Texas A&M managed to carve together a solid passing game in 2021, despite losing Haynes King in the second game of the season to what turned out to be a season-ending injury. His replacement, Zach Calzada, took command of the offense and made sure that the passing game stayed on track.
The Aggies clearly wanted to build around running backs Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane. The pair rushed for a combined 2,008 yards and 15 touchdowns. But both were involved in the passing game, too. They caught a combined 49 passes, while tight end Jalen Wydermyer led the Aggies in receiving yards with 515.
So, the Aggies had a solid passing game. But, a good portion of that passing game was built around players at positions other than wide receiver.
So what does that mean for the receivers returning? Plenty.
Spiller is on his way to the NFL. So is Wydermyer. While Devon Achane is set to return and likely ascend to the No. 1 job, there are opportunities for this group after you get past its unquestioned leader, Ainias Smith.
What the Aggies must start to do this spring is sort through who will help Smith shoulder the load. The good news? All six members of the Aggies’ two-deep roster to end this season are set to return.
Stick with AllAggies.com as we break down the Aggies spring football depth chart outlook.
Preston was at the top of the depth chart at the final receiver position and finished 2021 with 17 catches for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Preston has already impressed Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher with his work ethic. Now he gets another spring cycle to see if he can provide the passing game a more consistent target. Preston also returned one kick for 14 yards.
Chase Lane was also a major factor in 2021 and will figure into the fold in some capacity in 2022. He is too talented to keep off of the field, and could even challenge for a starting role at some point.
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Demond Demas was the Aggies' most explosive deep threat in 2021 and figures to play the same role in 2022. Demas was lost for the season with a leg injury in November, and it is unknown whether or not he will be ready for the spring. Either way, he looks to be a lock for a starting spot in 2022.
Chapman ended the season as a starter alongside Smith but ended up with just 13 catches for 210 yards. He missed a good portion of 2020 with injuries, so working his way into a starting role is good progression. He’ll spend the spring improving and trying to fend off the player behind him on the depth chart.
WR - Slot
It’s so nice when you know your top wide receiver is coming back. Smith led the Aggies with 47 receptions, was just behind Wydermyer with 509 yards receiving, and led the Aggies with six touchdown catches. Smith passed on the NFL Draft, and the departure of Wydermyer gives him a real opportunity to put up better numbers in 2022. Smith also returned punts (23 for an 11.3-yard average).
Moose Muhammad III OR Evan Stewart
Muhammad was behind Smith on the depth chart at season’s end, so it makes sense that, at least this spring, he’ll continue to work behind Smith. Muhammad caught 10 passes for 153 yards, but four of those catches went for touchdowns. Muhammad had two of those touchdowns against Prairie View A&M, where the Aggies moved him around the field. Expect the Aggies to do more of that in the spring, as he deserves a shot at more playing time. Muhammad is also Smith’s backup at punt returner.
Perhaps the Aggies' most prized recruit in the 2022 class (which is saying something) Evan Stewart could provide the game-breaking ability and explosiveness that the offense so desperately needs. Stewart likely won't start the spring or the season as a starter, but could very well find himself in that position before long at one of the receiver spots.
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You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.