Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 13, 2014
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As the last weekend before the dead period comes to an end, there is still plenty of recruiting news throughout the Southeastern Conference. Vanderbilt suffered through a difficult weekend, there were a few important commitments and some key prospects backed off their pledges. Here’s a closer look at the top recruiting news around the SEC:


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Bold predictions: New ESPN 300

January, 10, 2014
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With the major national all-star games in the book, RecruitingNation has released its final ESPN 300 player rankings for the Class of 2014. The new rankings feature quite a few players who improved their stocks after performances against some of the best talent in the country. Here are seven bold predictions for what we'll see from players who moved up the charts.

A&M's class will make biggest instant impact


More people need to be talking about the job Kevin Sumlin has done with his 2014 recruiting class. Even though the Aggies have the No. 2 class in the nation, most of the focus has been on Alabama, Tennessee, LSU and Florida State. But no class will make as big of an impact this fall as the group heading to College Station. With the new rankings, the Aggies now have two top-10 players -- defensive end Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/Martin) at No. 4 and athlete Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) at No. 7 -- and both will be breakout stars as true freshmen. But they won't be the only ones. This class is littered with playmakers who will make their marks on the SEC next season. ESPN 300 prospects like defensive back Nick Harvey (Richmond, Texas/Travis), linebacker Hoza Scott (La Porte, Texas/La Porte), defensive tackle DeShawn Washington (Nederland, Texas/Nederland) and defensive end Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) should all contribute quickly to a defense that needs all the help it can get.


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Texas A&M WR LaRue to transfer

January, 10, 2014
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Texas A&M freshman receiver Sebastian LaRue asked for his release and will transfer out of the program, the receiver confirmed to ESPN.com.

LaRue, who redshirted during the Aggies' 2013 season, was an ESPN 300 recruit who was a part of Texas A&M's eighth-ranked 2013 recruiting class. He was one of six receivers the Aggies signed in the 2013 class and he was rated the second-highest in the 2013 crop.

The Santa Monica (Calif.) High School graduate indicated in a text message that he plans to transfer to a school closer to home, though he's not sure where he'll land just yet.

"I just need to be closer to my family," LaRue said.

The story was first reported by GigEm247.com.

Coming out of high school, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound LaRue was an Under Armour All-American and a four-star recruit, ranked as the No. 74 overall player in the nation. He was the ninth-ranked receiver in the country and was known for his speed and playmaking ability, both as a receiver and as a return specialist.

LaRue was recruited by former Texas A&M secondary coach Marcel Yates, who recently left the Aggies to become the defensive coordinator at Boise State.

During his recruiting process, LaRue was originally committed to USC before decommitting roughly a month before national signing day. Washington State was also one of LaRue's finalists before he chose the Aggies.

Top 10 questions for 2014 season 

January, 10, 2014
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Charlie StrongErich Schlegel/Getty ImagesHow many games will Charlie Strong win with the Longhorns in 2014?
The 2013 season brought us coaching changes at flagship schools, including Texas and USC, and, following Florida State’s nail-biting win over Auburn in the BCS title game, a national champion outside of the SEC for the first time in eight years.

What’s in store for 2014? Here are the top 10 questions for the year ahead.

1. How many games will Charlie Strong win in his Texas debut?

Those doing the hiring were wowed by the idea of Strong instilling toughness and creating more of a concrete identity; both were hits on the Longhorns program in Mack Brown’s final seasons.

But those are not overnight fixes, and expectations will not exactly be through the roof in Strong’s first season.

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SEC's lunch links

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
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Two handy reminders: College football underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to declare for the NFL draft, which will be May 8 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
Let's take a look at the best and worst from the SEC during this year's bowl season:

Best game: This had to be Texas A&M's 52-48 comeback win over Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Right when we thought Johnny Manziel was going out on a low note, he put his team on his shoulders to erase a 21-point deficit. He struggled to get on the same page with his receivers early but finished in style with 455 total yards and five touchdowns. The Aggies outscored Duke 35-10 in the second half.

Worst BCS bowl team without a national title at stake: Alabama has been money under Nick Saban in BCS National Championship games. But the Crimson Tide have laid a pair of eggs now in the Sugar Bowl, the latest coming in an ugly 45-31 loss to Oklahoma last week that saw Alabama turn it over five times and give up 429 yards of total offense. It was reminiscent of Alabama’s 31-17 loss to Utah in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsJohnny Manziel put on quite a show in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in what turned out to be his final game.
Worst tackle: Though Auburn's defense played very well for the better part of the Tigers' heartbreaking 34-31 loss to Florida State in the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game, the dagger came on a fumbled defensive effort. Chris Davis and Ryan Smith cost Auburn a big play on the Seminoles' game-winning scoring drive when they both attempted to tackle Rashad Greene after a first-down catch just to the right of the middle of the field. They hit each other more than Greene, who then sprinted down the right sideline for a 49-yard gain to help set up the final score.

Best catch: Not only was Bruce Ellington’s bobbling, one-handed catch in South Carolina’s 34-24 win over Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl a gem, but it also changed the complexion of the game. The 22-yard gain came on fourth-and-7 and set up a 22-yard touchdown catch by Ellington late in the third quarter that put the Gamecocks ahead for good.

Best quote: “I was in a zone I haven’t been in before -- ever. I just wanted this game.” -- Manziel

Best grind-out performance: LSU running back Jeremy Hill, who helped keep LSU out of the upset column against Iowa with his 28 carries for 216 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead 37-yarder with two minutes remaining.

Best multi-purpose performance: About the only thing Connor Shaw didn’t do in his farewell performance for the Gamecocks was intercept a pass. He passed for three touchdowns, ran for a touchdown and also caught a touchdown pass.

Worst defensive breakdown: Big pass plays haunted Georgia’s defense this season, and the 99-yard touchdown pass the Bulldogs gave up in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl was perhaps the worst of the bunch. Nebraska was facing third-and-14 from its own 1 in the fourth quarter when Quincy Enunwa took advantage of a bust in the Georgia secondary and streaked 99 yards to give the Huskers a 24-12 lead. Nebraska finished with just 307 yards of total offense, and 99 came on that one play.

Worst timing: Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch has always been rock solid for the Bulldogs, but his crucial drop on a fourth-and-3 at Nebraska's 16-yard line with less than 30 seconds remaining ended any chance of a Georgia comeback. Lynch would have given the Dawgs a first down inside the 10.

Best individual performance: Manziel delivered a performance for the ages (and a performance that turned out to be his final one at the collegiate level) in rallying the Aggies from a 21-point deficit to beat Duke 52-48 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Manziel was 30-of-38 passing for 382 yards and four touchdowns, and he also rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown.

Best team performance: How about those Mississippi State Bulldogs? Left for dead in late November, the Bulldogs won two straight in overtime to make a bowl game. After getting bumped up to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Mississippi State crushed a Rice team that entered the game winners of nine of their last 10 with a 44-7 showing. Quarterback Dak Prescott had arguably his best game, throwing for 283 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 78 yards and two more scores. The defense also allowed a season-low 145 yards.
The moment Auburn's attempt at a Hollywood finish fell short at the VIZIO BCS National Championship after a series of laterals failed to produce one last miracle, the SEC's reign of BCS terror was over. The Tigers, who played this season's Cinderella, couldn't bring home the conference's eighth straight BCS title after a valiant comeback by No. 1 Florida State inside the Rose Bowl.

[+] EnlargeAuburn Dejected
Harry How/Getty ImagesThe bowl season did not end how Auburn and the SEC hoped.
The Seminoles' 34-31 thriller out West made for a fantastic finish for the BCS era, but it left a bitter taste in the mouth of the SEC and its rabid fan base. Despite earning the best conference bowl win percentage with a 7-3 record (.700) in the postseason, the SEC wanted the big one. And it fell short for the first time since failing to make the BCS title game in 2005. In fact, this was the first time ever that the SEC lost in the BCS title game when it wasn't playing itself.

While SEC commissioner Mike Slive was right when he said that the SEC's incredible national championship run would never be duplicated (seven in a row, really?), you can't help but wonder how much it hurt him to see his beloved conference not bring home one last crystal football.

If only Auburn's Tre Mason had come up short on that 37-yard touchdown run with 1 minute, 19 seconds left. Oh, what could have been different if he had downed the ball at the 1- or 2-yard line …

Before the Tigers' loss, the SEC lost its other BCS matchup when Alabama was knocked off 45-31 by Oklahoma in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The national championship stung for the SEC, but this one hurt. This was viewed as certified gimmie for the league, after a historic line was put Alabama's way. But after a quick score by the Crimson Tide that appeared to set the tone, the Sooners punched and kicked their way to a more physical showing, beating Alabama at its own game.

Big Game Bob Stoops talked about SEC propaganda and backed his mouth up with a strong effort that had anti-SEC fans giddy on and off of Bourbon Street.

Still, the SEC finished with its third consecutive winning bowl season. The last time the league had a losing record in bowl play was when it went 3-4 in 2002. While the result of the BCS bowls weren't to the SEC's liking, seven other ones made the conference shine brightly.

It started with Ole Miss beating Georgia Tech 25-17 in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Dec. 30. After back-to-back losses to end the regular season, the Rebels pounced on the Yellow Jackets, holding them to their second-lowest rushing output (151 yards) of the season. Not to be outdone, Mississippi State capped off an impressive 2013 finish with a 44-7 beatdown of Rice in the Liberty Bowl.

The most exciting bowl game came later that night when Johnny Manziel said goodbye to college football by helping to erase a 21-point deficit in Texas A&M's 52-48 win over Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

The SEC flexed its muscles on New Year's Day when South Carolina downed Wisconsin by 10 in the Capital One Bowl and LSU ground out a 21-14 win over Iowa in the Outback Bowl. The day was nearly a sweep, but Georgia's 24-19 loss to Nebraska (equipped with a 99-yard touchdown pass allowed in the third quarter) destroyed the shot at perfection.

The SEC rounded out its non-BCS bowls with an exciting 41-31 win by Missouri over old Big 12 foe Oklahoma State in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, while Vanderbilt made short work of Houston with a 41-24 victory in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

The wins clearly outnumbered the losses for the SEC, but when it came down to the two big ones, the conference fell short. For all the good that this league produced during bowl season, the BCS losses will be the ones everyone remembers.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Round one of the new Charlie Strong-Kevin Sumlin recruiting rivalry goes to Texas A&M, as the Aggies were able to flip Zaycoven Henderson in what will go down as one of the wildest recruiting stories of the season; Bobby Petrino's hiring at Louisville received mixed reviews from coaches and recruits; and what type of recruiter is Michigan getting with new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier?

Aggies win first battle against Strong
College football’s second season is known for plenty of twists and turns, but few will match the bumpy ride that four-star defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) gave Texas and Texas A&M fans Wednesday. Henderson, the No. 36 defensive tackle, decommitted from Texas, then recommitted to the Longhorns, only to flip to Texas A&M in less than a 24-hour span. Henderson’s decision came in the wake of coaching changes at Texas and the Horns chances slipped majorly when defensive line coach Bo Davis accepted a position at USC. It also marks the first victory for A&M coach Kevin Sumlin over new Texas coach Charlie Strong. Henderson is an early enrollee that was scheduled to start classes in Austin next Monday, but now he’ll be attending classes in College Station. Henderson originally committed to TCU last February but decommitted in September. On Dec. 9, Henderson gave Texas his verbal pledge during a ceremony at his school.

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A day after its quarterback declared for the NFL draft, Texas A&M got some good news about another potential draftee who decided to stay for his senior season.

Offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi announced that he will bypass the draft and stay at Texas A&M for his final year of eligibility.

"I love playing in front of the 12th Man, I really enjoy being around my teammates, and I will be closer to earning my degree," Ogbuehi said in a statement released by the school. "I appreciated the information I received from the NFL and from Coach [Kevin] Sumlin and Coach [B.J.] Anderson, and I feel it is in my best interest to come back to school. My family has been very supportive and I appreciate their love, input and guidance."

It's huge news for Texas A&M.

The Aggies are already waving goodbye to their other offensive tackle, senior Jake Matthews, who spent most of the season starting at left tackle and is expected to be a top-five pick in the NFL draft. Matthews was in a similar situation in 2013, getting a first-round grade from the NFL draft advisory board but electing to stay for his senior season. Matthews wound up playing his way into the top 10 and is projected as the first offensive tackle to be chosen.

The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Ogbuehi (pronounced oh-BWAY-hee) said in the days leading up to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl that he too received a first-round grade from the advisory board, making his decision a challenging one. But Ogbuehi has the chance to do what Matthews did, play himself into a better position on the draft board for the 2015 draft.

If the Aggies had to replace both tackles, it would have been a tough challenge, especially considering that quarterback Johnny Manziel and receiver Mike Evans -- their two most productive offensive skill position players and two of college football's best -- are leaving early.

Having Ogbuehi back gives the Aggies options. He could return to his right tackle spot, or he could move to left tackle. If junior left guard Jarvis Harrison returns for his senior season, it wouldn't be surprising to see Harrison move to left tackle and Ogbuehi at right tackle. That would give Texas A&M a solid tackle duo once again.

Harrison (6-4, 325) played two games at left tackle when Ogbuehi was out with a groin injury. Matthews moved to Ogbuehi's right tackle spot as a result, and the coaching staff seemed to be pleased with the results.

Ogbuehi has started 30 games for the Aggies. He spent his freshman and sophomore years playing guard before moving to tackle in 2013. The Aggies have had good fortune in recent seasons with offensive tackles (Luke Joeckel [now with the Jacksonville Jaguars] and Matthews. Ogbuehi could be the Aggies' next first-round pick from the position in 2015.

But having him back in 2014 will be a boost for an offense that will be featuring a new starting quarterback to succeed Manziel. The Aggies are likely to have four of their five starters on the offensive line back for 2014.

"Cedric is a terrific athlete and one of the top offensive linemen in the country, and I am excited that he has decided to come back for his senior season," Sumlin said. "In addition to being a top football player, he is a great student and an even better person off of the field. He will be a great leader for our team."

SEC's lunch links

January, 9, 2014
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It's still primetime in the silly season for college football coaches.

So when big dominoes fall, like Texas hiring Charlie Strong and Penn State's Bill O'Brien leaving for the NFL, the ripples fuel a whole new round of the coaching carousel.

Former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino is back at Louisville, one of his former stops) to replace Strong. Will PSU hire James Franklin away from Vanderbilt? Stay tuned!
Derrick Henry, Kevin GreeneAP PhotosAlabama RB Derrick Henry and USC QB Max Browne could be breakout stars in 2014.
Catch your breath from the national title game yet? Good, let’s project what’s next. Or put another way, who is next.

As with my 2013 breakout player list, I’ll outline my full look at 2014 breakout stars later in the year, but it’s never too early to get a head start on scouting college football’s next wave of stars.

With that said, here are the top 10 breakout players to keep tabs on through the spring and summer months.


1. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama Crimson Tide

Even with T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake returning, the Sugar Bowl proved that Alabama has to find a place for Henry.

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SEC all-bowl team

January, 9, 2014
Jan 9
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Catch your breath yet?

What a bowl season, starting really with Texas A&M's heart-stopping comeback to beat Duke 52-48 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and carrying all the way through the VIZIO BCS National Championship with Florida State's last-minute drive to beat Auburn 34-31.

The SEC finished 7-3 in the postseason, and we're honoring some of the best individual performances with our all-bowl team:

OFFENSE

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/Getty ImagesJohnny Manziel's final game at Texas A&M was a memorable one as he threw four TDs and rallied the Aggies from a 21-point deficit.
QB: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M: Yes, Connor Shaw was sensational, too, but Manziel brought the Aggies back from a 21-point halftime deficit. He threw four touchdown passes and ran for another in a memorable farewell for Johnny Football.

RB: Tre Mason, Auburn: Until Florida State's late touchdown drive, it looked as if Mason's 37-yard touchdown run would be what everyone was talking about from the BCS title game. He finished with 195 rushing yards against one of the top defenses in the country.

RB: Jeremy Hill, LSU: LSU fans got a nice surprise this week when reports surfaced that Hill planned to return for his junior season. A few days earlier, he gave them a memorable performance in the Outback Bowl with 216 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

WR: Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State: The Rice secondary had no answers for the speedy Lewis, who finished with nine catches for a school-record 220 yards. He had a 28-yard catch to set up the Bulldogs' first touchdown, a 35-yard catch to set up their second touchdown and a 65-yard catch to set up their fourth touchdown, all in first half.

WR: Bruce Ellington, South Carolina: Ellington is leaving early for the NFL and made some NFL-like catches in his farewell. His one-handed, bobbling catch on the fourth-and-7 play was huge. He finished with six catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns and also threw a touchdown pass.

TE: Arthur Lynch, Georgia: Lynch would love to have that last pass back, but he still hauled in six catches for 69 yards, including receptions to help set up a couple of field goals.

All-purpose: Derrick Henry, Alabama: Get ready to see a lot of Henry next season for the Tide. The freshman running back rushed for 100 yards on eight carries, including a 43-yard touchdown run, and also had a 61-yard touchdown catch.

OL: Jake Matthews, Texas A&M: As left tackles go, Matthews set the standard this season. He was pretty close to flawless in the bowl game, as the Aggies rolled up 541 total yards in their stirring comeback against Duke.

OL: Greg Robinson, Auburn: The BCS title game turned out to be Robinson's final game for Auburn. The junior left tackle is turning pro and heads to the next level on the heels of the kind of performance that became the norm for him this season.

OL: Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State: The Bulldogs racked up 533 yards of total offense in their 44-7 rout of Rice in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, and Jackson was his usual dominant self at left guard.

OL: Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt: The veteran of that Vanderbilt offensive line asserted himself in the fourth quarter when Houston climbed back into it, and the Commodores made a living running behind him.

C: Reese Dismukes, Auburn: There aren't many centers in America better than Dismukes, and he can hold his head high over the way he played against a talented Florida State interior on defense.

DEFENSE

[+] EnlargeDee Ford
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesAuburn's Dee Ford showed why he is one of the nation's best when he recorded two sacks against FSU in the national title game.
DL: Dee Ford, Auburn: Ford had already established himself as one of the top pass-rushers in the SEC this season and then went out and showed it on the biggest stage with two sacks in BCS title game.

DL: D.T. Shackelford, Ole Miss: The Rebels' resilient senior defensive end went out in style with seven total tackles, including a sack, and also had two quarterback hurries.

DL: Kony Ealy, Missouri: Michael Sam received most of the publicity this season for the Tigers, but Ealy was equally productive. He closed out his career with two sacks in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, giving him 9.5 on the season.

DL: Preston Smith, Mississippi State: Smith spearheaded a suffocating defensive effort by the Bulldogs with six total tackles and a quarterback hurry. Rice, after scoring a touchdown on its second possession, was held to 66 total yards the rest of the way.

LB: Serderius Bryant, Ole Miss: Bryant tied for the team lead with eight tackles, including two for loss, and also forced a fumble that led to a safety. The Rebels limited Georgia Tech's option offense to 17 points and 151 rushing yards.

LB: Andrew Wilson, Missouri: The Tigers' senior middle linebacker was everywhere against the Cowboys with 15 total tackles to earn Cotton Bowl Defensive MVP honors.

LB: Skai Moore, South Carolina: Only a freshman, Moore had two interceptions in the Capital One Bowl, the last one coming in the end zone in the fourth quarter with Wisconsin driving.

CB: E.J. Gaines, Missouri: Gaines was one of the most complete cornerbacks in the SEC this season. He capped his career with seven tackles against the Cowboys and an interception at midfield that helped set up a touchdown.

CB: Andre Hal, Vanderbilt: Despite playing with a brace on his elbow, Hal led Vanderbilt with nine total tackles, including an interception to seal the game, and also broke up three passes.

S: Craig Loston, LSU: Loston finished with six total tackles, including three for loss. He also had a key interception in the fourth quarter with Iowa threatening on fourth-and-1 at the LSU 16.

S: Toney Hurd, Jr., Texas A&M: Even though Texas A&M was torched on defense, Hurd's 55-yard interception return for a touchdown with 3:33 to play was the decisive blow for the Aggies.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Marshall Morgan, Georgia: Morgan kept the Bulldogs in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl by making all four of his field-goal attempts.

P: Steven Clark, Auburn: Clark kept Florida State pinned deep most of the night with perfectly placed punts that looked like pitching wedges. He dropped five of his six punts inside the 20, including one at the 6, one at the 4 and one at the 2.

RS: Marcus Murphy, Missouri: One of the top return specialists in the conference, Murphy combined for 136 yards on kickoff and punt returns against Oklahoma State. He had a long of 38 yards on a first-quarter punt return.

So the Johnny Manziel era is over at Texas A&M.

The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner officially announced on Wednesday that he is declaring for early entry into the 2014 NFL draft and will forgo his final two seasons of eligibility. That means no more No. 2 in Aggieland.

[+] EnlargeKenny Hill
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsKenny Hill saw action in five games as a true freshman and is the most mobile of Texas A&M's 2014 quarterback options.
As Aggies reminisce about Johnny Football's greatest hits over the last two years and all the historic accomplishments -- both individual and team -- that occurred during Manziel's 26-game tenure, many are asking "Who's next?"

The Aggies must turn the page to find their next signal-caller. Who will be the quarterback tabbed to succeed Manziel? Virtually nobody is going to expect Manziel's successor to match his well-documented accomplishments, which included him finishing with the two best single-season SEC total yardage marks and come 11 yards shy of 10,000 total in two seasons.

But the Aggies aren't hurting for quarterback talent. There are options in the pipeline that head coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital feel good about. Let's look at the potential options:

Kenny Hill: Hill appeared in five games as a true freshman this season, all of which were blowout victories. He was 16-of-22 passing for 183 yards and a touchdown in his limited action. He competed with Matt Joeckel back in August for the right to be the backup quarterback, though Joeckel wound up getting the more meaningful playing time of the two, starting the season opener against Rice when Manziel missing the first half due to a suspension.

At 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, Hill is a dual-threat who has plenty of experience in the no-huddle, spread-style offenses. The soon-to-be sophomore played in one in high school at Texas power Southlake Carroll, where he won a state championship, and Spavital said earlier this year that he could tell Hill is a quick study.

"He's very calm, cool and collected," Spavital said. "He communicates discretely and that's something that I don't have to emphasize as much. When a true freshman comes in, you [usually] have to try to calm him down to execute. That's what he's pretty good with. He's got the communication and operation part down, we just have to keep working on his execution."

Matt Joeckel: Joeckel will be a senior next season and has the most experience among the possible candidates. He was usually the first one the Aggies turned to when Manziel was out of the game this season, including in the season opener when Manziel was suspended. Joeckel made his first start that day and performed admirably, completing 14-of-19 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown in two quarters of play. For the season, Joeckel was 22-of-37 for 293 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in four games of action.

Like it did during the season, you can bet the coaching staff will give Joeckel a chance to compete during the upcoming spring. Spavital said that he felt Joeckel "earned the right to get in there and compete" and start the Rice game on Aug. 31, so it's likely Joeckel will be given a chance to compete for the starting job in spring football and in the fall.

Joeckel is more of a pocket passer of bigger stature (6-4, 234) and doesn't feature the mobility of Manziel or Hill, but he's an accurate passer and has been in Texas A&M's offense longer than any other quarterback on the roster.

Kyle Allen: Allen will be a true freshman this fall and is a member of Texas A&M's 2014 recruiting class. He's an early enrollee who has already signed his financial aid paperwork. He'll be attending classes in January and will participate in spring football.

Allen is the highest-ranked quarterback recruit that Sumlin has hauled in since he has become a head coach. The 6-3, 200-pound Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) is the 55th-ranked player in the ESPN 300 and the third-best pocket passer in the country according to ESPN's RecruitingNation. A U.S. Army All-American, Allen has the skills that should fit the offense well. He threw for 8,201 yards and 86 touchdowns with 32 interceptions while completing 66.6 percent of his passes in his high school career.

Since he'll be a true freshman and doesn't have the experience that Hill and Joeckel do, it might be an uphill battle for him to start right away, but being around for spring football will increase his chances as opposed to if he were to come in the summer. He'll be on campus to do offseason work from January all the way to the fall. Don't count Allen out of this race, as Sumlin has always been a "best players play" coach, regardless of classification.
Texas' loss is Texas A&M's gain.

The Aggies added four-star defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) to their recruiting class Wednesday, capping off an eventful last 24 hours for the heavily courted prospect.

Henderson, originally a Texas commitment, decommitted then recommitted to Texas in less than a 24-hour span. The change of heart came in the wake of coaching changes at Texas with the addition of Charlie Strong as head coach and the departure of Henderson's future position coach at Texas, Bo Davis, who accepted a similar position at USC.

Two sources with knowledge of the commitment confirmed the news to ESPN.com and Henderson posted the news on his Twitter account Wednesday night. Longview head coach John King also confirmed the news to ESPN.com via text message.

This will be the third time Henderson has committed to a school. Henderson originally committed to TCU last February but decommitted in September. On Dec. 9, Henderson gave Texas his verbal pledge during a ceremony at his school. He chose Texas over Baylor and Texas Tech.

Henderson, an early enrollee who is 6-foot-1 and 318 pounds, was expected to leave for Austin, Texas, on Friday and start classes on Jan. 13. He has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Coming into Wednesday, Texas A&M held the nation's second-ranked recruiting class. Henderson is the Aggies' 22nd commitment and is the fifth defensive lineman to commit. He is the second defensive tackle head coach Kevin Sumlin has brought into the class, joining ESPN 300 prospect DeShawn Washington (Nederland, Texas/Nederland).

Henderson is ranked 36th nationally among defensive tackles and is the No. 47 prospect overall in the state of Texas.
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It's official now: Johnny Manziel -- Johnny Football, if you prefer -- is headed to the NFL, where he'll instantly become the league's biggest celebrity quarterback since Broadway Joe.

Joe Namath, the first player taken in the 1965 AFL draft, was the first celebrity quarterback of the television age.

Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas may have been more famous, but they didn't wear low-cut white cleats while others wore black high-topped cleats.

No other player rocked a full-length fur coat on the sideline, or wore pantyhose during a national television commercial.

Namath had his own style. No one else would've had the nerve to guarantee a win over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Then he delivered the win that brought the AFL the respect it craved and made him a superstar.

Fast forward nearly half a century and another dude with his own flair is about to enter the NFL.

Johnny Football is going to shake up the NFL because his combination of partying and performance is like no other college quarterback in recent memory -- and he hasn't even signed a seven-digit deal yet. He's been living off his parents' bank account and whatever cash he may or may not have received for signing all of those autographs last summer.

We're talking about a dude with more than 700,000 Twitter followers. Just so you know, that's 10 times more than South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and nearly 500,000 more than Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron.


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