Texas A&M has had one of the most interesting offseasons in college football in 2022. The Aggies pulled in the nation’s best recruiting class with a staggering eight five-star players. However, some people grew suspicious of just how strong A&M recruited this cycle.

One of those questioning the Aggies happened to be Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who fired a shot about his divisional rival to the media. A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher didn’t take kindly to that shot, leading to one of the juiciest stories of the offseason. After multiple comments back-and-forth, the feud appears to be over, for now.

The Aggies are coming off an 8-4 season, but have massive expectations for 2022. A&M placed in the top seven of both preseason polls, and some even have the team winning the SEC. The Aggies have a brutal schedule in college football’s toughest division, but the talent is there for a special season.

Even with the hype entering the season, A&M’s title hopes rest on several key players. Whoever wins the starting quarterback role will have to perform for the team to reach its potential. However, one of the guys protecting that quarterback may be the Aggies’ biggest X-factor this season.

Texas A&M’s biggest X-factor in 2022 college football season

OL Layden Robinson

No matter how good a quarterback is, they can’t thrive without the big guys blocking for him. Fortunately for the Aggies, they had a good offensive line last season that should repeat in 2022. A&M allowed just 19 sacks on the season, the fourth-fewest in the SEC.

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Texas A&M’s offensive line was also very strong in run-blocking. The Aggies averaged 5.3 yards per carry in 2021, one of the best marks in college football. This group lost first-round NFL Draft pick Kenyon Green, but arguably the best player still remains.

Robinson is a massive lineman at 6-foot-4 and 330 pounds. He also has the skill to match and has received many awards ahead of the coming season. He earned a spot on the All-SEC Second Team, Sporting News’ All-American team, and on the watch list for the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy.

Robinson became a full-time starter for the first time last season. Despite missing two games with injury, he excelled in a greater role. His great blocking helped the Aggies rack up over 390 total yards per game even with their issues at quarterback.

The junior guard used to be one of the young guys on the offensive line, but now he’s one of the leaders. Robinson is looking forward to guiding his peers in the new season.

“I look around the locker room and I’m like, dang, all my old guys left,” Robinson told the Houston Chronicle. “I’m the ‘older’ guy here now. … This offensive line has a lot to prove, but we’re very excited. A lot of people might count us out because we’re a young group, but I say ‘no’ to that. We’ve got a lot of young guys who are hungry, especially the freshmen who came in.”

Robinson is already receiving hype for his NFL future. Some outlets even have him as a second-round pick in next year’s draft, and a strong season could boost his stock even higher. Fisher is high on his star lineman, calling him “as physical a guy” as he has coached.

The Aggies’ quarterback situation is obviously key for them, but it won’t matter if they can’t stay upright. Robinson, and the offensive line as a whole, is key to Texas A&M football reaching its full potential in 2022.