LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KTSM) – In Jerry Kill’s first season at New Mexico State, the Aggies defense became a top-30 unit in the entire nation under defensive coordinator Nate Dreiling.

Things will look a bit different for NMSU in 2023, after the Aggies lost nine defensive starters to either graduation or the transfer portal. Especially on the defensive line and at linebacker, NMSU is in search of players to fill the voids. Despite the new guys, NMSU thinks they’re ahead of schedule defensively.

“We’ve got all our different types of calls in, which we didn’t have at this time last year,” said cornerback Andre Seldon. “I feel like the coaches trust us more and we trust them more, so we’re able to do more things.”

The Aggies went about replacing last year’s key cogs with some high-profile transfers. Penn State transfer Jamari Buddin appears ready to step in at the linebacker position and Dion Wilson Jr. came over from Arizona to try to help NMSU’s defensive line.

Buddin in particular has appeared to pick things up quickly. A high school teammate of Seldon’s, he started his career in the Big Ten at Penn State, but made the move to NMSU after talking it through with Seldon. He was also looking to play quickly, which is one of the reasons why he chose NMSU.

Though the Aggies won’t say too much yet about how much they expect him to play, he has played quite a bit with the first-and-second-team squads during fall camp.

“It’s a very detailed defense and you really have to focus on your job for the whole play to gel. It’s been coming together and I feel like the defense is going to be really good,” said Buddin.

NMSU will find out just how good Buddin and its new defense can be when they open the 2023 season at home on Aug. 26 vs. UMass at 5 p.m. MT on ESPN.