Here's this week's edition of the AggieYell Mailbag:
Q: Any word yet on the transfer status on Jameill Showers or Bralon Addison yet? Would the Aggies still be interested in Addison or has that ship sailed? (Scotti)
A: Showers has signed with UTEP and he will probably start there right off the bat (which means he'll face A&M on Nov. 2 at Kyle Field). He'll have two years to play, as he's graduating early. As for Addison, that rumor appeared late last season and there hasn't been anything to substantiate it. With A&M already taking 6 receivers in the 2013 class, Jamal Jeffery signed and other receivers seriously interested, there's no real reason for A&M to waste a scholarship on a player who won't play for a year anyway. Also, keep in mind how Addison's recruitment ended, with his decision to switch to Oregon the night before. That hasn't been forgotten.
Q: It seems to me that the A&M offense could be dominating in the coming season. However, the opposite could be true of the defense as there were numerous front 7 departures from the 2012 team and few if any proven replacements. How can A & M be so highly rated in the few 2013 preseason polls that are now out with so many question marks about the defense? (JMurchison)
A: There are a few reasons, not the least of which is that a lot of the people putting those polls together don't really know how to read a depth chart. Having said that, however, there's ample reasons to justify A&M's high ranking: the rock in the center of the Aggie defense, Kirby Ennis, returns (once he's un-suspended, that is); Ivan Robinson or Alonzo Williams will play next to him and should be capable of holding their own -- and then you have the three stud defensive tackles behind them. Julien Obioha should be back from his injury and if he makes the expected progression from his freshman to sophomore year, should be quite good. At linebacker, you have to solid players you know about in Donnie Baggs and Steven Jenkins starting, and there are high hopes for Tommy Sanders too. Deshazor Everett and Toney Hurd are established at corner and nickel, and Howard Matthews closed his sophomore season with a flourish. A&M will have options at the other corner and safety spot, leaving the only real question at rush end. If Brandon Alexandor, Tyrone Taylor or even Daeshon Hall proves to be able to handle that position at the same level Obioha handled the other side last year, A&M will be solid -- at the least -- defensively.
And yes, on offense, they will be REALLY good.
Q: What are some ways that our offense might evolve in year 2? More pistol, taller receivers open up the crossing routes that Johnny seems be unable to see, power blocking with Clear? (CRF250)
A: You probably have already seen the evolution of the offense begin with the Cotton Bowl. There were more medium to deep crossing routes, 15-18 yard outs to the sideline and other wrinkles, including running counter gap with Manziel -- something not usually (if ever) done with a quarterback before. With the depth A&M has at running back this year, the Aggies have the ability to really grind on teams should they so desire. Early in the year, it wouldn't be a shock if A&M uses a little more run, a little less designed running by Manziel and some shorter passes to get the new wideouts oriented and comfortable. From there, as the comfort level rises, there's not going to be much this offense can't do.
Q: What caused the Alaka offer explosion? (Walter Peck)
A: The simple answer is, he's really good. More in-depth, you've got a kid who is already 6 feet, 3 inches tall and has the frame to grow from his current 210 lbs. to 235 without much trouble. He's really long, is a solid tackler who gets off block and is extremely smart. He's a guy who can provide leadership and production in the middle, and that's really appealing.
Q: Thomas Johnson. Any update on him, any plans on his returning? (h273)
A: No and no. He's not on campus, which obviously means no spring practice. There are no signs he'll be back in the fall either. It's about time to chalk his career at A&M up to complete and simply hope the best for his future as a person.
Q: It didn't really seem like the other SEC schools were hitting Texas any harder than usual in last year's recruiting class but it seems as if a full-on invasion has occurred this year. The talent haul doesn't appear to be that much better, so what's going on? A full year of exposure in Texas for these programs or just slow to move? (LifeinHarleton)
A: I've considered the "you're letting the SEC in!" crap to be as stupid as "the small slice of East Texas" downplay of A&M's move to the SEC -- you can't have it both ways. And, really, this isn't anything new: schools that have a national recruiting base, like Alabama, are going to take their shots -- A&M has competed with them for a number of players in the past several years (and mostly Bama has won, though that's changing); LSU will always recruit Texas, and their shutout last year was a very rare occurrence. Ole Miss is going to offer everyone in Western Civilization, and maybe a few beyond that -- that's how Hugh Freeze rolls. It's a great year in Texas for defense, which is what A&M is primarily after for 2014 -- and that's what other SEC schools are after too. Net result: A&M's butting heads with conference foes, as well as the usual suspects. It's more cyclical than anything. If Georgia and South Carolina come over and set up shop in Texas, that may cause a reassessment.
Q: How do we stand with the top safeies in the state? (Akinr)
A: One of them, Nick Harvey, is under wraps. Edwin Freeman from Arlington Bowie isn't talking, so it's tough to say with him. Dylan Sumner-Gardner was really wowed by A&M and the Aggies feel pretty good with him, even as his offer list grows at a phenomenal rate. They're also serious contenders for Hebron's Jamal Adams.
Q: Can a&m actually be better? We have momentum, confidence, JFF, and Summlin. But we lose Swope, Luke, EZ, center on offense. Our whole D-line could be gone (graduation, nfl departure, injury, gun play). 2/3 lb'ers gone. Dustin gone, fielding punts an adventure again? Our seniors played big last year, we dodged the injury bug, divine intervention at La Tech & Ole Miss, Auburn & Arkansas sucked. It was magical, we are back. But can we really be better? (Renz_man)
A: Yes, they can. For one, you're not going to lose your entire defensive front. In fact, A&M could be able to go six deep at defensive tackle, a far cry from the three guys they used most of last year. The senior factor may hurt at wideout, but you'll probably be deeper there as well. At running back, you're certainly deeper, and there are options at corner. Baggs is a known quantity and Jenkins should be better this year. Matthews should be as well. Do you have gaps? Yes, and there needs to be more depth. Injuries are always a concern. But here's the bottom line: Manziel will be a year older and wiser, and he'll have (potentially) more weapons at his disposal. That's a scary proposition.
Q: Which freshmen are most likely to play next year? Who do you see redshirting? (Roy Munson Jr.)
A: I can see, in some form or fashion, all six new wideouts (Ricky Seals-Jones, JaQuay Williams, Kyrion Parker, Jeremy Tabuyo, Sebastian Larue and Laquvionte Gonzalez) playing this year. Of that bunch, it's most likely Quiv would redshirt, as he may need the time to acclimate himself to playing wideout and get a little bigger. James White is a near certain redshirt -- no need to waste a year unless there's multiple injuries. Both Kohl Stewart and Kenny Hill should redshirt. Jeremiah Stuckey will play; Ishmael Wilson and Joas Aguilar, probably not.
On defense, the big three at DT (Isaiah Golden, Justin Manning and Hardreck Walker) could all play. Jay Arnold will probably need a redshirt season. Jordan Points is already showing himself to be an animal in workouts, so he may be physically capable of stealing snaps as a freshman -- we'll see more this spring. Daeshon Hall? That depends on Alexander and Tyrone Taylor. Brett Wade and Darian Claiborne will play; so will either Reggie Chevis or Jordan Mastrogiovanni (maybe both). Noel Ellis and Tavares Garner will probably play, but Alex Sezer could use a season to learn to play corner (but may be used anyway, on special teams). Victor Davis? Let's see where they play him. At safety, Kameron Miles is a good bet to be in the two-deep; Shaan Washington and Jonathan Wiggins, we'll have to wait and see.
Q: It really was a fast start to recruiting after the addtion of Cedric Collins. Where has the momentum gone, Is the lack of committments a sign of the staff not putting enough effort or do you see more kids taking their time this year in relation to years past?
A: A&M already has seven commits in what will likely be a pretty small class -- that's momentum, period. The coaches are putting in more than enough effort; Auburn has zero commits, Alabama one, Arkansas three, Ole Miss five, Mississippi State one and Florida six, so the idea the coaches are getting beat or recruiting's in the dumps because Texas got a couple of players is ridiculous. Last year, A&M got a couple commits early, four on or right after junior day -- and then one in March, one in April and one in May. The vast majority of players committed during the summer, and there's no reason for that to change this year. Compared to last year, which still filled up very fast, the Aggies are ahead of schedule -- that's a sign of how well they've done out of the blocks.