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December 23, 2013

Dear Santa: a Christmas list for Aggie football

(Editor's note: This is my Christmas list for the Aggie football team. I don't have input into Kevin Sumlin's list. If I had his profession and commensurate salary, I would be preparing to buy a Caribbean island -- say, Cuba.)

Dear Santa,

Howdy! It's been a while. Hope all is well up at the North Pole. I heard that you still have ice up there, in spite of what Al Gore was telling us, so congratulations on that. I would ask for your thoughts on Pluto not being a planet anymore, but it's pretty obvious that's messed up.

Anyway, don't want to take up too much of your time -- just wanted to send a note with a few requests for a certain college football team. So, if you can please help with the following, that'd be great:

1. Let the Aggies find a quarterback. You were really good to the Aggies in 2012, Santa, when you gave them Johnny Manziel. But it sure looks they need to come back and ask for another guy to run the offense, because Manziel was too good to keep around for four years. It would be really nice if Kenny Hill takes charge and leads the offense, because he'll have a year in the system under his belt, he's got the arm for the job and he's got some mobility. Or maybe Kyle Allen can come in and blow everyone away. Either way, Santa, can there be a clear number one capable of successfully leading this team?

2. Let there be more carries for the running backs. Nobody can't say you weren't awesome in your gifts of talent here, Santa, because A&M will have Trey Williams, Tra Carson, Brandon Williams and James White in the backfield next year -- two five-star home run threats and two bruisers with some speed of their own. But these very useful toys got some dust on them this year because they weren't used all that much, especially down the stretch. Can we see more of them this year, especially with a new quarterback?

3. Let coach Sumlin recruit his own team well. I know, Johnny's gonna go away, Santa. But there are some other guys that may want to stick around. You know Mike Evans? Yeah, he's pretty good, isn't he? He would be an excellent security blanket for Kenny or Kyle or Matt Joeckel in 2014. And Malcome Kennedy would be nice too. But the quarterback will need to stay up right, so can you see about keeping Cedric Ogbuehi around? Thanks!

4. Let Sumlin find a hammer -- and not need to use it. It's a goofy-sounding request, I know, Santa, but it's sort of important. In the past two years, A&M has had 11 different players suspended for violating team rules or athletic department policies; six of them were arrested for everything from marijuana possession to brandishing a handgun or being involved in a fight. All but two were on the defensive side of the football. Now, none of these offenses have been enough for anyone to get kicked off the team, but it's publicity a program on the rise does not need and could be used against them on the recruiting front. So would it be possible for the players to stop making major blunders and the coaches making the threat of being kicked off the team very real -- and then never have to use it?

Yes, I know it's a tough one, Santa. But you came through with Optimus Prime when I was 8.

5. Let the Aggies find a pass rush. This is one is really sorta important, Santa. They lost their last one and didn't find it all year, and it created nightmares for everyone, especially the secondary. Maybe it will be Daeshon Hall or Myles Garrett, but both would be good. Shaan Washington tied for the team lead in sacks and we barely saw him for large parts of the season, so could he develop into a guy who can play every down? Actually, that leads into my next one...

6. Let the young linebackers develop. Darian Claiborne was a revelation this year, but he's in trouble now. The Aggies are going to need something out of Jordan Mastrogiovanni, and it looks like sooner as opposed to later. Washington could be very dangerous if he gets things figured out. Reggie Chevis and Brett Wade are going to be needed too, and Josh Walker could be needed as well. They need to be good because Tommy Sanders hasn't cut it and Donnie Baggs (who we know for sure is not a middle linebacker) has been inconsistent since returning to the outside.

7. Let Garrett, Nick Harvey and Dylan Sumner-Gardner all be ready to play. It's asking a lot for any true freshman to be an impact player on defense -- we learned that this year -- but if Garrett can rush the passer and Harvey and DSG can contribute in the secondary, the Aggies get much better. All of them have the ability, so it's up to you, Santa, to have them ready.

8. Let the Aggies get some more toys before February, especially on defense. Here are some names for you, big guy: Kenny Young, Steven Parker, Edwin Freeman. That would be, like, really cool.

9. Let Ricky Seals-Jones stay healthy. This guy goes up there with Trey and Brandon Williams as potential gamebreakers. So if he can stay healthy, the Aggies get substantially better on offense.

Thanks, Santa. We'll definitely see you next year when the baby girl arrives, but I'll have the scotch and cookies out for you this time around if you want to fill some -- or all -- of these little requests.

No need for a White Christmas, by the way. We're good.


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