AggieYell.com continues its countdown to the start of the 2014 season with its 30 players in 30 days feature on the most important players to Texas A&M's success for the upcoming campaign. The list continues with number 14, outside linebacker A.J. Hilliard.
Classification: Redshirt Sophomore
Height/Weight: 6'2", 230 lbs.
2013 Statistics: Redshirted after transferring from TCU
Why he's on the list: After trying to recruit Hilliard at both Houston and at A&M, Kevin Sumlin finally has the opportunity to coach the linebacker in a game. After a year on the sidelines after his transfer, Hilliard is now the Aggies' starting WILL linebacker.
He used the time off to his advantage, working out and gaining 20 pounds. Hilliard was impressive in the spring and continued his progression this summer, beating out senior Tommy Sanders for the job at WILL.
Even though Hilliard has some game experience during his time at TCU, he remains largely an untested player. Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said he hopes Hilliard can play in games at the level he has in practice, where he's proven to be a solid tackler, an good blitzed and respectable in pass coverage.
"He's one of those unknowns. He's shown great things in practice, great things in scrimmages, and now we've got to see him in a game," Snyder said. "If he goes out and does against South Carolina what he's done against our offense, he'll be good."
If Hilliard plays up to the potential he's shown in practice, the Aggies will have a potential solution at a need position.