I don’t really know where to rank the Aggies right now. Losing the best player in the history of their school and one of the best players in the history of the game is not something easily overcome. Most teams have losses, but this is not an ordinary loss.
Johnny Manziel may be a once in a life time player and this will be a tall obstacle for the Aggies to overcome.
I don’t want to rank the Aggies very highly because of two things. Losing Manziel is the biggest issue, but the Aggies had the absolute worst defense in the SEC a year ago. They recruited an outstanding class this year, but it’s going to take a while before these defenders make a huge impact in college.
To make things even worse, they have a really tough schedule. They play #2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, my #3 Auburn at Auburn, #10 LSU at home and #12 Missouri at home. That is murderer’s row. Then, add Ole Miss and Mississippi State and you have a tough situation. SEC teams are used to tough environments to play in so the home field advantage may not help the Aggies that much.
I don’t think the Texas A&M Aggies will be horrible at QB this season. In fact, they could be pretty good. Coach Kevin Sumlin has always had good QB play kind of like Art Briles at Baylor.
It’s just that no matter how good the replacement is, he’s not going to be anywhere near the level of Johnny Manziel.
They have 2 QBs returning with some experience. Logic says returning senior Matt Joeckel (6-4,235) who threw for 293 yards a year ago, should be the starter, due to the experience factor.
I tend to believe that Kenny Hill (6-1,215) a sophomore from Southlake, Texas will take over the starting job. He threw for only 183 yards and ran for 37, but he is a much better athlete than Joeckel and he Quarterbacked the fabled Texas High School football program, Southlake Carroll, to the Texas 5A state championship.
Also, possibly a factor could be #1 ranked QB recruit, Kyle Allen (6-3,200) out of Scottsdale, Arizona. Allen should redshirt but he may be pressed into play. Allen is already on campus and going through Spring Practice, so he may have a legitimate shot at starting next season. He definitely has the arm and the talent to make an impact.
I am going out on a limb here and predicting that the next really great Aggie QB is going to be Kyler Murray from Allen, Texas but he hasn’t committed yet and hasn’t played his senior year of high school football. But, he is an outstanding talent and a proven winner already. His father played QB for the Aggies back in the 1980s under Jackie Sherrill.
Johnny Football led the team in rushing the last two seasons. The leading RB in rushing yardage was senior Ben Malena, but he was a senior.
Junior Trey Williams (5-8,195) was next in line behind Malena, and he should have plenty more carries this season for his junior year. He had 407 yards on the ground last season and 6 TDs and is a former 5 star recruit.
Tra Carson (6-1,230) like Williams is also a junior. He’s a bigger back and rushed for 329 yards and 7 TDs. The Aggies will probably run the ball a little more this season as they ease through the loss of a legend and I could see Tra Carson probably stepping up and taking over more playing time here.
OU transfer Brandon Williams (6-1,200) is yet another junior and had 269 yards on the ground. James White (6-1,220) is a redshirt freshman that will be available.
The Aggies have some big losses at WR. Mike Evans was their playmaker a year ago, but they also got big plays out of Derel Walker and Travis Labhart. Tough losses.
But, not all is lost.
Malcome Kennedy (6-1,200) had 60 catches for 658 yards and 7 TDs. He is back for his senior year.
LaQuvionte Gonzalez (5-10,165) is a super quick sophomore and had 21 catches for 240 yards.
Sabian Holmes (5-11,175) had 17 receptions for 210 yards and is back for his junior season.
Ricky Seals-Jones (6-5,225) is a guy to watch here. He injured his knee in high school and again last year, but if he is over that he can be a big play guy. He was the top recruit in the state of Texas a couple of years ago.
Edward Pope (6-4,180) is a tall WR that had 9 catches last season and could be a bigger factor.
Watch out for Speedy Noil (6-0,175). He is a 5 star guy out of Louisiana and has some tremendous speed as his name gives away. Frank Iheanacho (6-7,225) may be the best of all when all is said and done. They always say you can’t coach tall and Iheanacho is one tall receiver and last time I checked, I didn’t run across any 6’7″ defensive backs.
The Aggies will miss the top guys here, but they have some talent returning and some guys coming up.
Tight Ends aren’t of much use in Sumlin’s offense, but they do have Cameron Clear (6-6,270) returning. It seems a shame to waste a guy of this size and I am a huge fan of TEs.
Offensive line loses Jake Matthews, but they do have his brother Mike Matthews (6-2,285) returning at Center.
Cedric Ogbuehi (6-5,300) returns at right tackle and will move over to the left side in Matthews spot. Ogbuehi is one of the nation’s best.
Guards Jarvis Harrison (6-4,325) and Germain Ifedi (6-5,310) both return to the line up and are good and experienced.
I think JC transfers Jermaine Eluemunor (6-5,300) and/or Avery Gennesy (6-5,315) could end up starting at right tackle. Jermaine is a British chap and has not been playing long, but I do believe he has figured out the difference between American Football and the one the bloody Brits love so well.
Joseph Cheek (6-7,300) and Jeremiah Stuckey (6-4,300) could figure in at tackle. In the old category, I remember very clearly Cheek’s father playing. He had a good career at Miami after leaving Texas A&M.
Aggie offensive line has been good the past few years and we should expect that trend to continue.
As already mentioned, the Aggie defense was the worst in the SEC last season. I am not sure how soon that can be corrected, but they did land some prize recruits on that side of the ball. It’s not like some schools that know their defense is awful and refuse to try and do anything about it.
Looks like the Aggies are making the effort.
DE returns leading sack man, Gavin Stansbury (6-4,255) who is back for his senior season after leading the team in sacks with 3. Stansbury was also 7th on the team in total tackles so he had a productive season.
Julien Obieha (6-4,255), Daeshon Hall (6-6,245), Jay Arnold (6-4,275) are all back at end as well. Might want to save a spot for incoming #1 rated DE in the country out of Arlington, Texas, Myles Garrett (6-5,245). He should play immediately and these days if a recruit does pan out they are gone in 3 years anyway so might as well get them on the field. The lure of the NFL big bucks is too strong.
Qualen Cunningham (6-4,220) an incoming 4 star out of Arizona will need that redshirt year to fill out, more than likely.
Isaiah Golden (6-2,310) should start at tackle and he needs to focus on football.
Ivan Robinson (6-3,290), Alonzo Williams (6-4,280) and Hardreck Walker (6-2,300) will all be a factor here. As will incoming recruits DeShawn Washington (6-3,275) and Zaycoven Henderson (6-1,300)
Don’t leave out Justin Manning (6-1,290) who redshirted a year ago. He was a highly recruited DT out of Dallas and could make an impact here.
Darian Claiborne (6-1,225) will be the WLB and he was the 3rd leading tackler a year ago. Like Golden, he needs to think about football a little more.
Donnie Baggs (6-1,230) , Tommy Sanders (6-2,220) or Shaan Washington (6-2,220) should be a factor on the strong side or provide depth on the weak side.
Brett Wade (6-1,230) redshirted a season ago and might help out here. Incoming recruits Otaro Alaka (6-3,210) and Josh Walker (6-1,220) could play early.
In the middle, depth is sorely lacking. They have Jordan Mastrogiovanni (6-3,235) and Reggie Chevis (6-1,250). Chevis is a redshirt freshman and could take over here.
When 6 of your top 10 tacklers on defense are playing in the backfield, that is not a good thing.
Deshazor Everett (6-1,185) and De’Vonte Harris (5-11,175) were among the team’s top 6 tacklers and are back at their CB positions.
Howard Matthews (6-2,200) was number 2 in total tackles a year ago and returns at safety.
Clay Hunnicutt (6-2,200) and Floyd Raven (6-2,200) return at the other safety and both were in the top 10 in tackles.
The Aggies are going to have to see significant improvement on their defense this year if they want to compete for the SEC West title.
I don’t believe their offense will keep them in every game this season and they do play some tough teams.
I can see them going 9-3 or 8-4 this season.