- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
When it comes to freshmen, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin has never been shy about putting them on the field.
Going back to his time at Houston, Sumlin has long been a "best players play" coach, regardless of age or experience. If a player can help his team win and does the right things, that player will see the field.
Last season, Texas A&M had several true freshman either start or contribute to the Aggies memorable 11-2 season. Cornerback De'Vante Harris and defensive end Julien Obioha both started large portions of the year. Others found themselves in the two-deep as contributors or spot starters, like receiver Thomas Johnson, defensive tackle Alonzo Williams and running back Trey Williams.
So it stands to reason that more than one freshman will have an impact this fall. But who will have the greatest impact?
Several true freshmen who have a chance to impact the Aggies are already on campus -- linebackers Reggie Chevis and Brett Wade, defensive tackle Jordan Points, cornerback Alex Sezer and receiver Ja'Quay Williams -- but for this exercise we'll look at only those who aren't yet on campus.
The candidates are still plentiful. At defensive tackle, the Aggies could use more depth. ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Isaiah Golden are prime candidates to make an impact. ESPN 300 cornerback Noel Ellis is a tremendous playmaker in the return game and in the secondary, though the Aggies do have more returning starters in the defensive backfield than any position group on defense. At defensive end, the Aggies are searching for someone to help replace the production of Damontre Moore. Could Jay Arnold or Daeshon Hall help in that role next season? Perhaps.
But the one place where it stands to reason that there will be spots up for grabs and several incoming freshmen to battle for them is receiver. The Aggies only return one starter from last season's quartet (Mike Evans), so there are other spots up for grabs for takers.
While his frame (5-foot-11, 185) isn't as large as someone like Seals-Jones (6-5, 230), he might be the most ready of the group to step in and contribute. Seals-Jones played a lot of quarterback in addition to receiver at Sealy (Texas) High School, and Gonzalez lined up in the backfield as a running back a lot at Cedar Hill (Texas) High School and could be utilized in many ways.
But LaRue has been a receiver through and through and he could be a factor in the return game also. With Dustin Harris graduating, the Aggies don't have a punt returner set in stone for the fall. LaRue could be a candidate there (Gonzalez and Ellis could be as well).
Malcome Kennedy looks like the favorite to start at one of the inside receiver positions, but the other spot will be up for grabs. LaRue could be the guy to find himself playing in that spot quite a bit this fall with his sub 4.5-second 40-yard-dash speed, explosiveness and ability to stop and start and make defenders miss.
3dSam Khan Jr.
5dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough