Texas A&M Aggies: Brett Wade

Freshman WR LaRue could make impact 

May, 22, 2013
5/22/13
11:00
AM ET
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.

Sebastian Larue
Tom Hauck/ESPNHSTexas A&M signee Sebastian LaRue could see the field early and often in 2013.
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.

Spring game storylines: Texas A&M 

April, 11, 2013
4/11/13
8:00
AM ET
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M has been busy working the last five weeks, participating in spring football with 13 practices under their belt. The 14th is today and the 15th is on Saturday: the Maroon-and-White spring game, which is at 2 p.m. CT at Kyle Field. There's much to know and watch for this weekend. Here are five storylines to keep an eye on:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Donnie Baggs isn't the biggest guy -- or even the biggest linebacker -- on Texas A&M's defense.

But he might have the biggest load to carry this spring and fall for the Aggies. And it's a critical role, one that demands success if Texas A&M is to consider the 2013 season a success on defense.

[+] EnlargeDonnie Baggs
Sam Khan Jr./ESPNLinebacker Donnie Baggs is taking on a leadership role for the Aggies.
In many ways, Baggs' transition -- from reserve linebacker and spot starter last season to likely full-time starter at middle linebacker this season -- is indicative of what the entire group of Aggies linebackers are going through. Change.

Turn your eyes to that group on the Coolidge Grass Practice Fields this spring and what you see -- at least in terms of personnel -- is significantly different than what you would have seen at this time last year. A unit that was considered a strength coming into the 2012 season, with two experienced seniors (Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart) leading the way is now a group in transition, with two new starters and several players who weren't even on the Texas A&M campus prior to January. And that includes the position coach, Mark Hagen, who is in his first year with the Aggies.

Earlier this spring, head coach Kevin Sumlin joked that he doesn't talk to Hagen much because Hagen's too busy melding all the new players together.

"I don't talk to him much because he's busy," Sumlin said with a laugh. "His plate's full, he's running around, he's meeting, he's chasing guys all over the place."

But the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Baggs is at the center of it all -- literally and figuratively. Not only is he responsible for getting acclimated to a new role, he's also the point man for getting the rest of the front seven lined up properly before the offense snaps the football. That task is easier for someone like Stewart, who was an experienced senior with plenty of football under his belt, than it is for Baggs, who has never been a regular starter.

(Read full post)

For newcomers or players who are stepping into new roles, spring football is an important time to develop and get acclimated to their surroundings.

The same can be said for new coaches.

Texas A&M has three new position coaches this spring -- special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Jeff Banks, linebackers coach Mark Hagen and quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Jake Spavital.

Banks, who filled the void left by new Nevada head coach Brian Polian, brings plenty of experience to the table, especially since Banks was an all-conference punter himself at Washington State.

"We talked about replacing Brian with a guy who's just as capable, and Jeff is that," Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "He's got a wealth of experience, he's a former kicker/punter. He can be a technician and can help our guys. I think he's brought a different kind of scheme in all four phases. He's had the ability to keep their interests. Sometimes, change is good."

Sumlin said through the first nine practices, he is seeing some improvement from kicker Taylor Bertolet, who showed inconsistency during his redshirt freshman season in 2012. Bertolet was 13-of-22 on field goals (59.1 percent) and 67-of-74 on point-after-touchdown kicks last year.

"Just like quarterbacks and receivers, they have the opportunity to continue their craft all summer," Sumlin said. "So that will be an ongoing work. But definitely there's been some improvement, particularly with Taylor."

Tommy Sanders
Courtesy of Butler C.C.Junior college transfer Tommy Sanders is getting plenty of work at linebacker for Texas A&M.
Plenty on Hagen's plate: Hagen has a unique challenge. None of the linebackers who has taken snaps with the first team this spring were regular starters last year. The one returning starter of the group -- weakside linebacker Steven Jenkins -- is out this spring with a torn labrum.

"He's got a bunch of young guys," Sumlin said. "He's got Donnie Baggs, who has not played a whole lot of football around here at Texas A&M. He's got two guys who should be going to the prom next month at linebacker in Brett Wade and Reggie [Chevis]. And then he's got a junior college transfer [Tommy Sanders], who just got here. I don't talk to him much because he's busy. His plate's full; he's running around, he's meeting, he's chasing guys all over the place."

"You throw Shaun Ward in there and guys who haven't played a bunch. With Jenkins out, that's given all those guys a lot of turns, [including] Nate Askew, who we moved from wide receiver."

Sumlin said he's seen some positive signs from Hagen and his young linebackers.

"It's really good for a new coach because those guys aren't used to doing a lot of things," Sumlin said. "He has a lot of energy and obviously those guys have made really good strides during the course of spring."

Askew making progress: One of the many new faces at linebacker is one that was on offense last year: Nate Askew.

Before the spring, Askew moved to linebacker from receiver. Sumlin said he's seen Askew make improvement during the spring.

"It's going good," Sumlin said. "Some good, some bad. He's been over there nine practices in pads and the great thing about it has been his attitude and how he's approached the position, how he wants to get better, how he hasn't shied away from contact."

At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Askew brings size and athleticism to the position.

"He's one of the top athletes on this whole team," Sumlin said. "He can really, really help us if he continues to get better the way he's gotten better the last couple of weeks."
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M hit the field on a cool, foggy afternoon for its first open-to-the-public scrimmage of the 2013 spring football season on Saturday at Kyle Field.

There is plenty to take away from the first extended on-field look at the 2013 Aggies, but here are a few things that stood out:

Brandon Williams looks like a potential playmaker: The Brookshire (Texas) Royal graduate, who is nicknamed "Slim," showed some nice moves and ability when he was on the field Saturday. In a handful of touches, Williams showed good vision and speed and was able to beat a few defenders to the pylon for a touchdown run midway through the scrimmage. His initial action was with the second-team offense, but he received plenty of time with the first team as well. Naturally, Ben Malena was the traditional first-team back and Tra Carson got some repetitions as well [freshman Trey Williams, who has been injured all spring, did not participate]. But Williams looked a lot like someone who will get touches and be productive this fall.

Floyd Raven experiment at safety is showing progress: As defensive coordinator Mark Snyder and head coach Kevin Sumlin noted earlier this spring, there are two things Raven does really well that fit the free safety position: He has good speed and he can hit. On Saturday he showed a nose for the football, intercepting quarterback Johnny Manziel once and nearly doing it a second time later in the scrimmage. The junior certainly looks the part so far.

Reggie Chevis
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comFreshman Reggie Chavis received snaps with the first and second team at linebacker on Saturday.
Youth is served, especially on defense: Injuries are keeping several key players on the sideline, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. (Projected starters Julien Obioha, Kirby Ennis and Steven Jenkins are all sitting out this spring.) So it's giving the Aggies a chance to work out some younger players at key positions. Redshirt freshman Tyrone Taylor, younger brother of junior Tyrell Taylor, lined up at defensive end with the first-team offense, as did sophomore Alonzo Williams, who played the last half of the 2012 season and started in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. True freshman linebackers Reggie Chevis and Brett Wade also had plenty of playing time Saturday -- Wade as a second-team weakside linebacker and Chevis at middle linebacker, getting snaps with both the first- and second-team defense. (Junior Donnie Baggs started the scrimmage as the first-team middle linebacker.) Sophomore A.J. Hilliard, who transferred from TCU in January, also saw time with the first-team defensive unit at outside linebacker.

Offensive line set? Whenever the first-team offense was out on the field, the same group of five was out there: Jake Matthews at left tackle, Jarvis Harrison at left guard, Mike Matthews at center, Germain Ifedi at right guard and Cedric Ogbuehi at right tackle. The primary battles going into the spring were to be at center and right guard and so far, it appears Mike Matthews and Ifedi have a solid grasp on those spots.

Positive signs from the kicking game: Sure, the scrimmage doesn't count, but fans certainly had to be happy to see Taylor Bertolet connect on his kicks. The only miscue in the kicking game was a mistake by the holder, punter Drew Kaser, that forced Bertolet to stutter step before a kick that was blockes. But every other field goal and point-after-touchdown attempt that Bertolet tried went through the uprights. The sophomore is looking to bounce back from an inconsistent 2012 season in which he was 13-of-22 on field goal attempts and 67-of-74 on extra point tries.

The stars are still the stars: Manziel made some nice throws and though he did throw three interceptions -- some of which might have been forced since he wasn't really running the football himself -- he overall had a solid day. He certainly remembers how to get the ball to the Aggies' best receiver, Mike Evans, who probably had the most impressive day of anybody, catching two touchdowns and picking up where he left off from 2012.
Cameron ClearDenzel Wright With his size, tight end Cameron Clear would add a different dimension to the Aggies' offense.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M kicked off spring practice for the 2013 season on Saturday and with it comes new players in new roles, new expectations and plenty of other changes.

Many of those changes could be seen on the initial 2013 depth chart released by head coach Kevin Sumlin. There are some absent names because of injuries and there's a long way to go before definitive statements can be made, but it certainly gives us some players and things to keep an eye on moving forward. Among them:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Position breakdown: Linebacker 

February, 26, 2013
2/26/13
1:30
PM ET
The Texas A&M linebacker corps served as a backbone for the Aggies defense in 2012.

With a trio of upperclassmen as starters, including two senior leaders in Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart, it was one area the Aggies defensive coaches didn't have to worry too much about.

Brett Wade
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comCould early enrollee linebacker Brett Wade play as a freshman in 2013?
With Porter and Stewart having graduated and looking toward NFL futures, the Aggies will have two new bodies to line up next to the lone remaining starter of the group, Steven Jenkins.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Coming into national signing day it was already clear that Texas A&M had hauled in one of its best classes in years, perhaps in school history.

When the dust settled and it added one more player to the fold -- four-star defensive end Daeshon Hall, who flipped from Washington to the Aggies -- that much was still true. Every A&M commit that received a letter of intent signed on the dotted line.

Once the fax machine at the Bright Football Complex stopped, the result was a top-10 class.

But A&M coach Kevin Sumlin made it clear, as a member of the Southeastern Conference, that this class can only be a beginning for Texas A&M if it wants long-term success.

"We're still playing catch up in the SEC," Sumlin said. "I just came from upstairs and on ESPN we're ranked eighth in the country in recruiting. Then I look up at the next page and we're like fifth in our league. We're getting there, but we still have a ways to go."

Sumlin is right -- Alabama (No. 1), Florida (No. 2), Mississippi (No. 5) and LSU (No. 7) all finished ahead of the Aggies in this year's ESPN class rankings. But the Aggies recruited on the level of the other SEC big dogs, thanks in large part to the success it had in year one in its new conference.

The Aggies finished with 32 total players -- 31 signees and one transfer. Nine players are already on campus taking classes and working out in preparation for spring football. The other 23 signed on Wednesday, with Hall's signature putting a cherry on top of the class.

There are many reasons that Texas A&M was able to pull in a class of this caliber.

(Read full post)

GigEmNation signing day blog

February, 6, 2013
2/06/13
12:22
PM ET
Welcome to GigEmNation's live coverage of national signing day for the Texas A&M Aggies. We'll be with you throughout the day providing up-to-the minute updates on A&M's class of 2013.

Watch live coverage on ESPNU | 2013 Texas A&M recruiting class

(Read full post)

Signing day primer: Texas A&M 

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
8:00
AM ET
Team needs: There are three key need areas for Texas A&M in this recruiting class: defensive tackles, linebackers and receivers. The defensive tackle need stems from the Aggies' scheme switch. The 2010 and 2011 seasons were spent in a 3-4 alignment, and recruiting was tailored to that. Once Kevin Sumlin arrived and hired Mark Snyder as his defensive coordinator, the Aggies switched to a 4-3, meaning another defensive tackle on the field, meaning more were needed. At linebacker, the Aggies say goodbye to a pair of senior leaders, Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart, both of whom were starters. The other starting linebacker, Steven Jenkins, will be a senior this season. At receiver there are several contributors leaving as well. Ryan Swope, Uzoma Nwachukwu and Kenric McNeal were all seniors. Thomas Johnson, a true freshman who appeared in 10 games and was one of the gems of the 2012 recruiting class, withdrew from school and might not return. There's another scholarship spot at the position in the form of Brandal Jackson, who was on scholarship but not part of the 105-man roster at the start of fall camp.

Help is on the way: At defensive tackle, A&M scored commitments from ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Isaiah Golden. Three-star prospect Hardreck Walker and three-star Jordan Points (who is already on campus) round out that group. There are six linebackers in the class, led by ESPN 300 ILB Jordan Mastrogiovanni. Three are already on campus and enrolled: Brett Wade, Reggie Chevis and Tommy Sanders. At receiver, the Aggies have plenty. Ricky Seals-Jones tops the list, prep school standout Ja'Quay Williams is already in school, and there's a pair of three-star receivers as well. Not to mention, No. 1 tight end prospect Derrick Griffin would be a receiver at A&M if he makes it in, and athlete LaQuvionte Gonzalez likely would be an inside receiver.

Other key commits: A pair of Under Armour All-Americans, guard Joas Aguilar and cornerback Noel Ellis, plus a U.S. Army All-American, safety Kameron Miles, round out a group 10 prospects that are among ESPN's top 300. Two quarterbacks are in the class (Kohl Stewart and Kenny Hill), but it's worth keeping an eye on them as Stewart is a potential high MLB draft pick and Hill took official visits to Baylor and Kansas State. Eight early enrollees in the class are already on campus (Chevis, Points, Sanders, Wade, Williams, Cameron Clear, Alex Sezer and Jeremiah Stuckey), and there are plenty of promising three-star commits, including guys like cornerback Tavares Garner and outside linebacker Darian Claiborne.

Other key targets: There aren't a ton of targets left for the Aggies at this point. Their focus is on a small handful of guys. Adding a defensive end would be ideal for the Aggies, and they're pursuing Washington commit Daeshon Hall and USC commit Torrodney Prevot in that regard. Hall visited recently, and Prevot could soon. They are also still looking at another receiver. Former USC commit Sebastian LaRue is one of those targets, and he was in on an official visit recently. They are also looking at Florida State commit Levonte Whitfield, who said he plans to officially visit Feb. 1.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Introducing the class: LB Brett Wade 

January, 14, 2013
1/14/13
8:00
AM ET
"Introducing the class" is a series in which GigEmNation conducts a Q&A session with each of the incoming recruits in Texas A&M's 2013 class to give readers a closer look at each recruit individually. Today, we visit with Kennedale (Texas) High School linebacker Brett Wade.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

How TAMU is making the numbers work 

January, 7, 2013
1/07/13
11:30
AM ET
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Some people might not believe it, but Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin says he knows the rules.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Wade ready for 'will' linebacker position 

December, 19, 2012
12/19/12
9:30
AM ET
While on his official visit to Texas A&M during the weekend, Kennedale (Texas) High School linebacker Brett Wade got a glimpse into what the on-field future will be for him.

Brett Wade
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comBrett Wade is eager to start his college career.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound, four-star inside linebacker, who is ranked 14th nationally at his position, got a chance to sit down with defensive coordinator Mark Snyder and go over the Aggies' defense and how he'll fit in when he arrives.

Wade, who is one of five high school commitments in Texas A&M's 2013 class that will enroll in time for January classes, enjoyed the opportunity to get an up-close look at the scheme and spend that time with Snyder.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

How TAMU can sign 34 recruits for 2013 

November, 29, 2012
11/29/12
10:30
AM ET
Now that Texas A&M's regular season is complete, coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff have turned their full attention to recruiting, closing out the 2013 class and building on their 2014 haul, which already has begun with three commitments in the books.

With 31 commitments for the Class of 2013, the Aggies currently lead the nation in total commitments. And they're not finished yet, still in the hunt for some of their top remaining targets. Among the players the Aggies are still pursuing:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Each week GigEmNation takes a look some of the top performances from Texas A&M 2013 commits on the field from the previous weekend's action. Here's a glance at some of the best performances from the weekend of Nov. 15-17:

Kenny Hill, Southlake (Texas) Carroll: The quarterback was 16-of-17 passing, an impressive 94.1 percent completion rate, for 256 yards and three touchdown passes in addition to six carries for 137 rushing yards and two more scores in the Dragons' 65-7 win over Arlington (Texas) Martin in the first round of the Texas Class 5A Division I playoffs.

James White, Pearland (Texas) Dawson: The running back had 35 carries for 175 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles' 28-14 win over Richmond (Texas) Foster in the first round of the Texas Class 4A Division I playoffs.

LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Cedar Hill (Texas) High School: Gonzalez 15 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns in the Longhorns' 35-28 win over Copperas Cove (Texas) High School in the first round of the Texas Class 5A Division II playoffs.

Brett Wade, Kennedale (Texas) High School: The linebacker led a defensive effort that held Burkburnett (Texas) High School to just 34 offensive yards in the first three quarters before Kennedale sat its starters in a 68-0 win in the first round of the Texas Class 3A Division I playoffs.

Kameron Miles, Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite: Miles, a safety, also got some time on offense and had four carries for 30 yards and two touchdowns in his team's 33-25 loss to Frisco (Texas) Centennial in the first round of the Texas Class 4A Division I playoffs.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

VIDEO PLAYLIST video

SEC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 11/1