Texas A&M Aggies: Rice Owls

Rice WR voices support for A&M CB

September, 2, 2013
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Texas A&M cornerback Deshazor Everett will miss the first half of the Aggies' upcoming game against Sam Houston State after being ejected from Saturday's 52-31 win over Rice because he was called for a targeting foul.

Everett, a junior cornerback, made contact with Rice receiver Klein Kubiak with 3:40 remaining in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game. But it appears that Kubiak, the recipient of Everett's hit, felt the contact was legal.

After the game, Kubiak posted a pair of tweets to his Twitter account indicating he disagreed with the officials' call on the field.

Later, he tweeted at Everett with a similar sentiment and even employed a hashtag, #FreeDeshazor, that has been circulated by Aggies' fans who disagreed with the call.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin challenged the call after the ruling was made, but lost the challenge upon further review by the officials.

"It's a learning experience," Sumlin said after the game. "I would imagine there were a few of those called [in college football] today. That's the enforcement of the new rule, that's what's going to happen. We have to adjust as coaches and players because that's the way it's going to be called. There's nothing you can do about it. Because it happened in the second half, the way I understand it, he's out the first half of next week."

When asked on whether he got an explanation of the call because video replay appeared to show that Everett did not strike Kubiak in the head or neck area, nor did he lead with the crown of his helmet, both aspects that by rule, would lead to a targeting call and potential ejection, Sumlin didn't elaborate much.

"I challenged the call," Sumlin said. "That's all I can say. I wouldn't have challenged it if there was a question."

Video: Texas A&M RB Ben Malena

August, 31, 2013
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ESPN.com reporter Sam Khan Jr. visits with Texas A&M senior running back Ben Malena, who rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown and caught an 18 yard touchdown pass that helped the Aggies pull away in their 52-31 win over Rice on Saturday at Kyle Field.


COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Plenty of excitement and drama at Kyle Field as Rice made the game interesting but Texas A&M eventually pulled away for a 52-31 win over the Owls behind a second-half offensive effort sparked by quarterback Johnny Manziel.

It was over when: Rice went scoreless on its first three drives of the third quarter. Texas A&M intercepted quarterback Taylor McHargue on consecutive drives to start the second half and turned those two picks into 10 points on offense, to turn a 10-point lead into a 38-21 advantage. The Owls responded to cut the lead back to 10 early in the fourth quarter, but Manziel led a six-play, 93-yard drive in 1:46 capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass to Ben Malena for a 45-21 lead and the Aggies never looked back.

Game ball goes to: Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans. Sure, it would be easy to give it to Manziel for sparking the second-half offensive effort, but Evans played a crucial role on the two touchdown drives that blew the game open for the Aggies. He caught the 23-yard touchdown pass from Manziel to give the Aggies a 38-21 lead at the 9:43 mark in the third quarter. Later, on an early fourth-quarter touchdown drive that extended the lead to 45-28, Evans threw a big block for Malcome Kennedy on a 34-yard reception that got the Aggies in the red zone, then had a quality downfield block that sprung Malena for the 18-yard touchdown reception.

Stat of the game: 509 total offensive yards for Rice. The Aggies' defense had a few question marks coming into the season and didn't help matters by some self-inflicted issues, with six key players, including five starters, missing all or part of the game due to suspensions. That meant a lot of freshmen and newcomers on the field and it showed as Rice moved the ball well early and ran the ball with consistency. Once the Aggies get some of their key players back it will be interesting to see how things play out, but an effort like the one seen on Saturday won't bode well for Texas A&M once it gets to SEC play.

Greetings from Kyle Field

August, 31, 2013
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- After what has been an eventful offseason, game day is finally here for Texas A&M.

The No. 7 Aggies host Conference USA foe Rice at 1 p.m. ET today, giving their fans a taste of real football after an offseason that involved a lot of headlines.

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel will miss the first two quarters, serving a suspension announced Wednesday by Texas A&M and the NCAA after the investigation into allegations that he profited from autographs concluded.

The big question is, who's starting? The answer hasn't officially been made public at this point -- head coach Kevin Sumlin did say that both junior Matt Joeckel and true freshman Kenny Hill will play in the game.

The speculation seems to be that Joeckel will get the nod in the game's first series, though. Former Aggies defensive tackle Spencer Nealy posted a congratulatory message to Joeckel on his Twitter account on Friday night, tweeting:



The Aggies will be shorthanded on defense, with several players serving out suspensions stemming from offseason incidents. Starting defensive tackle Kirby Ennis and safety Floyd Raven, who is listed second on the depth chart at free safety, will miss the entire game. Junior cornerback Deshazor Everett, a starter best known for his interception that sealed A&M's upset victory at Alabama this year, will miss one half of action.

True freshman defensive tackle Hardreck Walker is the likely replacement for Ennis when the Aggies are in four defensive lineman alignments. Junior Clay Honeycutt is the starter at free safety after having a strong preseason training camp and look for a combination of Tramain Jacobs and Alex Sezer, Jr., to fill in for Everett when he's sitting.

Rice comes in with a veteran group, led by a fifth-year senior at quarterback in Taylor McHargue. This will be his fourth-straight opening game start; he is one of seven current FBS quarterbacks to have that distinction. The Owls will also be without a pair of defensive starters, linebacker Cameron Nwosu (injury) and cornerback Phillip Gaines.

Five storylines: Texas A&M vs. Rice

August, 28, 2013
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M held its regularly scheduled weekly news conference on Tuesday in advance of its season opener against Rice on Saturday. While many wonder about the status of quarterback Johnny Manziel, there are other things to keep an eye on. Here are five storylines facing the Aggies as they await the Owls at Kyle Field:

1. Will Manziel play?

That's what Texas A&M fans and much of the college football wants to know: will Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel start on Saturday for Texas A&M? The question remains unanswered officially. Athletic director Eric Hyman released a statement on Monday evening indicated that he instructed the coaching staff and players to not comment on Manziel's status. When Kevin Sumlin was asked about it on Tuesday he said "We're not discussing that....I can't talk about how that decision is going to be made and what goes into that decision. I said from day one, the first day [of training camp], that there will be a lot of people involved in that decision. So what goes into how that decision's made, obviously I can't discuss." So for now, the wait continues.

[+] EnlargeMatt Joeckel
Icon SMIIf defending Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is held out Saturday against Rice, it could be up to junior Matt Joeckel to lead the Aggies.

2. What if Manziel doesn't play?

At this point, the Aggies turn to either junior Matt Joeckel or true freshman Kenny Hill. Both received praise from coaches and teammates alike on Tuesday. Senior running back Ben Malena said he believes the team will be comfortable with whoever is taking snaps on Saturday. Offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney said offensively, the Aggies would still remain the same. Joeckel brings the presence of a pocket passer who has already spent a year learning the offense while Hill is a dual threat who can run and throw and has had to learn the offense quickly. But on Tuesday, the Aggies appeared confident in both of them should either be pressed into duty.

3. New faces

Sumlin advised fans attending Saturday's game to "buy a program or bring a flip card," because of how many newcomers will see time on the field. Of the 31 players who signed with the Aggies in February, Sumlin said he expects at least 10 to play a role this season, and perhaps as many as 15. Some of the notable newcomers to look for on Saturday include freshmen receivers Ricky Seals-Jones and LaQuvionte Gonzalez, tight end Cameron Clear, who was a juco transfer, linebacker Tommy Sanders -- also a juco transfer -- and true freshman linebacker Shaan Washington. Look for even more newcomers to get looks on special teams, including some of the aforementioned names.

4. Missing personnel

There are suspensions facing three defensive players: senior defensive tackle Kirby Ennis, junior cornerback Deshazor Everett and junior safety Floyd Raven, all three of whom had off-the-field legal trouble this offseason. Ennis and Raven will miss the entire game; Everett will miss a half. Ennis is a starter, so that means you could see a true freshman -- either Isaiah Golden or Hardreck Walker -- in his place when the Aggies go to four defensive linemen. In place of Everett, also a starter, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said that the Aggies will rotate cornerbacks. Expect to see a heavy dose of Tramain Jacobs but possibly some freshmen such as Alex Sezer, Victor Davis or Tavares Garner as possibilities.Raven isn't listed as the starter at free safety like he was coming out of spring football. Instead, it's junior Clay Honeycutt, who Snyder was complimentary of on Tuesday. Honeycutt, a former high school quarterback at Dickinson (Texas) High, has come a long way according to Snyder and has earned himself the start against Rice.

Also of note, running back Brandon Williams [foot surgery] might be limited. Offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney said "I wouldn't expect to see a lot from Brandon on Saturday."

5. Familiar foes

The Aggies and Owls haven't met on the field since the Southwest Conference folded in 1995, as both teams were part of the now-defunct league, but the coaching staffs do have recent history. David Bailiff is in his seventh season at Rice, a rival of Houston, where Sumlin was the head coach for four seasons (2008-2011). Snyder also stood on a sideline opposite Bailiff when Snyder was the head coach at Marshall from 2005-09. Sumlin's staff also recruited Rice starting quarterback Taylor McHargue when Sumlin was with the Cougars. So there is plenty of familiarity, at least in terms of coaching staffs, between the two squads.

Each week this spring, GigEmNation reporter Sam Khan Jr. will bring you notes/nuggets from watching and visiting with high school football prospects in the Greater Houston area that week. He will include observations of Texas A&M commitments and targets and other players who catch his attention. Here's this week's installment:

HOUSTON -- Summer camp season is officially underway for colleges as the spring evaluation period has come to a close. In Houston, plenty of players have flocked to camps to show off their talents.


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Prospects use Twitter in a multitude of ways when it comes to recruiting, including announcing their commitment or their lists of top schools.


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With summer drawing closer, Texas high school football teams are transitioning from spring football to 7-on-7 competition and there were a handful of teams in attendance at the inaugural Crosby Cougar 7-on-7 tournament in Crosby, Texas, on Saturday.

Among them was a talented private school squad, Houston Kinkaid, which appears to have major Division I prospects in the 2014 class and beyond.


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Brenham (Texas) High School doesn't conduct a traditional spring football practice, but like many of their fellow Lone Star State schools, the Cubs still make sure to get plenty of offseason work in.

That has helped players such as 2014 offensive tackle Austin Schlottmann, who has seen several college coaches walk through the doors of Brenham since the evaluation period began last month.


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Each week this spring, GigEmNation reporter Sam Khan Jr. will bring you notes and nuggets from watching and visiting with high school football prospects in the Greater Houston area that week, including observations of Texas A&M commitments and targets and other players that catch his attention. Here's this week's installment:

MANVEL, Texas -- Plenty of colleges have their eyes affixed on Manvel (Texas) High School because of 2014 prospect Koda Martin, who we profiled in-depth last week, but there are plenty more reasons for coaches to keep stopping by the school just south of Houston.

[+] EnlargeKemah Siverand
Sam Khan Jr./ESPNTexas and Texas A&M are stopping by soon to check out Class of 2015 wideout Kemah Siverand.
The 2013 class was loaded with the likes of receivers Austin Bennett (Oklahoma), Kyrion Parker (Texas A&M) and Carlos Thompson (Texas Tech), cornerback Tavares Garner (Texas A&M), defensive tackle Dewan Edmonson (UTEP), quarterback Shane McCarley (Old Dominon) and center Travis Romero (Southeastern Louisiana). Martin headlines a 2014 class that also includes a large defensive tackle, 6-foot-6, 280-pound Justin Gardner.

Last season was Gardner's first on varsity and he's getting interest from Houston, Maryland and Texas Tech. His size and athleticism will get him looks and Manvel coach Kirk Martin is looking for a big senior season from Gardner.

There are prospects in the 2015 class as well but the class to watch at Manvel is the 2016 group, where two potential stars are: safety Deontay Anderson and receiver Reggie Hemphill.

Hemphill received playing time on varsity last season alongside Bennett, Parker and Thompson. The 6-2, 170-pounder was a big-play threat, averaging 40 yards per reception (10 catches, 400 yards) and hauling in six touchdowns, including an 80-yarder. Anderson is 6-1, 180 and racked up 55 tackles last season but he also has the ability to line up at receiver and be a weapon there for the Mavericks. Both are going to hit the camp circuit this summer in an effort to impress college coaches. Both are fast, athletic talents with good size who should be stars at Manvel and likely big-time prospects down the road.

As for Koda Martin, he looks the part of a tight end at 6-6, 247. He has enough strength for the defensive side of the ball, which some schools are recruiting him to play. Should he end up at offensive tackle, the position Texas A&M sees him playing, he'll have to grow into the position, weight-wise. But considering his instincts and intelligence, plus his experience as a blocker when he plays tight end, that adjustment should be smooth should he have to make it.

Several to watch at Houston Cypress Ridge
In an effort to simulate the fall and get some quality work in, Houston Cypress Ridge is scrimmaging under the Friday Night Lights during spring practice. The Rams got after it this past Friday and several players showed why they are on the college football radar.

Class of 2014 offensive guard Willie Wright is a quality player on the Rams' offensive line, lining up at tackle. Wright looked solid on Friday and already has an offer from Houston, with UTSA also showing interest.

Class of 2015 receiver Kemah Siverand is already on schools' radars. He has a good mix of size (6-foot, 178) and speed (4.56-second 40-yard dash) and he's still learning the receiver position. Texas and Texas A&M are expected to stop by Cy Ridge in the next two weeks to see Siverand and he has visited both.


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March has been a busy month for Spring (Texas) High School quarterback Darius Lee-Campbell.

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound signal-caller has taken in a pair of junior days so far and will head to another this weekend.

So far, the recruiting process has been good for Lee-Campbell, who wasn't sure if he'd be recruited as a quarterback yet but fully intends to be one at the college level.


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BRENHAM, Texas -- The spring is always an important time for recruits.

When college coaches are allowed to be out at high schools evaluating prospects in late April and May, it can lead to opportunities and scholarship offers for recruits.


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One Texas quarterback who has seen his interest from colleges rise in the last month is San Antonio East Central's Jeremy Jones.

The 2014 signal-caller is still seeking his first offer, but has taken in a couple of junior days and plans to hit more schools in the coming weeks and months.

On Saturday, he took in College Station, Texas, for Texas A&M's second junior day of the year.


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