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July 5, 2013

30 in 30: Golden brings needed bulk to DL

For the second consecutive year, AggieYell.com is marking the progress towards the start of fall camp with its 30 players in 30 days feature on the most important players to Texas A&M's success in 2013. The list continues with number 28, Isaiah Golden.

Position: Defensive tackle
Classification: True freshman
Height/Weight: 6'2", 320 lbs.
2012 statistics (at Carthage High School): 76 tackles, 32 TFL, 4 sacks, 4 FF, 2 FR, 18 QB pressures

Why he's on the list: Last year, the Aggies shocked the SEC not only with their win total, but how they made do on defense. Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder pieced together a unit that held its own in the SEC with minimal depth. That was certainly true at defensive tackle, where the Aggies started one guy (Kirby Ennis) pushing 300 pounds and another (Spencer Nealy) who was pushing 270. Their backups were a veteran who never fully recovered his burst after an ACL injury (Jonathan Mathis) and another converted defensive end, 265 pound Ivan Robinson.

Mathis is gone and Robinson remains an iffy proposition for 2013 after suffering an Achilles tendon injury in March, reinforcing what the Aggie coaching staff knew in January 2012: they needed to recruit big bodies at defensive tackle and fast.

To their credit, A&M's coaches did just that, adding a pair of four-star prospects in Justin Manning and Hardreck Walker. But the biggest, strongest and possibly most athletic of the bunch was the first one to commit -- Golden, who would end up being the longest-tenured member of the 2013 recruiting class to make it to campus (Kohl Stewart committed in July 2011, but would sign a baseball contract with the Minnesota Twins).

As soon as he arrived on campus, Golden rivaled Kimo Tipoti as the largest defensive lineman on the football team. While putting a true freshman in the two-deep at defensive tackle normally isn't optimal, Golden appears to be quite different from your average redshirt freshman. He's not only big, but he's already very strong before entering Larry Jackson's strength and conditioning program. He's also very quick for a player of his size and able to cut through offensive linemen to make plays in the backfield.

In 2013, Kirby Ennis will be the mainstay of the defensive line. Golden, however, will be counted on to back him up and play quality minutes. Next year, he should be the guy getting the starting nod and his ranking should go up significantly.

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