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January 25, 2013

AggieYell Mailbag

Each week, AggieYell.com's Mark Passwaters and Jeff Tarpley take questions from their readers and answer them in the AggieYell Mailbag. Here's this week's sampling:

Q: How many offensive linemen does A&M take in 2014? (SEC_Ian)

A: It's not going to be a very big class in 2014, which may limit how many guys they'll take on the line. Right now, they're only offering elite talents -- Koda Martin of Manvel and Demetrius Knox of Ft. Worth are the only two in-state guys A&M has offered to this point (though Kealvin Davis could change that Sunday). Depending on how things go (and really, this includes how well guys like Germain Ifedi and Kimo Tipoti play this year), they could take three or four. But it'd be tough to take more than that.

Q: Can you make me feel better about our front 7 going into next year? (Waco6)

A: Honestly, I feel pretty good about the front seven at this point, with the possible exception of rush end, where Damontre Moore was. With the two Taylors -- Tyrell and Tyrone -- A&M should have two guys who (combined) can play rush downs and get to the passer. If Brandon Alexander really has figured things out, he can do both on his own. From there, Ivan Robinson or Alonzo Williams can step in for Spencer Nealy and play at a comparable, if slightly lower and less fired-up level and you'll have some bulk in guys like Isaiah Golden, Hardreck Walker and Justin Manning; Julien Obioha has proven he's a player.

At linebacker, Steven Jenkins is back and he'll be the guy next year. Donnie Baggs proved this year he's a capable player and he'll get the start in the middle. From there, if Tommy Sanders is what he's supposed to be, you've got a solid linebacker corps with young guys who can get playing experience backing them up.

Q: Are we still in play with Savage? What actually happened with Cameron Hampton? (aggies43080)

A: For the first question, yes, A&M is still in play with Savaiinaea. The question is, where on the totem pole is he right now? If the Aggies get a commitment from Daeshon Hall and/or Torrodney Prevot (and who knows, maybe someone else), the Aggies flat out don't have room. He wants to wait until signing day, and that may limit him to UCLA.

As for Cameron Hampton, A&M told him they can't take his commitment right now. Whether that means they totally cut bait with him is unclear at this point. Zack Whitley may be target one at MLB right now.

Q: Who is going to make some noise in the spring that we're currently not talking about? (Chance23)

A: I mentioned him a little earlier, but I really think Tyrone Taylor has potential to be a bigtime player. He was a lot bigger than his brother last year and got a chance to redshirt, which should get him to around 240 to 250 lbs. If he's still got that good first step and furious burst, he could be dangerous. On the offensive side, I want to see what Kimo Tipoti and Ben Compton do with a chance to win a starting job.

Q: Is our OL pipeline strong enough to not see a drop off in production from that unit? (MMurray88)

A: There's almost certainly going to be some dropoff, considering you're losing an excellent center in Patrick Lewis and probably the best offensive tackle in school history in Luke Joeckel. Having said that, the front line should still be quite good. Mike Matthews is a real good center and Cedric Ogbuehi should be athletic enough to move back out to right tackle without difficulty. Ben Compton played will in limited time last year and Kimo Tipoti's a big, mean dude, so one of the two should fill in acceptably. From there, it's just a matter of depth.

Q: What are the biggest needs in the 2014 class? (Big_Hen11565)

A: The defensive backfield, linebacker and defensive end. The Aggies have placed a lot of emphasis on those three positions already and, thankfully for A&M, it's a good year for all three. The Ags already have some good talent locked down at corner, safety and linebacker and are in good shape with several other 4- and 5-star prospects; while they don't have a commit at defensive end yet, they are sitting pretty with some big names there as well. It's a bit of good fortunate for A&M, and they're in the position to cash in on it.

Q: Hall or Prevot-In your opinion, which one do we have the best shot at signing? (dichotomic>

A: How about both? Many of the draws that pulled Prevot to USC to begin with are gone, and that program looks like it's in utter disarray; on the other hand, a school an hour from home is positioned to make a run at the national title. Hall is a little more difficult to read, but the A&M staff is extremely confident they'll get him on signing day.

Q: Will Mark Hagen recruit outside of Chicago for us? (Hurting_10toes)

A: Probably not, but his background there won't hurt. Brian Polian's history with the west coast and Hawaii helped land Jeremy Tabuyo; Marcel Yates knew the L.A. area, and that helped A&M get in on Sebastian Larue. David Beaty knows Kansas and the midwest, and that's helped get some prospects that otherwise wouldn't be interested in A&M to take a look. But those weren't their primary recruiting areas, it just so happened they were aware of talent there and went after it. The same thing's already happened with Jake Spavital and QB Justice Hansen from Oklahoma. A&M's recruiting base is going to remain Texas and Louisiana, but they have the capability to branch out from there.

Q: Name your top 3 position battles you will be most interested in going into the spring and why. (OferAg)

A: A couple I've already mentioned: rush end and right guard. But a couple more to watch will be the corner position across from Deshazor Everett, the safety job vacated by Steven Terrell, the pecking order behind Ben Malena at running back and the backup quarterback position as Matt Davis and Jameill Showers duke it out.

Q: Are there any QB options from the 2014 class that are as good or better than Kyler Murray (2015)? (adaml02)

A: That's tough to say, because Murray's pretty good and he's still got a lot more growing to do. But, as it stands today, yes, and that's why A&M has offered guys like Hansen. If they don't get them, that's fine; they won't reach because they don't have to. The numbers will work themselves out and Murray will be target one for 2015.

Q: Is there a natural leader yet among the 2014 guys, like Matt Davis or Ishmael Wilson? (Tidewater_Ag)

A: Not yet, because I don't think they really know one another yet. But I just have a hunch that that guy will end up being Cedric Collins, the first guy to commit. He's all about A&M and is already starting to push some guys to join him in College Station.

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