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Aggies Spring Depth Chart Preview: Stability and Change at Safety

Most of the position group is returning in 2022, but what will the hire of DJ Durkin do to the overall scheme?

The good news at safety is that Demani Richardson is returning in 2022. So the Texas A&M Aggies only have to replace one starter at the position.

Richardson’s announcement in January meant that one side of the depth chart was secure. Now, the major focus will be on who succeeds Leon O’Neal opposite Richardson.

O’Neal had a solid year for the Aggies, with 58 tackles, three tackles for a loss, a sack and two interceptions, the last of which was tied for the team lead Jaylon Jones.

The Aggies have a stocked two-deep at safety and at their nickel position going into spring workouts. But they also have question marks. What will new defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin do with those positions? Could a nickel slide over to safety, or vice versa? There will be plenty for the Aggies to sort out this spring and summer.

Stick with as we break down the Aggies spring football depth chart outlook.

Free Safety 1 Antonio Johnson

We’re guessing a bit here, in terms of the defensive scheme. But, given Johnson’s 2021 campaign, there is little chance of him not being on the field in 2022. He played nickel in the Aggies’ 4-2-5 scheme and had 79 tackles, 8 1/2 tackles for loss and a sack. He also picked up an interception. He was an All-SEC Second Team selection. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, he’s a natural safety and better emulates the build and play that O’Neal brought to this position. With O’Neal out of the picture, it makes a lot of sense to move Johnson here.

Strong Safety 1 Demani Ricardson

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With Richardson (6-foot-1, 210 pounds), the Aggies are getting a motivated safety that has his eyes on the NFL in 2023, and that could lead to even more improvement this spring and fall. In 2021 Richardson 65 tackles 6 1/2 tackles for loss, two sacks, and an interception. The former All-SEC Freshman selection did that in just nine starts. The best may be yet to come.

Free Safety 2 Bryce Anderson

One of the top recruits for the Aggies, Bryce Anderson is already on campus and will have an opportunity to prove himself this spring. Anderson is a tremendous athlete that can play either safety position and is a fantastic fit in the scheme DJ Durkin will be implementing in College Station.

Strong Safety 2 Jardin Gilbert

Gilbert was directly behind Richardson on the depth chart after the season, so the expectation would be that Gilbert (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) will start there in the spring. Gilbert played in all 12 games and finished with 14 tackles. He has a chance for more playing time and more production with a quality spring and summer.

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You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.