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February 14, 2013

AggieYell Mailbag

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

With the move to the SEC, the success last season in football, and Dollar Bill being shoved out the door, are we going to revert back to the 1980's and 1990's Aggies that don't really give a flip about anything but football? Although the basketball team had a good win tonight, it seems like the arena is empty and no one really cares about anything but football. (Deathburger)

Tarp: Right now, the SEC as a whole is not putting a watchable product on the floor. You've got three teams that have been in the top 25 this season in Florida, Kentucky, and Missouri. Kentucky's there right now but with the injury to Nerlens Noel, they'll probably drop out. Missouri's lost to two teams in the bottom half of the league and gotten blown out by Louisville and Florida who are the only great teams that they've faced (and Louisville hasn't exactly been on a roll lately). You watch a Big East game and then turn on a SEC game and it's night and day in terms of watching big guys get post up or guards come off high screens to defend against a pick. There's just no comparison in the quality of the product.

A&M is a part of that problem. It's a perimeter oriented team that lives and dies by the three ball and it's ability to get good shots off. When things go wrong for that type of offense in terms of ball movement and shot selection, they REALLY go wrong. As a result, A&M is capable of playing some ugly basketball even when they win and everyone who understands the game knows that. It says something when the men's team only outdraws the women's team by about 600 fans. Throw in the resurrection of A&M football and spring practice starting in two weeks and it's just hard to keep people interested right now.

There have been a lot of discussions surrounding the new recruiting rules basically allowing an unlimited amount of coaches and resources to be used for recruiting purposes, how is this going to change the dynamic of recruiting and is this something our football program will be doing? (pooch11)

Tarp: We did an interview with 2014 Longview defensive tackle Zacoven Henderson last night. He talked about how much mail he was receiving from Texas Tech and how they were paying attention to him on Facebook and yet he hasn't set up a visit out there.

You can inundate prospects with letters, phone calls, texts, and instant messages all you want. At the end of the day, it's still about building real relationships with these guys, especially with the position coach and the area recruiter. If those guys aren't any good, then you aren't going to be any good either.

Also, people are making a big deal about putting people on staff and evaluating prospects, especially Nick Saban at Alabama who has four full time guys who break down tape of prospects. That's great except Saban takes guys that everyone else wants too. It's not like he's taking 25 guys every year that no one has ever heard of…17 of the Tide's signees in 2013 were four or five star prospects.

Does it help in terms of allowing coaches to spend more time in development as opposed to watching film of high school prospects? Maybe. If hire more people, do you have a better chance of finding people that can do the job? Probably.

Overall, quantity never matters as much as quality. If you can't figure out that Andrew Luck is the best prospect of the decade to come out of Texas high school football or that you are going to limit yourself by taking one running back, then all the staff in the world isn't going to make you better.

Q: Given the new faces & position changes, how do you think the 2013 OL will rate at the beginning of the season and the end of the season, assuming no significant injuries? (phastman)

Mark: Odds are the overall talent level will be a little less this year (that's what happens when you lose the best offensive lineman in America in Luke Joeckel), but the likely starters across the line -- Jake Matthews, Jarvis Harrison, Mike Matthews, Ben Compton or Kimo Tipoti and Cedric Ogbuehi -- will all have a year working under B.J. Anderson. As a result, the line has a good chance of being better at the start of 2013 than it was at the start of 2012, but the upside probably isn't as high. Still, they will likely be one the SEC's better offensive lines.

Q:If we lose out on Hansen for some reason, do we go after any other QBs in this class or just focus on Kyler next year? (LifeinHarleton)

Mark: Quarterback is one area A&M can afford to be very choosy. If Justice Hansen didn't have an existing relationship with new QB coach Jake Spavital, odds are A&M wouldn't be after him. With Johnny Manziel, Matt Davis and Kenny Hill in the system (with Kohl Stewart's future still up in the air until after the MLB draft), there's no pressing need for a quarterback and they'll likely wait on Kyler Murray unless they're blown away by someone.

Whos the backup QB? (Rjolliffe)

Mark: Matt Davis or Matt Joeckel. Joeckel may get first dibs in spring practice, but look for Davis to grab the job.

Q: Do you see LSU and Alabama making a concerted effort to go after "our targets" just to keep them away from A&M? (DNC)

Mark: No. That's not how they do business. In the day and age of 25-player signing classes, there's no room to just take a player for spite.

Q: Is Howard Matthews really fast enough to be an SEC safety? (renz_man)

Mark: He was A&M's starter down the stretch and should be to start the season, and those games came against pass-happy offenses. A&M believes he is -- and, finally, he's given them reason to believe in him.

Q: Starting DB's next year? including Hurd (PJAMVedder)

Mark: Deshazor Everett and Devante Harris at corner, Hurd at nickel, Howard Matthews and TBD at safety. Maybe Floyd Raven gets a look there; maybe it's Kameron Miles when he arrives. We'll have to wait and see what happens in spring practice.

Q: Which 2013 signed player has the biggest on-the-field impact for A&M in the 2013 season?
Which 2013 prospect that didn't sign with A&M will have the best 2013 season? (the one who got away)
Which current 2014 commit fills the biggest roster gap? (Zland77)

Mark: 1) Jaquay Williams 2) Mike Mitchell 3) Nick Harvey, with Hoza Scott a close second.

Q: Which 2013 recruit will have the greatest impact over their A&M career? (MM-PM)

Mark: Both of these are gut feelings, but Kenny Hill is the choice on offense and Kameron Miles is the choice on defense. Eventually, Hill will put up big numbers in this system and Miles could be a guy who plays from day one.

Q: Which 2014 recruit would you most like to see A&M get, that we have a good shot at if offered? (3DMan)

Mark: No question for me: Tony Brown. Best defensive back prospect I've ever seen.

Q: I know it's early, but other than Johnny, who do you see as stepping up and being the vocal leaders of this team? (Scotti)

Mark: Offensively, Ben Malena and Trey Williams come to mind. Malena isn't a big talker, but he's an intense guy who will do what he needs to to win. Williams does like to talk and he's not afraid to carry that kind of burden. On defense, Kirby Ennis is going to need to take charge in this area. Two other guys who might are Devante Harris, who likes to talk, and Deshazor Everett.

Q: How good are the Baltimore Orioles going to be this season? (Jverse2000)

Mark: Same as every year -- World Series bound.

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