COLLEGE STATION, Texas – There is an adage that good things come in threes. Heading into the 2016 season, that’s certainly the case for Texas A&M at safety.
Armani Watts, Donovan Wilson and Justin Evans — these three safeties rival A&M’s defensive ends for the best position group in Aggieland. This crew is arguably the best trio of safeties in college football.
"We have Justin Evans, Armani Watts and Donovan Wilson. You couldn’t be any happier with them back there; they make you feel very comfortable," Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis said. "They all played well for us last year, and again they have improved."
Watts has become a household name among Aggies households. As a true freshman in 2014, he played in every game and eventually won the starting free safety job; he was fifth on the team with 59 tackles and led A&M with three interceptions. Last season, Watts became the first Aggie since 2010 with 100 tackles, finishing with 126 (second in the league). He led the Aggies in tackles by 45. Production has been a consistent theme throughout Watts' career and the expectations for him are exceedingly high entering his junior season.
Wilson is a dynamic player that coaches had to get on the field last season. Wilson, who had a shoulder injury that forced him to miss spring practice, has drawn comparisons to Tyrann Mathieu, the "Honey Badger," who was coached by Chavis at LSU.
Wilson finished fourth on the team with 63 tackles and led the Aggies with five interceptions last season. Wilson should be the Aggies' main nickelback this season. He will be a key piece to the success of an Aggies defense that wants to improve after a down season.
Chavis raves about Wilson's versatility: "He can play safety, he can play nickel, and there is no doubt about that. We are going to find ways to get him on the field because when it is all said and done, you want to get your 11 best players out there. And there is no question he is one of our 11 best."
Evans rounds out the trio. He was a touted recruit from Mississippi Gulf Coast CC and lived up to billing. He recorded 78 tackles last season, finishing third on the team. His physical style of play means opposing offenses must account for him in the middle of the field.
At Texas A&M's media day last week, Chavis said he had been impressed with Nick Harvey, Victor Davis, Priest Willis and DeShawn Capers-Smith.
Harvey, a junior who logged significant time last season, looks to have one of the cornerback positions locked down. Willis, who sat out last season after transferring from UCLA, and Capers-Smith are the top candidates at the other corner spot.
Aggies secondary coach Terry Joseph said coaches plan to play at least four corners in the September 3 season opener against UCLA.
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