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January 17, 2014

AggieYell Mailbag

Here's the AggieYell Mailbag for the second full week of January, 2014:

Q: How on God's (if you so choose to believe) green earth is there going to be a south end zone in 7 months and what is the contingency plan if there is not? (TAMU-83)

A: I'm not in the construction business (I kinda, sorta was once, but that's another story), but I'm sure the contract A&M has in place will provide...how shall we put this?...sufficient motivation to finish on time. I don't think you'll need Darth Vader showing up most displeased with their apparent lack of progress, but money talks. They're working long hours to begin with, and if they have to work longer, they will. I'm not saying they'll get sloppy -- that opens a whole new can of worms -- but they'll be working quickly. And, as for a fallback -- well, there isn't one. It's getting a little late in the game for those things.

Q: I know it is way too early to really think about this, especially since before NSD, but with our current expected depth chart, what positions do you think we will need to focus recruiting on for 2015? (Mattowander)

A: Focus number 1 has to be on quarterback, and your top targets there are Kyler Murray and Jarrett Stidham. Getting one, Murray especially, is almost a necessity. Running back appears to have already been addressed fairly well, so they need linebackers, safeties, corners, and interior offensive linemen. Getting some bigger defensive ends for the strong side, a stud receiver or two and a kicker would be good too. Outside of that, not much.

Q: Why can't we seal the deal with top notch LBs? Is there any chance Hoza qualifies? Please say yes. (meislu)

A: If you lock down Otaro Alaka (6th-best OLB) and Kenny Young (7th-best OLB), that premise goes out the window, so let's wait on that for a little bit. And they had the nation's best in Scott, and he didn't take advantage of the opportunity. So that answers your second question: no.

Q: Has Daylon Mack been listed as recruiter for any 2015 guys yet by Rivals?
Who do you think pulls the trigger this weekend, if any? (Coach_Hahn_05)

A: No, he hasn't, but he's the most active recruiter since Matt Davis. As for question two, Mattrell McGraw would be my guess, but since he has a couple officials left and said he wants to wait until signing day to announce, I think it's more likely that nobody pulls the trigger this weekend.

Q: What's your early 2 deep for the DL next year. (Junior 07)

A: Ok, let's try this:

Rush: Myles Garrett OR Daeshon Hall
DT: Ivan Robinson, Alonzo Williams
NG: Isaiah Golden, Hardreck Walker
DE: Gavin Stansbury, Jay Arnold OR Julien Obioha

They have more options than that at all positions, which makes it fun to speculate, but this is how I think they'll go early on at least. Garrett's just too much of a beast to keep down.

Q: With Garrett and Hall leading for pass rush DE, why wouldn't the coaches consider trying Cunningham or Johnson at Middle Linebacker? Both are about 6.3 weigh about 220 and run 4.7. Sounds the right size for an SEC middle linebacker. Does this sound crazy or maybe reasonable? (stormnorm)

A: I'm not buying, I'm afraid. I've thought about the prospect of seeing maybe Cunningham as an outside linebacker, but no way are the MLBs. First, it requires an entirely different way of thinking and playing from what they're used to; they'd have to call defenses, and that's not something they've ever done. What's their lateral movement like? This isn't north/south with occasional moves to side to side. How do they handle having blockers coming at them with a head of steam? 4.7 40s isn't good enough for a middle linebacker in the SEC, and 220 lbs. isn't heavy enough. Both of those guys can be very talented rush ends, but they're not middle linebackers.

Q: You had Howard Matthews on your depth chart; he was not consistent in his play to say the least. Even against Duke in the last game, he missed contain on Snead which cost us a lot of yards with Honeycutt saving a TD. Is there no one else, someone more consistent that you think can play the position next year? (Cal-aggie)

A: Matthews is a senior, so he'll get a little leeway, but what options do the Aggies have? If Kameron Miles blows things up and the coaching staff decides to move Deshazor Everett, then maybe Matthews takes a seat. Otherwise, he's probably going to be back in there come Aug. 28.

Q: Are there any "athlete" types the staff is looking at as 2014 db fall-backs, or are they confident with their options? (DriverD)

A: Not really. Looks like Nick Harvey and Armani Watts are going to be corners, which is about right for their size. Just can't help but think Harvey's going to be tremendous, and maybe that opens up a chance to move Everett to safety.

Q: Despite the general disappointment with LB play, the coaches do have a relatively large number available to develop, most all of whom were solid HS players. With a full year in the program and S&C, are you comfortable predicting any soph surprises from this group? (Old Army 74)

A: Two guys I will be watching very closely in the spring are Shaan Washington and Reggie Chevis. Washington didn't get a ton of playing time, but still tied for the team lead in sacks with three (sad commentary on things, that). He's long, fast and aggressive; if he can get more familiar with the defense, he's got the talent to be special. Chevis needed a year of conditioning, and now he's got it. He's big, he's mean and he tackles. If he can handle the playcalling responsibilities and can free himself up in space, he could be a real plus in the middle.

Q: Why did we not see Chevis or Wade get a shot to play when everybody else sucked? Same for Wiggins & Davis at S. (AggieInDC)

A: Pretty simple -- as unprepared as everyone else was, these guys were less so. That doesn't mean they're not players; it means they were not ready to contribute in 2013. I just mentioned Chevis, and Wade just wasn't big enough yet to play. Davis struggled mightily in fall camp, and he may be a safety and not a corner. Wiggins was still learning as he went. It might have been frustrating, but there was no grand plot against using these guys -- remember, the goal last year was to win the SEC, if not the whole thing. If they could have contributed in the eyes of the coaches, they would have been out there.

Q: Which 1st rounder will have the greatest and longest NFL career and why? Manziel, Evans or Matthews. (kic17ker)

A: For longest, I'll take Jake Matthews for several reasons. One, good offensive linemen stick around for a long time, and his dad, one of the best, stayed around longer than anyone else. He has durability built into him. As for greatest? That's tougher, but I'll say Manziel. First, he comes in with the hype already attached. If he gets to the NFL and wins, he becomes one of those players who helps redefine the quarterback position and how it is viewed. Johnny Football is a good season or two from becoming the Broadway Joe of the early part of the 21st Century. I'll tell him to ditch the fur coat when I see him, though.

Q: With a fresh voice in the room and another year of experience under their belt, do you see any of our current top 3 Safety (Mathews, Honeycutt, or Raven) being able to make the jump to an above average SEC safety?

Feeling on where Deshazor will play this year?

Feeling on if either of the two young safeties, a possible undersized LB, or a WR that is buried on the depth chart that could challenge for one of the two starting safety spots. (Sparky5)

A: 1) We'll see in the spring, but I'm not really optimistic. Things will improve with a pass rush one way or the other, though. 2) Again, we'll see what spring brings. If someone steps up and can play corner at a high level, I can see him being moved. 3) I want to see Kameron Miles, and Wiggins and Victor Davis to an extent. Hopefully they can make a difference and fight for playing time.

Q: Which redshirt from this year makes the biggest impact next year on offense ? Defense ? (ACSA82)

A: If he sticks around, I like Sebastian Larue's chances of making some noise. I also want to see what Ishmael Wilson can do on the offensive line. On defense, I think I've mentioned Miles a few times today. Outside of him, let's see what Justin Manning brings to the table.

Q: Mastro. After a rough Freshman year do you see him improving or growing into the type of MLB that A&M needs going forward in your own opinion? I'm having a hard time coming up with someone to compare him to that has had success on the college level although he does pass the eye ball test, but that is about it so far. (darterbury)

A: I don't have a comparison for him either, but that's ok. I haven't given up on him; some guys have rough first seasons. Von didn't set the world on fire, and Jonathan Stewart strugglied mightily his first two years before becoming a key part of the defense. Mastrogiovanni's a smart guy; the concepts of the defense won't escape him. If he's got the confidence to keep getting after it, he'll be a capable guy in the middle.

Q: Obioha: With the Hall having a year under his belt and M. Garrett coming in, could we see Obioha moved back over to his more natural position of SDE? Or was his success in the 2012 season at SDE somewhat of a fluke? (meaning, did D. Moore and Co make him look better than he really was? (DXB19)

A: I don't know if it'll happen in the spring, but yeah, I expect him to go back over to the strong side once Garrett arrives. The rush position was a terrible match for him and I think he got frustrated as the year went on. The team needed him to make the move and he did, but it would be better for everyone to get him back to the strong side. I don't think 2012 was a fluke; he can play. He just needs to be at a position that fits him.

Q: Maybe its too early to tell, but do you sense the Ags' "cool factor" has diminished in the minds of recruits given the departures of Manziel and Evans? Do you think Sumlin and his staff are good enough recruiters to maintain the A&M brand as THE destination in Texas? (JCW Ag Man)

A: As for the cool factor, no, not at all. Johnny may be gone, but Texas A&M is still the school where Johnny Football got to do his thing and Kevin Sumlin's still the coach. The Aggies are in the best conference in the nation, have won in the best conference in the nation, have been on national TV and are getting some sweet digs in 2015. That should be sufficient to keep them in any recruiting conversation.

Q: Interested to see how Charlie Strong might positively or negatively affect A&M recruiting. Do you think Strong and Texas are going to continue to slide or bounce back in 2015? (pblocker12)

A: Success is usually felt a year out, and failure the same. Coaching changes are one thing that can help or hurt a program for the current year and the next. Strong has already lost a number of commits from the '14 class and he's still trying to get everything together. A&M has a year's head start on the '15 class, and Strong's group of recruiters do not have a strong base or reputation in Texas. When Mike Sherman and Dennis Franchione arrived, Mack Brown greeted them by punching them in the teeth with the next recruiting class. The 2015 class is shaping up to allow Sumlin to return the favor.

Q: I was hoping you could give us an update on Kirby Ennis' rehab and NFL possibilities. Thanks (HuntsvilleHornet)

A: His rehab is on schedule and he should take part in A&M's Pro Day (remember, the draft has been moved back, so Pro Day is later this year). I've talked to a couple people in the NFL about Ennis and one of them told me, point blank, "He'll get a chance." Whether that means drafted or not, he didn't say, but Ennis' size alone will get him a good look with an NFL team.

Q: The bball team got lucky with some mediocre/bad teams and good 3 point shooting. They aren't actually turning a corner, right? (Ag4SEC)

A: Not sure what kind of answer you're looking for here, but Tennessee is not a bad team. The SEC is not a good basketball conference this year, and A&M can end up in the upper half of it. That may be tough to believe, but if A&M beats Mississippi State and gets out to a 4-0 record in conference play, having a better than .500 record in conference suddenly becomes very viable.

Q: Could you rank the 2013, 2014 & 2015 classes in Texas from a talent standpoint? We have our 2013 class on campus, 2014 is getting close and we are off and running with the 2015 class. How would you rank A&M's 13, 14 & 15 classes (I know 2015 is projection)? Do the 3 combined classes put us in a position to compete for the SEC title for years to come? (guns-n-bone)

A: All three classes have strengths ('13 was deep at wideout, '14 at defensive end, '15 at quarterback, for instance), but I think that top to bottom the '14 class is stacked. It's very good at defensive end and in the secondary; it's not bad at linebacker either. The quarterback class isn't deep, but the ones at the top are excellent; the same with wideouts. Running back, an area A&M really didn't need to address to seriously, is fantastic.
It's too early to say much about the '15 class for A&M, since it only has five members, but it's off to a great start. The '14 class is as good as I've ever seen from the Aggies; keep that up, and you're in the running for the SEC and more.

Q: Will the coaches go after Josh Mabin or Sizelove if they don't get Young or Alaka? (Ag20)

A: They could, but it would be a pretty tough feat to pull off. First, you have no idea when Young or Alaka may decide, and you've only got 19 days left before signing day. That's not a lot of time to make inroards to begin with, and even tougher if you're working on someone as a fallback.

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