STERN

Texas A&M tight end Jace Sternberger (81) is tackled after the catch by North Carolina State safety Jarius Morehead (31) during the first half of the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla. (James Gilbert/The Florida Times-Union via AP)

Texas A&M was hurt big time this year when it came to underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft, the worst since quarterback Johnny Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans declared for the 2014 NFL Draft.

Surprisingly, A&M wasn’t included among the nation’s teams hit the hardest in an article this week by cbssports.com’s Tom Fornelli.

His Top 10 is Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Penn State. All good choices, but you can make a case A&M should have been included.

A&M’s four underclassmen leaving combined for 103 starts. Running back Trayveon Williams and tight end Jace Sternberger combined for 2,870 yards, which was 46.8 percent of the offense. They also accounted for 29 of the team’s 57 touchdowns (50.9 percent). Williams was the SEC rushing champ and Sternberger had the best season by a tight end in program history.

Linebacker Tyrel Dodson had 70 tackles, second most on the team. How do you factor in 39 straight starts by senior center Erik McCoy, the unit’s leader? And how much better would they all have been with another year in Jimbo Fisher’s offense?

Those are huge holes to fill, especially for a program that hasn't been putting up back-to-back 10-win seasons. A&M wants to reach the point it is losing 4-5 underclassmen annually because they will be first- and second-round picks who have piled up a lot of victories in three seasons. None of A&M's underclassmen are expected to be taken in the first round and it wouldn’t be a total shocker if none were even taken in the second round.

Alabama is always losing studs, so it topping the list is expected.

Most of the others were hit hard as well, but Georgia’s four players had combined for only 61 starts. I’d say A&M was hit harder. I think it was also hit harder than Iowa.

Here’s a look at the other teams with heavy losses with their players’ career starts and 2018 statistics included.

 Alabama (7)

RB Josh Jacobs (3 starts; 120-640, 11 TDs & 20-247 receiving, 3 TDs), TE Irv Smith (14 starts; 44-710, 7 TDs), DB Savion Smith (12 starts; 60 tackles, 3 int.), S Deionte Thompson (17 starts; 79 tackles, 6 PBU, 4 FR), OT Jonah Williams (44 starts, Outland Trophy finalist), DT Quinnen Williams (15 starts; 70 tackles, 18.5 TFL, 12 QBPs), LB Mack Wilson (17 starts; 71 tackles, 7 QBPs)

Ohio State (5)

DE Nick Bosa (7 starts; 14 tackles), QB Dwayne Haskins (14 starts; 373-533 for 4,831 yards, 50 TDs, 8 int.), DL Dre’Mont Jones (36 starts; 43 tackles, 13 TFL, 5 QBPs), OG Michael Jordan (41 starts), RB Mike Weber (15 starts; 172-954, 5 TDs)

Penn State (5)

OT Ryan Bates (35 starts), DT Kevin Givens (23 starts; 33 tackles, 10.5 TFL), OL Connor McGovern (35 starts;), DL Shareef Miller (25 starts; 41 tackles, 15 TFL), RB Miles Sanders (14 starts; 220-1,274, 9 TDs)

Florida (5)

S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (26 starts; 71 tackles, 9 TFL, 4 int.), DE Jachai Polite (9 starts; 45 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 11 sacks, 6 CF), LB Vosean Joseph (22 starts; 93 tackles, 9 TFL, 5 PBU), RB Jordan Scarlett (21 starts; 131-776, 5 TDs), OT Jawaan Taylor (35 starts)

 Clemson (4)

DL Clelin Ferrell (44 starts; 55 tackles, 20 TFL) LB Tre Lamar (22 starts; 79 tackles), DL Dexter Lawrence (36 starts; 36 tackles), CB Trayvon Mullen (26 starts; 36 tackles, 3 PBU)

Georgia (4)

WR Mecole Hardman (6 starts; 34-532, 7 TDs), RB Elijah Holyfield (9 starts; 159-1,018, 7 TDs), TE Isaac Nauta (27 starts; 30-430, 3 TDs); WR Riley Ridley (19 starts; 44-570, 9 TDs)

Oklahoma (4)

RB Rodney Anderson (9 starts; 11-119, 3 TDs), WR Marquise Brown (21 starts;75-1,318, 10 TDs), OL Cody Ford (21 starts;), QB Kyler Murray (17 starts; 260-377 for 4,361 passing, 42 TDs, 7 int.; 140-1,001 rushing, 12 TDs)

Iowa (4)

TE Noah Fant (15 starts; 39-519, 7 TDs), TE T.J. Hockenson (25 starts; 49-760, 6 TDs), S Amani Hooker (8 starts; 65 tackles, 7 PBU), DE Anthony Nelson (27 starts; 45 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 6 QBPs)

Texas A&M (4)

C Eric McCoy (39 starts);  LB Tyrel Dodson (26 starts; 70 tackles, 7 TFL); RB Trayveon Williams (26 starts; 271-1,760, 18 TDs & 27-278 receiving, TD); TE Jace Sternberger 12 starts (48-832, 10 TDs)

LSU (3)

DT Ed Alexander (7 starts; 28 tackles, 4 QBPs), LB Devin White (25 starts; 123 tackles, 12 TFL, 12 QBPs), CB Greedy Williams (26 starts; 33 tackles, 9 PBU)

Michigan (3)

LB Devin Bush (80 tackles, 9.5 TFL), DE Rashan Gary (44 tackles, 7 TFL, 5 QBPs), CB David Long (17 tackles, 8 PBU)

Ole Miss (4)

WR A.J. Brown (25 starts; 85-1,320, 6 TDs), TE Dawson Knox (9 starts; 15-284), OT Greg Little (29 starts), WR D.K. Metcalf (19 starts; 26-560, 5 TDs)

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