2021 will be an interesting year for the Texas A&M offense. The Aggies will have plenty of returning talent (looking at you, Isaiah Spiller, and Ainias Smith), but with several staples of last year’s offense also leaving the team, there will be some names you’ll hear on Saturdays next Fall that you might not have heard before.
Here’s a look at some of those new faces.
Texas A&M Offense Gets More Firepower
Haynes King/Zach Calzada | Quarterback
With four-year starter Kellen Mond headed to the NFL, there’s a position battle brewing in College Station. The most likely leaders of the Texas A&M offense in 2021 are Zach Calzada and Haynes King (although true freshman Eli Stowers is also competing for the job).
The first thing you need to know is that Zach Calzada has an absolute cannon for an arm. Hailing from Sugar Hill, Georgia, the soon-to-be redshirt sophomore has reminded many an analyst of a younger, non-Mississippian, not-plagued-with-questions-about-his-retirement Brett Favre.
Unfortunately, Calzada’s risk-taking tendency is also rather Favre-esque. His career statistics, though limited, tell the story: 12-24 with one interception and two touchdowns. Keep in mind that this was all in garbage time in cupcake games, but it still paints the picture of a gunslinger who takes some risks (even if they tend to pay off more often than not).
We’ll see whether some extra time to develop has helped a gambler like Calzada learn to know when to hold ‘em, and know when to throw ‘em.
On the other hand, current freshman Haynes King brings speed and elusiveness to the Texas A&M offense. Hailing from Longview, Texas, the Under Armour All-American nearly threw for 2,000 yards and added another 500 on the ground for the Longview Lobos his senior year. With a year at A&M already under his belt, any system issues should have worked themselves out as King takes his shot at the starting job.
He hardly saw any action during last season’s SEC-only slate, but in King’s limited showing against Alabama he showed off his legs with 43 rushing yards on five attempts. It may have been late in a game that had already been decided, but the kid can run for sure.
The main question facing the Texas A&M offense is how their offensive line will look after losing four of five starters. No matter the situation, King’s legs will be relied on. Either the Aggies’ offensive line is bad (in which case King’s mobility will be a necessity), good (in which case we will see more Mond-like options and designed runs), or average (in which case we’ll see a mix of both).
Any way you look at it, having a speedy dual-threat at quarterback like King will be something to look forward to.
Demond Demas | Receiver
Demond Demas is a pure athlete. Like so many other receivers he’s fast and sure can catch, but something else sets him apart—his leaping ability.
Demas won a state championship in the long jump as a sophomore in high school. Certainly impressive, but I’d like to draw your attention to a different anecdote. While at a camp, Demas casually started an acrobatics competition between his fellow recruits. Go look up the video. This dude looked like he was a gymnast, not a receiver.
He didn’t see the field too much in his first year in College Station, but that is generally more of a mental thing than anything else. Now he’s had a year to learn the Texas A&M offense. I’d look for him to make some exciting plays in 2021.
Devon Achane | Running Back
This one is cheating a little bit as Achane already popped off in the Orange Bowl, but he should absolutely play a bigger role in the 2021 offense regardless.
Texas A&M is pretty set at running back. All-SEC honoree Isaiah Spiller is the starter and brings a healthy mix of power and speed. Ainias Smith converted from receiver to running back before the 2019 Texas Bowl and has found his niche in the Texas A&M offense as a threat in the passing game as well as in the backfield.
But Achane? Achane is fast. Very fast. He is a dual-sport athlete, running track for the Aggies in addition to his gridiron efforts. In high school, he ran a 20.46 200-meter dash. For those of you not-so track-and-field-inclined, that is incredibly quick. Good for a then-ninth on the all-time high school leaderboard. And his speed shows on the field.
With Smith playing a role as a sort-of receiving back, I could see Achane being given more time in the backfield than he got in 2020. The depth is there, and Spiller did get banged up over last year. If that starts to become an issue again, expect to see Achane take the load off (and show off his speed while he’s at it).
Baylor Cupp | Tight End
The injury bug hasn’t just bit Baylor Cupp—it has feasted on him. The redshirt freshman was the highest-rated tight end in the 2019 recruiting class but suffered not one but two season-ending injuries before seeing the field in both 2019 and 2020, leaving teammate and fellow tight end Jalen Wydemeyer to develop into one of the Aggies’ stars.
Cupp brings a big frame and skill as both a receiver and a run blocker to the table. Given he’s had two years to learn the offense and develop in the strength program, both of those traits should see improvement heading into 2021.
Wydemeyer is one of the best tight ends in the nation, so don’t expect to see Cupp starting this fall. But head coach Jimbo Fisher has utilized a pair of tight ends in his offense on several occasions. Cupp and the ever-present Wydemeyer are the perfect one-two punch in that scheme and I would expect to see them on the field together at some point this season.
Enjoy this piece on the new additions to the Texas A&M offense? Follow me on Twitter @texiancurtis for more articles like this one.
Be sure to check out Overtime Heroics for all of your favorite sports content.