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 a pair of established starters at 5, Ben Malena and Deshazor Everett.
Position: Running back
Height/Weight: 5'9", 195 lbs.
2012 statistics: 138 carries for 808 yards and 8 TDs rushing; 18 catches for 111 yards and 1 TD in 13 games (9 starts)
Why he's fifth on the list: Expected to be Christine Michael's primary backup in 2012, Malena took over as the featured back a few games into the season and proved to be the perfect fit for Kevin Sumlin's office. An efficient one-cut runner with the ability to make plays in the passing games and an excellent blocker, Malena gained more yards than any other Aggie running back in 2012.
In 2013, the Aggies have another extremely talented backfield, but there's no question who the starter is. Malena has improved every year he's been on campus, and looks better than he did at the end of last year. What may be equally important to his production on the field is his leadership off it; highly respected by his teammates, Malena has developed into one of the leaders of the football team. With so many underclassmen on the roster and only a handful of seniors, Malena's calm confidence will be a necessity this season.
Height/Weight: 6', 185 lbs.
2012 statistics: 56 tackles, 2 INT, 1 TD in 12 games (all starts)
Why he's tied for fifth on the list: In his first season as a starter, Everett established himself as an upper echelon SEC corner. Big and strong enough to handle playing safety and taking on running backs one-on-one, Everett also proved to be an excellent pass defender with great anticipation by the time he picked off A.J. McCarron to turn away Alabama's final drive in A&M's 29-24 win, he was the unquestioned top corner on the football team.
Everett will start the season on the bench, dealing with a first-half suspension and a broken thumb. But, when he hits the field in the second half Saturday and remains there, he'll be counted on to handle the top receivers from opposing teams each weekend -- frequently without help, as the Aggies will likely be blitzing a lot this season.