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Texas A&M players opting out of the season have the respect of Jimbo Fisher, teammates

Texas A&M players opting out of the season have the respect of Jimbo Fisher, teammates

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20191227 TEXAS BOWL SPORTS MM 09

Texas A&M linebacker Anthony Hines III celebrates a stop by the Aggie defense.

Mond, who has played with Ausbon since their days at IMG Academy, said the talk ranged beyond just the football field.

“I always want to put his mental health first, and if he doesn’t think he can be on the field at this time, then I never want to pressure anybody to be back on the field,” Mond said Monday.

So far five A&M football players have decided not to play this season. The two most noticeable were the more recent to announce their decision: Ausbon and junior linebacker Anthony Hines III.

Aggie head football coach Jimbo Fisher said every players’ exit caught him by surprise, but with a global pandemic and racial injustice issues at the forefront of everyone’s minds, he understands.

“It always keeps you off guard because you hate to lose those guys,” Fisher said Monday on a Zoom conference call. “But at the same time, all those things that have happened out there today in this world and in recent times, there’s so many things and the way they affect young men and the way they affect families. We don’t always know the family effects that they’ve had and what those families have dealt with.”

Ausbon said he is going to use the fall to finish his degree and prepare for the 2021 NFL draft in his announcement on social media.

After initially announcing his intent to opt out of the season Sunday, Hines tweeted more information about his decision, saying he wouldn’t declare for the NFL draft and plans on playing for A&M in 2021.

“I’ve lost someone very close to me and my family to COVID three weeks ago,” Hines tweeted Monday. “I made the decision to opt out of this season due to concern for me & my family’s safety, as well as to try and make an impact off the field regarding social injustice.

“I plan to uses this fall to focus on the last class I have left here at A&M and get active in my community.”

The Southeastern Conference announced this summer that student-athletes who chose not to play this fall because of safety concerns over COVID-19 will have their scholarships honored. The NCAA backed up the promise, making it mandatory across the country in early August. The NCAA also said all student-athletes in fall sports will receive an extra year of eligibility regardless if they play or not this fall.

Fisher said he stands behind the conference’s decision to honor scholarships due to the current pandemic.

“That’s the rules and that’s their scholarship and that’s their right to be able to do that,” Fisher said. “I support it 100%.”

Linebacker Buddy Johnson will now play alongside Aaron Hansford in the middle of the defense, according to a depth chart released by the athletics department Monday.

“I was a little surprised,” Johnson said of Hines’ decision to opt out. “But mental health is very important. He knows everyone on the team is 100% behind him. I wish the best for him.”

Sophomore running back Ainias Smith said that because most of these decisions revolve around issues away from the football field, the locker room sometimes is unaware teammates have been considering to opt out.

“Recently with Anthony Hines opting out, I was honestly shocked and surprised, especially with a week left for the game, but it is what it is,” Smith said. “I have high expectations he’s going to do great things outside of football this year.”

Quarterback James Foster was the first Aggie to opt out of this season, and cornerback Elijah Blades and safety Derrick Tucker followed. While Blades did not give an exact reason, Tucker said his was to support Black Lives Matter.

Despite his involvement with Ausbon’s decision, Mond said that he never thought about opting out, nor does he foresee that happening this season.

Fisher said he doesn’t see any signs of anyone else choosing to opt out before the Aggies take the field for the first game of the season Saturday against Vanderbilt at Kyle Field.

“We wish those guys nothing but the best,” Fisher said of Ausbon and Hines. “We would love to have them, but at the same time we understand and respect everything they do. Both guys are outstanding students. They’re outstanding people and have done a great job for us. That’s just the times we’re in right now.”

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