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December 6, 2013

AggieYell Mailbag

Here's this week's edition of the AggieYell Mailbag:

Q: Are we done with OLine or are we still after Braden Smith, Casey Tucker and Nick Gates?

What are our chances with Tony Brown Jr? Gerald Willis? Speedy Noil? Kenny Young? Nacho? (sml2007)

A: Let's take these one at a time:

Smith: It's anyone's guess with him, but his coach thinks it's down to Notre Dame, TCU and A&M. I don't know what to think of Notre Dame, but TCU is where his sister goes to school. If it comes down to comfort level, A&M has a real shot because they've got David Beaty, who has known him dating back to his days at the University of Kansas, recruiting him. I tend to think it's A&M or TCU.

Tucker: Think he's pretty much set for Stanford.

Gates: No indication anything's changed here; A&M and Nebraska lead with an official to Oregon still to be taken. A&M still has room for him.

Brown: No official? No hope.

Noil and Willis: Continue to say the right things (heck, Willis has been wearing A&M gear), but it's still very difficult to believe they'll go anywhere but LSU. But A&M is probably the biggest competitor for them.

Young: I like A&M's chances here. LSU seems to be slow-playing him -- even though they've only got one linebacker committed -- while the Aggies are making their interest quite clear. Unless the Tigers turn up the heat, he could very well end up at A&M.

Iheanacho: LSU is interested, but Oregon may be A&M's biggest competitor for his services. If he had to decide today, he'd probably commit to A&M.

Q: Do you think Coach Sumlin will leave for the NFL after 2015? (Chuck70)

A: It's possible; honestly, I don't see how this provision that's supposedly in his contract could be enforced to stop him from leaving before that. It's going to be up to him on where he believes he is with his goals at the college level and how his family feels. He's already turned down the Eagles once, so unless he's won a national title in the next to seasons, I'd say no.

Q: Any chatter on any potential coaches being let go? If not yet, do you think there is the possibility of it later? (Dave2941)

A: Not right now. After the bowl game, it's possible, but at this point I'm really not expecting anything.

Q: How much did injuries account for poor offensive production in the last two games? Do you expect a return to mid season form in the bowl game? (brAG)

A: Injuries to one guy -- Johnny Manziel -- definitely hurt the Aggies down the stretch. That doesn't excuse poor line play or dropped passes or anything like that, but the centerpiece of the offense and college football's best weapon was really banged up. A few weeks off to rest his thumb, ankle and shoulder will definitely help, and A&M's offense should be able to perform at a higher level than it did the last two games.

Q: This season was an obvious disappointment. Can you give us something to be optimistic about for next season and call your shot on our two deep for next year? (CuriousGeorge85)

A: The defense should be much better and you still have a trio of excellent backs. There is a nice injection of talent coming in with this class. Kenny Hill is no slouch. Those are few things to look forward to. As for a two-deep, it's tough to do right now but here's a shot:

QB: Kenny Hill, Matt Joeckel
RB: Trey Williams, Tra Carson OR Brandon Williams
TE: Cam Clear, Brandon Alexander
WR1: Ricky Seals-Jones, Kyrion Parker
WR2: Edward Pope, JaQuay Williams
Slot1: LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Sebastian Larue
Slot2: Jeremy Tabuyo, Sabian Holmes
LT: Cedric Ogbuehi, Jermaine Eluemunor
LG: Avery Genessy OR Garrett Gramling
C: Mike Matthews, Ben Compton
RG: Germaine Ifedi, Ish Wilson
RT: Joe Cheek, Ryan Lindblade

RUSH: Daeshon Hall OR Myles Garrett
NT: Isaiah Golden, Hardreck Walker
DT: Ivan Robinson, Alonzo Williams
DE: Julien Obioha OR Gavin Stansbury OR Jay Arnold
SAM: Donnie Baggs, Shaan Washington
MLB: Jordan Mastrogiovanni, Reggie Chevis
WILL: Darian Claiborne, Tommy Sanders OR Brett Wade
CB1: Deshazor Everett, Tavares Garner
CB2: Devante Harris, Alex Sezer Jr.
Nickel: Noel Ellis, Nick Harvey
BS: Howard Matthews, Kameron Miles OR Jonathan Wiggins
FS: Dylan Sumner-Gardner OR Floyd Raven OR Clay Honeycutt

Q: Update us on the typical recruiting Q's:
Who do we finish this class with?
What are the chances of landing our top targets?
How many spots left?
Who currently do we have that are mid-termers? (6.William.Bs)

A: How many spots left? I expect them to be able to sign a full class.
What are the chances with the top targets? Think we covered that one earlier.
Who do they finish the class with? Just a guess, they finish with Gates, Iheanacho, Steven Parker, Edwin Freeman, Kenny Young and a couple of guys I'm not familiar with.
Mid-termers? Kyle Allen, Sumner-Gardner, Eluemunor and Gennesy.

Q: Anyone that redshirted this year that you think will be an impact player for us next year? Perhaps not Manziel/Evans RS freshman year, but anyone that will be significant difference makers? (Tucker123)

A: I'm going to cheat like mad and consider RSJ a redshirt (since he is, even though he played). He'll be huge. Kyrion Parker could really help. James White has been good this season, but it'll be hard to get him a lot of touches. On defense, Justin Manning could be a big help, and so could Reggie Chevis. Kameron Miles is another guy I'm looking forward to watching. There are others, but those are a few I could see really being helpful.

Q: How do you see the defensive backfield 2 deep shaking out next year and do you believe we will be better back there than we were this year? How are the younger guys (Garner, Ellis, Davis, Sezer, Miles, Wiggins) progressing? With that talent, is there still a possibility that a newcomer from the '14 class could come in a start back there? (_TheDON_)

A: Ellis is the starter at nickel next year; the coaches really, really like him. The two deep (up above) has mostly familiar names, but there's opportunity for a lot of people. Sezer is still learning the position, but there's big upside there; Garner could also be good, and like I said, I'm excited about Miles. The two newcomers I could see making an immediate impact are DSG and Nick Harvey. Both guys have tremendous athleticism, really good speed and solid coverage skills. They're contributors as freshmen, almost certainly.

Q: Is Kyle Allen good enough to start as a true freshman? (Ag in CircleC)

A: That's an awful lot to ask of any freshman, especially one in the SEC West. I like what I've seen on film and like that he'll be here early, but he's going to have to really be good to beat out Kenny Hill. And, if he does that, then the answer is yes -- he is.

Q: What is the latest on Matt Joeckel?
Staying for his Sr year or transferring and trying to play somewhere else? (RDock)

A: So far as I've heard, no mention of him going anywhere. He likes being at A&M, enjoys playing football in whatever role he's in and he's getting an excellent education. Like you mentioned in your question, he needs to be around because otherwise, you're seriously short on quarterbacks.

Q: Given we are most likely going to lose Johnny, Evans, Matthews, Ced, Malena, and several others, who do you see as the guy or guys who are poised to step up and be leaders in 2014? (tsip despiser)

A: That's a real good question. I think Deshazor Everett, Darian Claiborne and Julien Obioha can all take on leadership roles on defense; on offense, Mike Matthews is the first guy that comes to mind. I haven't seen enough of how Kenny Hill runs a huddle to make a judgment on him. Trey Williams may be another guy who fits that bill. Germain Ifedi isn't much of a talker, but you don't want to cross him, either.

Q: Do we have a chance with Davion Hall? (ag20)

A: Enough that Sumlin went to Texarkana. Outside of that, don't put a candle in the window waiting for him. He's never really shown any real interest in A&M, for whatever reason.

Q: Going into this year, we didn't account for how bad the loss of senior leadership and play makers would hurt our defense. Turns out it was a major blow. We'll be facing the same situation next year on offense with our seniors and those figured to leave early.

Do you think our offense will experience similar problems next year? Why or why not? (LifeinHarleton)

A: There's no question that losing Manziel, Evans and Malena hurts severely in the leadership department. If there is a positive here, your young players all largely have experience. Still, someone's going to have to step up. My bigger concern is being outplayed up front, causing problems for an inexperienced quarterback. Leadership comes in behind that.

Q: Just looking at the team rankings and not doing any diligent research, it looks like certain teams such as Bama, Tennessee, Miami, Florida State, Kentucky and Texas have to be pretty close to full as far as their 2014 classes go. On the other hand, we, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson, Georgia and Auburn are still in the teens. Do you expect this "keeping our powder dry" strategy to pay off for us as NSD nears? (Tidewater_Ag)

A: It very well could. It may help with guys like Nyles Morgan, Freeman and Young. The biggest competitor A&M has at this point is LSU, and I'm really not sure how many they can take this year. But, head to head, they're the prime foe at this point.

Q: Are there any players who we expect to have serious off-season surgery (the effects of which might carry over to fall camp)? (Texasoriginal)

A: Not at this point, no.

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