Denton Ryan had what many would consider to be a very successful season a year ago. The Raiders reached the Class 4A Division I regional finals, two rounds short of the state title game. Along the way, the offense rolled up huge numbers as quarterback Scotty Young threw 65 touchdown passes, the second-highest total in Texas high school history.
However, none of that was good enough for Ryan offensive tackle and Texas A&M commit Garrett Gramling. Though he was happy to be part of such a historical season for his offense, he says he would trade it all for a championship.
"Our team goal is to win state," said the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Gramling. "There really hasn't been talk of anything else. We're just going to do whatever it takes to win. Records are great and all that, but they really don't mean anything if you're not playing in December."
Though the Raiders return Gramling, Young and wide receiver Bud Sasser as Division I prospects, they could be facing an uphill battle in their quest for a title as not many other starters are back from a year ago, especially on the offensive line.
"No, we really don't have that many starters returning," Gramling said. "I'm the only starter coming back on the offensive line. We only have one other varsity player on the offensive line, but he was a backup last year. We also lost a couple receivers like (Kansas signee) D.J. Beshears. We're still confident in what we can do, though.
"There is a certain bit of pressure on me as the only returner on the line. People look at me as the leader, but that's something I've definitely embraced. There are some underclassmen that are still learning, but they're making big strides. I think [having a leadership role] is something I would have had no matter what. We're a little more undersized this year, so we just have to have good technique."
The Raiders kick off the regular season with a home game against Mesquite Poteet this Friday, but they have two scrimmages under their belt already.
"We start school Tuesday, but we've been practicing for a while now," Gramling said. "We've already had a couple scrimmages and everything. Things have been going pretty well. The team's starting to look good.
"We scrimmaged Grapevine and then Lewisville. We won them both. The starters didn't get to play all that much in either one of them, though. We'll get to see a lot more in our first game on Friday."
Gramling is one of 20 current Aggie commitments for the class of 2010. Five of those commitments are offensive linemen, a group that many are calling one of the best that A&M has ever signed. Gramling has not had a chance as of late to talk to the coaches or other recruits, but he is excited to be part of the class.
"I haven't had a chance to talk to them in a little while," he said of the A&M coaches. "I've been busy with practice and they've been busy with the same thing. I really haven't had a chance to talk to any of the other commits lately either. I've really just put all my attention into my team. I did see that we picked up Jake Matthews, so that was exciting to hear."