Texas A&M Aggies: Joshua Reynolds

On Thursday we took a look at five players on the Texas A&M defense who could see increased roles this fall. Today, we'll look at the offense. With three former A&M offensive stars as well as a few rookie free agents pursuing NFL careers, there should be plenty of new faces on the field in the fall. Some have seen the field before, but others are newcomers who arrived in January. Here are five to watch as we chug along the offseason toward the beginning of preseason training camp in August:

[+] EnlargeKyle Allen
AP Photo/Eric GayKyle Allen, a high school All-American, hardly looks like a true freshman and is challenging for the starting QB spot at A&M.
QB Kyle Allen: As one of the most talked about recruits in the Texas A&M's 2014 recruiting class, Allen is someone that Aggies are watching closely. Allen, a true freshman, is competing with sophomore Kenny Hill for the starting quarterback job and though Hill has the edge in experience, Allen showed progress in the spring. Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital tested Allen by giving him a large menu of offensive options and though there were some natural growing pains early, the nation's No. 1-ranked pocket passer in the 2014 class showed maturity beyond his years and progressed well as spring football drew to a close. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Allen also gained extra practice time when Hill had to sit out the final week-plus of spring football while serving a suspension (Hill has since been reinstated). The quarterback battle will play out into August and Allen looks like a worthy challenger to Hill, who got playing time last season in mop-up duty.

RB Tra Carson: Among the players on this list, Carson has played the most, but because the backfield was crowded with options (Ben Malena, Trey Williams, Brandon Williams and quarterback Johnny Manziel also received carries), Carson didn't get too many carries last season. He wound up with 62 totes and averaged 5.3 yards per carry and scored seven touchdowns, and showed flashes in late-season games against Missouri and Duke that he has plenty of ability. He had a strong spring, is good carrying the football as well as in pass protection, which is important in the Aggies' offense. With Manziel and Malena gone and a lot of carries to go around, Carson looks like a prime candidate to emerge from his third-and-short and goal-line role into something much bigger this season.

OG Garrett Gramling: A fifth-year senior, Gramling proved this spring that he'll be a serious candidate for a starting spot somewhere along the line this fall. He was a reserve last year who started in two games (Vanderbilt and UTEP) and filled in for an injured Jarvis Harrison midway through the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and performed well. With Harrison sitting out this spring recovering from shoulder surgery, Gramling stepped back into that left guard spot and played well all spring. With four of five starters returning on the offensive line, there's only one spot to fight for but how the position battle plays out at right tackle will dictate whether a guard spot is available. If there is one, Gramling should challenge for it. If not, he's a valuable reserve to have.

WR Speedy Noil: The five-star recruit arrived in College Station, Texas, with plenty of hype and didn't disappoint. His nickname gives off a pretty good hint at what he brings to the table -- he's an explosive player. He seems to be a natural fit for the Aggies' offense and looks like someone who will contribute right away as a true freshman.

WR Joshua Reynolds: Perhaps the least ballyhooed of the 2014 crop of receiver recruits for the Aggies, Reynolds quickly proved worth some attention. Though slender in frame (6-4, 190 pounds), he has a large catch radius and uses his height well. He has a year of college football experience under his belt (he spent last season at Tyler Junior College) and found himself getting time with the first-team offense as spring football progressed. Regardless of whether he challenges for a starting job, he has the look of someone who could find himself in the receiver rotation, especially if he's able to add some weight this summer.

Editor's note: This week we'll take a brief look at Texas A&M players who surprised us with their performances during spring practice, which wrapped up for the Aggies earlier this month.

One position that saw plenty of competition during spring football and will continue to when preseason training camp begins for Texas A&M is wide receiver.

Three of last year's four starters are gone (Mike Evans, Derel Walker and Travis Labhart) meaning there are a lot of receptions and yards up for grabs. The aforementioned trio of receivers combined for 171 receptions and 2,838 receiving yards last season.

The Aggies have recruited receivers heavily in recent recruiting classes, meaning there's plenty of talented bodies available, though many are unproven. The lack of veteran receivers (Malcome Kennedy is the only returning starter) means even incoming recruits have a chance to fight for a job. While much of the focus in that area was on five-star prospect Speedy Noil, another receiver also enrolled early with him, one who was much less heralded as a recruit: Joshua Reynolds.

"He's been good," coach Kevin Sumlin said in late March. "He's got a real upside to him since he's got three years [of eligibility remaining]. He's a little bit like Derel Walker in that he's long, probably a little bit longer than Derel. He's got great ball skills, can run and has real soft hands."

Reynolds was the definition of an under-the-radar prospect. He wasn't heavily recruited coming out of high school and opted to spend a year at Tyler (Texas) Junior College. He received much more attention there and signed with the Aggies as a mid-term enrollee.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound prospect wasted little time this spring getting quality practice time, including reps with the first team at times. And like Sumlin said, he reminds the Aggies of Walker, who was also a junior college transfer and was second on the team in receiving yards last season with 818 while hauling in 51 catches, scoring five touchdowns.

"Huge catch radius," A&M receivers coach David Beaty said. "I think this guy's path is going to remind us a lot of Derel Walker....He's got good acceleration and he is long. He might have the longest arms I've ever seen."

The one thing Reynolds will have to continue to improve on is maintaining a solid weight. Sumlin noted his slight frame, and though Reynolds did add some weight this spring, he'll have to maintain it going into the fall. If he does, don't be surprised if Reynolds gets on the field and contributes to the high-powered Texas A&M offense.

"This summer's going to be big for him," Sumlin said. "He was pretty slight in junior college like Derel was when he first got here and now, he's gained seven or eight pounds with strength and conditioning and the nutrition center has really helped him. The summer's going to be big for him to carry that weight and continue his progress and learning what we're doing but also being physical and being the kind of guy we need. He's got a real chance to help us next fall."

Position battles to watch: Receiver

February, 17, 2014
Feb 17
9:00
AM ET
Editor's note: This is the first part of a weeklong series looking at five position battles to watch in spring practice, which begins Feb. 28 for Texas A&M.

In each of the last three seasons, one of Texas A&M's receivers exited after rewriting the record books.

In 2011, Jeff Fuller put his name atop the list several A&M receiving categories: single-season receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches, and he established career records in all three.

In 2012, it was Ryan Swope. He left Aggieland as the school's career leader in catches and receiving yards and was its single-season leader in both categories.

After 2013, Mike Evans declared for early entry into the NFL draft and left the Aggies having broken Swope's single-season mark in both single-season receiving yards and single-game receiving yards, and he tied Fuller for the single-season record for touchdown receptions.

As 2014 approaches, the Aggies will be looking for their next great receiver. When spring practice begins later this month, competition begins for the right to be the go-to guy in the wide-open Aggies offense.

[+] EnlargeMalcome Kennedy
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsWith 60 receptions for 658 yards and seven touchdowns, Malcome Kennedy is Texas A&M's leading returning receiver by far.
The simple question: Who is replacing Evans? The answer is not as easy to discover.

There will be fierce competiton this spring at the outside receiver positions. Sophomores Edward Pope and JaQuay Williams each return after playing a backup role at outside receiver last season. There is also a redshirt freshman, Kyrion Parker, who could quickly become a factor.

Pope had nine catches for 65 yards last season -- including the memorable reception at the end of Johnny Manziel's Houdini act to escape a sack attempt by Alabama's Jeoffrey Pagan on Sept. 14 -- and appeared in nine games last season. Williams had four catches for 71 yards and a touchdown while playing in 10 games last season.

A key figure to watch will be Ricky Seals-Jones. The Aggies had high hopes for his freshman season, but those were derailed by a knee injury that cut his season short. He showed a brief glimpse of his ability with a 71-yard touchdown catch in the season-opening win against Rice and did enough in preseason training camp to earn practice time with the first team. If not for the injury, Seals-Jones appeared poised to be a contributor last season.

Much of his practice time was spent as an inside receiver last fall, though he did get some experience lining up outside, too. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, he has size similar to that of Evans, so he would make sense as the potential option at Evans' old position should the Aggies choose to go that way. But he appears versatile enough to line up anywhere. If the Aggies like the matchup problems he gives defenses, he could be again seeing time as an inside receiver. Where he lines up and how often will be worth watching in the spring.

Most of the other Aggies' young receivers on campus, including LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Jeremy Tabuyo, freshman Speedy Noil and junior Sabian Holmes, all appear to be inside receiver types, so it's unlikely any of them will take Evans' place on the field.

When it comes to production, Malcome Kennedy, a veteran who spent his time as an inside receiver last season, is the returning statistical leader among the Aggies' receivers. After a 60-catch, 658-yard season in which he caught seven touchdowns, it stands to reason he could see an increase in production, but does that also mean he'll become the go-to guy in the offense next season while remaining an inside receiver?

In addition to Noil, an incoming freshman already on campus, junior college transfer Joshua Reynolds (also a mid-term enrollee), 6-foot-7 receiver Frank Iheanacho and 5-foot-8 prospect Jamal Jeffery will also join the fray in 2014. Iheanacho and Jeffery won't be on campus until the summer, but Reynolds will get a chance to prove if he's worthy of early playing time when the Aggies begin spring practice.

In this offense, it's sometimes difficult to know who will emerge. Nobody had Travis Labhart on their radar at this time last year -- especially after he broke his collarbone in spring practice -- yet the former walk-on wound up being a key member of the receiving corps with 51 receptions for 626 yards and eight touchdowns while filling in at all four receiver spots in the offense.

The position battles at all four receiver spots -- not just Evans' outside receiver spot -- will be among the intriguing things to watch when the Aggies begin spring drills at the end of the month.

Aggies land commitment from juco WR 

December, 5, 2013
12/05/13
4:20
PM ET
Texas A&M picked up its 19th commitment of the 2014 recruiting class when Tyler (Texas) Junior College receiver Joshua Reynolds committed to the Aggies on Thursday.

The 6-foot-3, 178-pound receiver is the second receiver in the Aggies' 2014 class, joining Lufkin (Texas) High School receiver Jamal Jeffery. Tyler Junior College associate head coach Ryan Muhon confirmed the news of Reynolds' commitment to ESPN.com.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Paul Finebaum: Farewell To Manziel
Paul Finebaum and Keith Olbermann offer a very lukewarm farewell to the college football edition of Johnny Manziel.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

SEC SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 8/28
Saturday, 8/30
Sunday, 8/31