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October 25, 2012

Thursday (normally Wednesday) Talking Points

A few things for this week:

* If it's possible to get recruiting momentum from a loss, A&M got it Saturday. The Aggies have done a very good job of hosting recruits this year and explaining to them why they're needed and how they'll be used. A&M was a definite contender for Ricky Seals-Jones, Justin Manning and Mike Mitchell before the LSU game, but all three of them were blown away by the environment at Kyle Field and the fact A&M was able to stand toe-to-toe with a national powerhouse. One of the things Big 12 teams recruiting against A&M have been pushing with targets is that, sure the SEC is nice, but A&M will never compete. Well, coach Sumlin and his staff have blown that idea out of the water, and it's afforded them serious second looks from big-time talent. At this point, I wouldn't be shocked if two of the three names mentioned above end up as Aggies.

* By the way, some of the Big 12 programs have their own fair share of problems they now need to explain away before going negative on A&M. That's not always an easy thing to do, as the Aggies well know. When you've got the positive attention and a lot of publicity and the other guy's got a lot of negative publicity and people wondering what's happened to your program, it gets a whole lot easier to recruit.

* A lot has been made, justifiably, about Taylor Bertolet's (10-15 FGs, 35-39 PATs) problems in the kicking game so far this year. Just for curiosity's sake, I went back and looked at the last four kickers at A&M before him (Randy Bullock, Matt Szymanski, Terrence Kitchens and Todd Pegram) to see how they did in their first year on the job. In 1999, Kitchens hit a 62-yard field goal against Southern Miss; he was 15 of 23 on his other field goals and 36-38 on PATs. Pegram was 12-21 on field goal attempts and 32-33 on PATs in 2002; he went on to be a very good kicker before it was all said and done. Szymanski was 15-25 on his attempts in one year before packing up and leaving for SMU; Bullock was 6-7 and 15-16 respectively as a freshman after taking over for Richie Bean (who was 1-4 in field goals before getting the boot) in 2008, then regressed to 12-19 as a sophomore before becoming the best ever.

The takeaway from this: Taylor Bertolet is a freshman kicker enduring freshman problems.

* How productive has Johnny Manziel been this far in terms of total offense? Well, here's a look at how he stacks up to the last few guys in their first seasons as the primary (not the starter necessarily for the full season) starter at QB: Jerrod Johnson, 2008: 10 starts, 12 games, 2,549 total yards. Ryan Tannehill, 2011 (if you used 2010 totals, it's not close): 13 starts, 4,050 total yards. Reggie McNeal, 2004 (remember, he split starts with Dustin Long in '03): 13 games, 3509 total yards. There was a problem with the '06 stats, so I couldn't get McGee's. So, here's Manziel through 7 games: 2,659 total yards. He's already over Jerrod's numbers and is on pace to wipe out everyone else. That's quite remarkable, especially when you consider '04 was McNeal's junior year and '11 was Tannehill's senior year.

* Just a few guys in the '13 recruiting class that I want to touch on because I feel they're getting overlooked a little bit. Maybe it's the case, maybe it's not, but just a sentiment. Starting at wideout, a lot of people are talking about RSJ and Derrick Griffin and Laquvionte Gonzalez, but two guys who deserve more mention are Qunicy Adeboyejo and Kyrion Parker. Both are bigger wideouts, they're physical guys who can get off of SEC jams and possess good speed. Both were sort of question marks at the start of the year -- Adeboyejo had very low totals as a junior and nobody knew exactly what Parker brought to the table. This year, Adeboyejo already has 44 catches for more than 600 yards, while Parker is averaging better than 25 yards a catch (27 for 674 yards) and 9 TDs. A&M has had big receivers before, and they've had fast receivers before. These guys are both.

At defensive tackle, Isaiah Golden and Kerrick Huggins have gotten a lot of attention, but Hardreck Walker has flown under the radar since he committed. He's 6'2", 280 and has the frame to get much bigger. He's improved substantially in the last year-plus and works his butt off. He's got a good burst and could be a contributor quickly.

I think all four linebackers committed are overlooked in the Mike Mitchell-a-thon. Edward Williams is raw but hits like a truck; Reggie Chevis is a big guy who has no problem getting into it at the line of scrimmage and hitting people. Darian Claiborne is a tremendous athlete in the mode of Sean Porter and Brett Wade just has the mindset you want in a linebacker. All four could be very good.

At safety, Victor Davis is an outstanding athlete, but Jonathan Wiggins is a big, physical guy in the Howard Matthews mode. He could be that swing guy they're looking for, with the safety speed and linebacker instincts. He could be one to seriously watch.


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