As school resumed this week, Texas A&M students flooded the grounds of the university and poured into the classrooms with a unique and vivid aura found only in Aggieland. The campus came even more alive with enthusiasm as students eagerly discussed the season opening A&M football game against Arkansas State with kickoff set for Saturday at 6 p.m. Some students were motivated to be on campus as early as Sunday evening in order to camp out so they could be first in line for game day tickets Monday morning.
It's not doubt Aggie students are passionate about their football. The 12th Man is known far and wide as one of the top student sections to ever grace the college football landscape. Every year when school starts, a spirit is cultivated around A&M football that students profess takes place nowhere like it does in Aggieland. This season the excitement is expounded by a new regime led by new head coach Mike Sherman.
"Everyone is excited. I just came from the MSC and people are stopping me asking about coach and how camp went. I feel they're real excited about it," said A&M running back Mike Goodson. "Most people just want to know what he's like, is he mean or is he strict. I just say that he's a stand-up guy with respect for me and respect for everybody else."
Students have yet to see Sherman in action at A&M, but vast amounts already say they support and are impressed with the new coach, but the initial reactions around campus show respect for Sherman mainly because of the frankness and inspiration he shows in open practices and press conferences.
The sentiments are shared by students throughout the 54-acre Aggie campus.
Sophomore Kathryn Cox talks with good friend Ryan Steinbrunner, a freshman linebacker from San Angelo, and said she notices the impact Sherman has on him. Cox shares her admiration towards Sherman for the passion behind his speeches and how it seems he is able to bring out the heart in the players.
Senior Emily Lowe says she feels more a part of the Aggie team this year with the way Sherman has included the student body. The way Sherman handled the Maroon & White game in April, allowing students to compete to earn spots as guest coaches, earned the student body's respect in a huge way.
Sophomore Taylor Purswell said it showed how much Sherman cared about the fans when he took time in the spring to meet the student body and answer questions.
"He knows how to get the students involved and make us feel like we are inspiration and hope to the players as we cheer and support at games," Purswell said.
Students have also showed their interest not only in Sherman's motivation, but also the pro-style offense he brings from the NFL. Without seeing a game, students are trying to get any information that can get their hands on and have heard about different adjustments and players moving to different positions on the field to utilize their talents better.
For instance, the move of backup quarterbacks Jerrod Johnson and Ryan Tannehill to the receiving corps has sparked a ton of talk among students before classes.
"The Aggies could benefit from using Ryan and Jerrod because they are so athletic, especially Jerrod using his height to a major advantage," said senior Mabrie Hermann. "Sherman is doing good with utilizing their talent and versatility."
Jorvorskie Lane's move to fullback from running back has also sparked a ton of conversation in Aggieland. It's a decision that senior Colby May said he is happy Sherman made.
"It was a good choice," May said. "This position is better for Jorvorskie to show his talent and potential to go pro."
As with just about an Aggie fan, students are plain giddy when thinking about the potential Lane has in the same backfield with Goodson. Rarely did the "thunder and lightning" combination see the field at the same time over the past two seasons. Now, it seems like a certainty to see the two side-by-side.
"Jorvorskie and Goodson have been playing together for several years now so they have good chemistry and can work good together," said junior Steven Skaia.
Students are excited about a renewed interest in the passing game with talented young receivers like Jeff Fuller in the mix, and they're hoping for a return of the Wrecking Crew under new defensive coordinator Joe Kines whose YouTube videos have already become dorm room must-sees.
One thing is for certain, however. Aggies across campus are extremely excited for the start of the 2008 season and should be out in full force Saturday at Kyle Field to see a new era begin in Aggieland.