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June 5, 2014

AggieYell Mailbag

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

Q: 1. Which RB will we add to finish the class?
2. Which WR do you think is least likely to commit: Lodge, Kirk, Chigbu? (AggieLuke04)


A: 1) I think the favorite, at this point, has to be Destrehan, La.'s Kirk Merritt. He's a good fit for the offense and appears to have serious interest in A&M. We'll talk to him this weekend at the 5-Star Challenge and get better sense of things. After him, Port Arthur Memorial's Cory Dauphine, a real speed demon and current Texas Tech commit, is probably next on the list. Depending on how the rest of the class goes, I could see A&M taking two more backs.

2) Chigbu, because I believe the Aggies are big favorites at this point to get Lodge and Kirk. That's not to say they're not the favorites to land Chigbu, as well, he's just not quite as open with who his favorites are. It's possible A&M gets all three.

Q: Break down our new QB commit. I know we all know what he brings to the table when it comes to our recruiting efforts and the respect the other high school kids have for him. I want you to break down what he brings to the football field. What are his strengths and weaknesses? What does he need to work on when he gets here? If Kyle or Kenny blows up this year can Kyler still come in and start? Can we call our new group of QBs the KKK boys?(Kyle, Kenny, and Kyler) (Carterr66)

A: This not much he doesn't do well. He's a very patient quarterback who works through his progression and does a nice job of buying himself time by moving in the pocket. When he does take off, he's got 4.52 speed, which doesn't hurt. In fact, his biggest problems may be when he does run, because he needs to make sure he takes care of the football and gets down instead of taking a hit (see Manziel, Johnny). When he gets to campus, he'll have to do what every other quarterback does - adjust to the increased speed of the defense.

Murray's a very confident guy, and he feels like he can start no matter what happens this fall. He wants to make it a competition as soon as he arrives, and that's one reason he picked A&M. He's not afraid to compete.

As for the KKK boys - no. Absolutely not. Just think about the what that will immediately remind people of. When I was a reporter in Huntsville more than a decade a go, a guy named Ken Keeling ran for District Court Judge. His middle initial was also a K, and someone made up an ad we ran in the paper with three big K's in a row. People immediately thought white hoods, and it nearly cost him the election. Let's not give anyone an opportunity to draw the wrong idea.

Q: Do you think Lodge and Moore moving up their recruiting announcement date had to do with Murray's announcement and not being left holding the bag? (Ag in CircleC)

A: No, I think it just has more to do with personal preference than anything. They'd both have spots on July 1 or Aug. 1, depending on when they wanted to pull the trigger.

Q: Status on all the guys who missed spring practice? (pebbycree)

A: With the exception of Ivan Robinson, whose football future remains in serious doubt, everyone else is expected to be ready to go when fall practice begins.

Q: Early enrollees for 2015 class? (Smooth Obturator)

A: JUCO S Justin Evans is one; WR Christian Kirk, should he pick A&M, would be another. A third possibility is an intriguing one: Daylon Mack, who had been planning on an early graduation. We'll see if that's still the case over the weekend.

Q: Handicap the undrafted free agents on whether or not they make the team (or practice squad) they signed with. I know it's early in the evaluation process, but is anyone turning heads? (brennan_90)

A: Just on the sheer needs of the teams that signed them, I really like the chances of both Ben Malena and Derel Walker to stick with Dallas and Tennessee, respectively. Malena's versatility has already impressed in OTAs, and the Titans are thin at receiver. Walker can play special teams, which will help his cause. I think Travis Labhart has a good shot of making the Texans, because they have a bunch of guys who are big, fast and can't catch. He's not big, not fast but can catch, and they've needed that kind of guy for a long time. I don't know if Nate Askew can stick on a 53-man roster, but someone's going to sign him to their practice squad to let him develop. He's got too much athleticism to be wasted.

Q: 1. Is Kyle Field on schedule? 2. Do we end up with a top 5 class?

A: 1) Yes, supposedly
2) Yes, supposedly

Q: How big was Daniel House's commitment to A&M? If he gets the waiver, is he an instant starter? How will the team look with House and Trocha on the floor? (sml2007)

A: House's commitment was a very big deal. He's the big 2 guard the Aggies lost when Jamal Jones left, and they get a more talented player and an extra year. If he gets the waiver, he'll start, no doubt. This kid is a talent A&M hasn't seen in a while. With him, House and Trocha on the floor, they'll have a lot of athleticism, a fair amount of size - but not much of a physical presence. Last year, they were a perimeter team who struggled to shoot and rebound; hopefully these guys can crash the boards better, but there's still not much bulk.

Q: Will Chris Warren get an offer? (Lesser IQ)

A: At this point, I would not consider him a priority for A&M. Maybe if a couple of other guys they're targeting go elsewhere, but at this point, no.

Q: Can you give us more insight into the recruitment of Mike Mitchell and his Brother? (Mr. Magoo)

A: I really think it came down to Mitchell liking Kliff Kingsbury and Matt Wallerstedt more than any other coach/DC combination. After he visited Texas Tech, he was pretty much done. He also seems to like the idea of playing in a conference that has a lot of spread offenses, so he can use his speed - in this case, the SEC almost appeared to be a turnoff.

Q: What is Lockhart's offer? I didn't think the staff was interested in him at DE. Is there any talk suggesting he plays inside? (Hurting_10toes)<./b>

A: He's being recruited as a defensive end, but he's already big enough and has the frame that he could end up on the interior. I didn't think much of that idea on Monday, but the events of Tuesday made me think it's a realistic possibility. Whether that's been discussed with him, I don't know.

Q: Any updates on pending legal issues? I assume RSJ's boggus arrest has blown over, but what about Gavin Stansbury? (AzAg80)

A: Both cases are still pending, but I think it's largely recognized that RSJ's arrest was a joke.

Q: How does the looming 2014 trainwreck affect our current commits and the 2016 guys? Are there any committed but contingent on an 8-9 win season? (waymore blues)

A: Take all sharp instruments away from Waymore, kids. First, there's still no reason to think there's going to be a "looming train wreck"; that's being extremely pessimistic. First, A&M is going to win all four non-conference games, and should beat Arkansas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. That's 7 wins and not a train wreck in what is already supposed to be a rebuilding year. The recruits know they've been recruited to fill specific needs and know the talent is either developing on campus or on its way, so I doubt many would look elsewhere.

Q: 2 deep in the front 7 after dismissals? (Waco6)

A: I'll stick with this:

RUSH: Myles Garrett, Daeshon Hall
DT: Alonzo Williams, Justin Manning
NOSE: Zaycoven Henderson, Hardreck Walker
DE: Gavin Stansbury, Julien Obioha

WILL: Donnie Baggs, Tommy Sanders
MIKE: Jordan Mastrogiovanni, Reggie Chevis
SAM: AJ Hilliard, Shaan Washington

BS: Howard Matthews, Devonta Burns
FS: Nick Harvey, Floyd Raven

NICKEL: Noel Ellis, Alex Sezer

Q: Mark, I have a few, let me know what you think.

1. With the dismissal of Golden and Claiborn, does this help recruiting due to more spots available?
2. I think we all agree, but how do you feel Sumlin handled the situation.
3. With our option at QB being very young, do you see any of our backs competing for big time accolades (Walker and Heisman) type recognition? (Mackey25)

A: 1) I don't know if it helped, but you do have two more ships to play with. The Aggies already got a defensive tackle to fill a need in Kingsley Keke, but they need to really push to find some quality outside linebackers.
2) I don't think he had a choice. His hand was forced by the severity of the offenses.
3) No. I don't think one of them will get enough carries to get into those conversations.

Q: With Golden and Claiborne being dismissed from school, what prospects will A&M target for help at DT and LB in the 2015 class? (Don Draper)

A: Well, we already know about Keke at DT. They may take another guy, or stand pat and use someone like Jay Arnold or Lockhart for occasional snaps on the inside. As for linebacker, there's a real good chance A&M lands Richard Moore in a couple of weeks. But you need to keep pushing for Malik Jefferson and at least one other outside linebacker of high caliber - could Ricky DeBerry of Richmond, Va., be that guy? He seemed really fired up about A&M after talking to Sumlin the other day, so maybe that's something the Aggies can capitalize on. It'll be tough, but A&M has pulled off tougher feats in the past couple of years.

Q: I haven't been able to find anything on the new 2014 commit/transfer Jackson in the Rivals database. Have you obtained any information on what his strengths were coming out of high school? (TaxMan90)

A: He was a safety at Houston Madison, but was hardly recruited and decided to go to Blinn to attract more attention. He was a full qualifier going in, so he could leave after a season and that's just what he's done. Blinn spun him down to linebacker and then defensive end, so he's very much a work in progress. He's got size and a good frame, but he's a year or two away at least. Right now, he's built a lot like Tyrone Taylor.

Q: Why is arguably our 3rd best corner (Ellis) only capable of playing nickel? Why not cross train and be the 3rd corner/nickel back? (Aggie_00)

A: After last year's disastrous attempt at cross-training guys, they're done with that. Period. They want a guy to get as good as possible at one position, and aren't going to screw around with trying to train him at multiple spots. If Ellis is the nickel, that's where he's staying.

Q: Can you give us a brief description of our remaining WR recruits (Lodge, Kirk, Johnson, Chigbu)? How's their size, speed, route-running, shiftiness? To what current or past receivers do they compare? Where would they play for A&M? (LoeDownDirty64)

A: Lodge is definitely an outside receiver. He's got good size, good speed and is very physical. Johnson, also, is a slam dunk outside receiver. He's very tall, chews up a lot of yardage with his long strides and can go up and get the football. Kirk is a guy who draws comparisons to Speedy Noil, so he could probably play inside or out. He's probably the most polished receiver in the entire class, and wouldn't have to make much of an adjustment. Chigbu I don't know a lot about, but I do know that he's another big guy with good speed. Landing a few of these guys would add tremendous weapons - all of them would be a haul unlike anyone has ever seen.

Q: Somewhere out there in JUCO-Land there has to be someone capable of starting at the LB position for us. Somewhere. Is there really nobody available or are we just not looking? I'm not talking a 3 year All American candidate, I'm talking someone who is big and fast and better than most of the LB's we have on campus so we don't have to start a fish that really should be redshirting. (h273)

A: The simple answer is no. If there was anyone that fits your description, they're already committed and signed to another school. You're not going to find someone a week into the summer session that's any good. The best you could hope for is a guy who's on campus in the spring of 2015.

Q: With the dismissal of probable starters for a number of violations (criminal and team), do you think a sufficient message of this will not be tolerated in our program has been sent? (Chuck70

A: I think Sumlin did what he had to do. Unfortunately, I think he's going to have to boot someone else for a far less serious offense to get everyone's attention.

Q: Who is your Mount Rushmore of college players (10) and coaches (5)?
(This is only about college. Not pro production.) (the p man)


A: I both love and hate this question. I'm typing this on a flight to Baltimore without wi-fi, so I'm going to have to go off the top of my head here. I'm sure that I'll forget some people and hate myself for it.

Players:
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (duh. Like I'm going to leave off the only Heisman winner I talk to)
Doak Walker, RB, SMU
Ron Dayne, RB, Wisconsin
Tommy Frazier, QB, Nebraska (two natty's, master of the option)
Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
Lee Roy Sermon, LB, Pitt
Archie Griffin, RB, Ohio State
Jim Brown, RB, Syracuse
Roger Staubach, QB, Navy
Sammy Baugh, QB/P, TCU

Coaches:
Paul "Bear" Bryant
Knute Rockne
Darrell K. Royal
Tom Osborne
Bobby Bowden

There, that list should have plenty of holes to punch through.

Q: will the dismissals of 2 starters generate a serious look from Mike Mitchell now? (AgsRule97!)

A: No.

Q: 1. Will the secondary be considerably better this year?
2. Will we have anything that resembles a pass rush? What does Hall weigh now?
3. Who starts at NT and DT now, and will we still give up 5 yards a rush?
4. Anything new on Malik Jefferson, and were do we stand with our #2 and #3 LB targets.
5. Have you ever pistol whipped anyone in a drug deal gone bad? (TGun97)


A: 1) Hopefully. They're certainly going to be more aggressive.
2) Again, hopefully. Let's see what Myles Garrett can do. Hall needs to bulk up more.
3) Alonzo Williams and Zaycoven Henderson, and geez, you're sweetness and light.
4) He wants to make an official to A&M. Richard Moore, option 2, appears to be on the verge of committing. Ricky DeBerry may have moved into the number 3 slot, and A&M's working on him.
5) No, but don't try to take my beer.


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