury was being counted on to defend the run and drop down to tackle in pass-rushing situations to make way for hot-shot recruit Myles Garrett.
His job was already going to be more difficult because of the departure of Golden. He was inconsistent at times but did a great job in Texas A&M's final game of last year, controlling the line of scrimmage in the second half of the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Duke.
Now, Sumlin, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder and the rest of the Aggies need Garrett to come in and be more than a pass-rushing specialist right off the bat. Out of the question? Of course not, but that's a lot of pressure for true freshman.
Throw that on top of Claiborne, who was slated to be A&M's second-leading returning tackler, and Miles, who had all the makings of a superstar, and you have big problems in College Station.
Sumlin is a fantastic head coach who has proved at Houston and Texas A&M that he can adapt his offense to fit the skills of his quarterback. But it's unrealistic to expect the Aggies offense to continue at the level it operated at with Johnny Manziel—the most dynamic player in a generation—at quarterback.
The defense needs to take a significant leap forward this season, and without some of its better pieces, is that likely?
Defense doesn't win championships anymore, "just enough" defense does. The definition of "just enough" varies based on the type of offense a team runs. A&M couldn't get enough even with Manziel taking the snaps, and now it has to try to get to that level with a new offense and stars gone off of an already questionable defense.
Good luck, Aggies.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.
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