It is less than three weeks until New Mexico State opens the season against Washington State, which means we need to continue to plug along and preview the Aggie defense! Here’s who was lost last year, and who returns in 2019:
Returning: Cedric Wilcots II, Roy Lopez, Myles Vigne, Mike Edwards, Donovan King, John Graves III, Marcus Buckley, Justin Segura, Derek Watson, Xander Yarberough (TE last two years)
Departing*: Deshawnte Lloyd, Derek Ibekwe, Jassavia Reese, Jackson Solbeck, Humberto Renteria
Incoming: Tevan McAdams, Jomaious Williams, Lama Lavea, Benjamin Montel
*Arnold Saidov and Kai Golden are not listed on the official roster online. I’m not sure if they are still with the team or not.
In 2017, this unit was much improved going from allowing 244 rushing yards per game down to 166. This helped Defensive Coordinator Frank Spaziani produce a NM State best 43 sack season. They digressed last year, thanks in part to a sputtering offense early in the season, and then were hit with injuries and other problems. The defense allowed over 300 yards rushing five times last season and only held three opponents under 200 yards (two were Liberty, who isn’t a run-heavy team).
Fortunately for this unit, they gain more than they lose, bringing in four guys and only losing one starter. Most of the players from that 2017 unit are back for their senior seasons. This unit is big and experienced. In fact, Wilcots and Lopez have been pegged as potential NFL prospects by amateur draft analysts.
My only concern with this unit is that four of the first five teams the Aggies play love to run the ball, the only exception being Washington State. This unit will need to get through the first five weeks of the season in good health if they want to have any chance of getting back to 2017’s numbers, unfortunately. Regardless of stats, this unit is better than last year on paper.