Editor’s note: It’s a make-or-break year for Kevin Sumlin in his fifth season as coach of Texas A&M. His staff is loaded with experience and the roster is arguably the most talented it has been since his arrival in 2012.
Over the next few weeks, SEC Country takes a look at the 25 most important Aggies who will determine whether Texas A&M is destined for success or doomed for failure in 2016.
No. 22: Priest Willis, CB
He played nine games as a freshman, and saw the field in every game for UCLA as a sophomore in 2014. However, the fit still wasn’t right. After transferring in from the Bruins and sitting out the 2015 season, Willis is now eligible to begin his playing career with Texas A&M.
Willis excelled on the scout team for the Aggies, using his 6-foot-2 frame to blanket receivers in coverage and break up passes.
He must help fill the void left by losing both starting corners from 2015. The position saw healthy rotation throughout the recent spring scrimmage, with early indications pointing to Willis, DeShawn Capers-Smith and Nick Harvey battling for the two starting spots.
In the spring game, it was Harvey and Willis who got the starting nods.
A four-star prospect in the 2013 class, Willis was the top-ranked player from the state of Arizona. In addition to gaining Willis’ service via transfer, the Aggies have signed the top Arizona prospect in 2014 (Kyle Allen) and 2015 (Christian Kirk). Kirk is expected to be a staple in the offense this season, while Allen transferred to the University of Houston.
If A&M’s linebackers can take a solid step forward as a unit, it will open the door for the corners and other defensive backs to see significant improvement. With the length the coaching staff is continuing to build, quarterbacks will be hard-pressed to find open passing lanes against this secondary.
Check out previous entries from this series below, and be sure to bookmark the SEC Country’s Texas A&M Facebook page and return daily to see the newest names on the list.