Each week, AggieYell.com's Jeff Tarpley and Mark Passwaters take reader questions and respond to them in the AggieYell Mailbag. Here's this week's sampling:
Q: Would spring 2013 Alonzo start in front of spring 2012 Nealy? (Ag4SEC)
A: No, but he would definitely be a player in the rotation. Nealy is smaller than Williams and isn't as strong, but he four years of playing experience to the position, where Williams has only played in a handful of games period. Nealy knew what his job was and did it very well; he also knew how to study film of his opponent and take advantage of weaknesses (see what he did to Alabama's Barrett Jones last year). In short, he exceeded everyone's expectations. Williams isn't there yet, but he'll give A&M a good combination up front with Kirby Ennis.
Q: Next year Big Ced will move to LT. Who do you expect to take the RT spot? Ifedi? Ish Wilson? JUCO? (jdbarfoot)
A: This may not be a popular answer, but I fully expect Joseph Cheek to take over at right tackle next year. He'll be a redshirt junior with two years of pretty decent playing experience at the position. Skinny when he arrived on campus, Cheek is now huge (6 feet, 7 inches tall and more then 300 pounds); his technique is better and he can stonewall most opposing defensive ends. He's not quick enough to protect a quarterback's blind side, but he's good enough to be a solid starter on the right.
Q: Excluding injuries to current players, how many true freshmen could conceivably be starters by the end of the season? (Ricky)
A: Not many, unless you count wide receivers who are part of a rotation. Someone like Jaquay Williams, Kyrion Parker or Ricky Seals-Jones could start at an outside position; Jeremy Tabuyo or Sebastian Larue have a shot at one of the two slot receiver jobs. Outside of that, the only real prospects, barring injury, would be Daeshon Hall at rush end and maybe Darian Claiborne at SAM linebacker. It's a pretty set starting group already.
Q: After Derueter's first year here, we were proclaiming him as the best DC we have had in years and were excited about the upcoming season with the potential to be great. We lost our consistent pass run in Von and some senior leadership from the 2010 class and the rest is history with Deroot. What is different about this year's DC/personell that makes you think we won't have the same large dropoff that we saw in 2011? (_TheDON_)
A: For one thing, the defense being played isn't nearly as complex as the one DeRuyter played and wouldn't deviate from. Mark Snyder puts together a system that, from what we've heard, is a lot easier to understand -- and the defense took to it pretty quickly last year. The loss of Damontre Moore is obviously a concern, but Snyder likes to blitz a lot anyway and that will probably be how A&M applies most of its pressure. Another plus with this outfit is A&M will have a better, more athletic safeties in 2013 than it did in 2011 -- and, if the corners can stay healthy, that will be another plus over the group from two years ago.
Q: Will Obioha be the next rush end backed up by the taylor bros, and does Stansbury take the starting strong side roll backed up by Points/Alexaner? (assuming we can redshirt daeshawn hall) With Golden backing up Ennis and Manning in the mix, and linebackers everywhere, do you feel as confident with the defensive front 7 as I do? (BrianScott01)
A: I'm increasingly thinking that this is what's going to happen. Obioha gives A&M its most complete option at rush end, if not it's most explosive pass rusher; Stansbury stepped up his play this spring and is big enough to hold up against the run. Points is another guy the staff likes, and his presence is really what allows this equation to work. If Golden and Manning come in ready to play, the Aggies will have two (three, adding Hardreck Walker) big boys to back up their starters. It will be a young group, but it'll have a ton of potential.
Q: Based on the spring practices and games, any indication that JFF changes his playing style this fall to prove to NFL scouts that he can make plays from the pocket? (dbpbatm)
A: No, and I wouldn't expect to, either. Johnny Manziel plays football the way Johnny Manziel plays football, and it's incredibly effective. He's not going to change it for anyone, and I really doubt he could if he wanted to. He's an instinctive player who has the ability to go into "freak mode", making plays with his arms, legs or both. If he tried to override that, he's not Johnny Football anymore; he's just an average quarterback.
Q: How did Justin Manning, Hardreck Walker and Daeshon Hall look at the Spring game?
A: I hit on this a little in Tidbits, but Manning and Walker both looked like they were ready to go. Daeshon Hall is really tall, but also really lean. His lack of bulk worried me and made me wonder if he needs a redshirt season after all.
Q: Now that spring ball is over, which of the freshman WRs see significant playing time early in the year? (TexAg06)
A: Still have to get them on campus, for the most part. But guys like Kyrion Parker and Sebastian Larue are most familiar with an offense like A&M's and will probably be the first ones to make an impact. It may be tougher for guys making an adjustment to wideout, like Laquvionte Gonzalez and Ricky Seals-Jones, but both are dynamic athletes that can cause major problems. As a result, they'll be getting a big-time crash course in how to play wide receiver.
Q: Are we slow playing everyone to buy time on further evaluation? (Hurting_10toes)
A: No. They were taking things a little slower because they were in the middle of spring practice; now that's over, as we've seen over the past few days, things are back in high gear. By and large, A&M knows who it wants and has no need for additional evaluation.
Q: Where does Mike Evans rank amoung receivers in the SEC? 1? Top 3? (Reveille5)
A: At this point, I really don't know. But how many 6 foot, 5 inch, 225 pound sophomore wideouts are there coming off a 1,000 yard season as a freshman? I can only think of one. And he's going to be even more dangerous this year.