Texas A&M Aggies: TCU Horned Frogs

Finally, football is back. Well, fútbol, actually.

The World Cup will consume sports fan across the globe for the next month, taking us right up to the outskirts of the college football season.

Many in Big 12 country know little about the World Cup, or what team to pull for outside the United States. So to give you soccer novices a rooting choice, we’ve come up with the fútbol counterparts for every team in the Big 12 (thanks to soccer aficionados Royce and Russ for their help in putting this list together):

BAYLOR

Belgium: Baylor has been the up-and-coming squad in the Big 12, winning its first conference title last year. The Belgians are the up-and-comers of this World Cup, and a popular sleeper pick to win it all. Both have lethal offensive attacks, but still must prove their staying power this year.

IOWA STATE

South Korea: On its home soil in 2002, South Korea pulled off three of the bigger upsets in World Cup history, knocking off Portugal, Italy and Spain to reach the quarterfinals. The Cyclones under coach Paul Rhoads have also been a giant killer at home, most recently upsetting second-ranked Oklahoma State to bounce the Cowboys from the 2011 national title race. With 21-year-old forward Son Heung-min leading the charge, South Korea boasts a potentially formidable offensive attack. And with nine offensive starters back this year, Iowa State has the chance to feature its best offense in a long time.

KANSAS

Australia: Both had their finest moments around the same time -- the Aussies advancing out of its World Cup group in 2006; the Jayhawks winning the Orange Bowl in 2007 -- but the hearts of both fan bases lie in another sport (basketball for Kansas, rugby for Australia).

KANSAS STATE

Greece: Greece is not flashy. But emulating the Bill Snyder playbook to success, the Greeks grind out victories (and ties) with stout defense, fundamental play and by avoiding mistakes. Like K-State, the Greeks have been defined by their coach (Otto Graham/Fernando Santos) more than any star player. And Greece’s improbable 2004 Euro Cup title run might be the soccer equivalent of K-State’s Manhattan Miracle.

OKLAHOMA

Germany: The Germans have been the epitome of consistent success, advancing to the semifinals in eight of the last 11 World Cups. The Sooners have matched that level of consistency during the Bob Stoops era, with eight conference titles and a dozen double-digit win seasons over the last 14 years.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Portugal: In recent years, both have piled up the wins and have featured plenty of star power. But they have failed to breakthrough when the spotlight has been the brightest. Portugal’s “golden generation” flopped in the 2002 World Cup, losing to the U.S. in the opener before failing to advance out of the group stage. Oklahoma State could have clinched the 2010 and 2013 Big 12 titles, but slipped at home against rival Oklahoma. The Cowboys and the Portuguese have also had to exist in the shadow of two preeminent powers in their sports (Sooners/Spain). Still they have become two clubs nobody wants to play, and have reached enviable levels of year-to-year success.

TCU

Uruguay: Uruguay is a small country surrounded by some of the giants in World Cup soccer. The same goes for TCU, which doesn’t have the enrollments or resources of the likes of Oklahoma or Texas. But just like Uruguay, TCU has carved out success with a hardnosed style of play. Furthermore, Uruguay won the first World Cup ever played in 1930, while both of TCU’s national championships came in the same decade (1935, 1938).

TEXAS

England: All the tradition, history and resources. And yet in recent years, these two have been massive underachievers. In South Africa in 2010, the English surrendered the top seed in its group to the Yanks, then got obliterated 4-1 by Germany in the first game of the knockout round. The Longhorns, meanwhile, have failed to win more than eight regular-season games the last four seasons. Because of these struggles, both squads are flying somewhat under the radar, and the talent is still there for either to ignite a run. But first, someone -- anyone -- has to light the fuse.

TEXAS TECH

Mexico: After an emotional roller-coaster ride through the qualifying stages, Mexico is feeling optimistic following a manageable World Cup draw and cleaner play of late. Texas Tech rode the roller coaster of a five-game losing streak last season, but is feeling confident these days coming off its dominating bowl performance against Arizona State.

WEST VIRGINIA

Ivory Coast: Les Éléphants bring the fireworks with Didier Drogba and Yaya Touré the same way the Mountaineers have through the Pat White and Geno Smith eras. But while West Virginia dominated the Big East the way Ivory Coast has Africa, neither has been able to take that next step against the big boys. In its first two appearances in the World Cup in 2006 and 2010, Ivory Coast failed to advance out of its group. Likewise, the Mountaineers have struggled their first two years in the Big 12. Both have the individual talents of a championship-caliber club, but neither will contend until the depth improves.

2014 S Bonney talks offers, junior days 

January, 14, 2013
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The fall was quite busy for 2014 safety John Bonney (Houston/Lamar), who was part of a long, prosperous playoff run with his Redskins teammates all the way to the Texas Class 5A Division I state championship game.

ESPN 300 G Billings talks officials, top 3 

December, 26, 2012
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HOUSTON -- ESPN 300 offensive guard Andrew Billings is happy to be playing football again.

The 6-foot-2, 308-pound four-star prospect, who played both offensive and defensive line for Waco (Texas) High School, helped the Lions make it to the Class 4A state quarterfinals before they were knocked out by Wolfforth (Texas) Frenship on Dec. 1.

Now Billings is getting ready for a week of practice and competition at the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, which will be held Sunday at Reliant Stadium. He's also thinking about his college future, which is still to be determined as he chooses from a top three that includes Baylor, Texas and TCU.

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2014 DB Bonney adds OSU offer 

December, 18, 2012
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This is a special time for the Houston Lamar Redskins. They're making history as the first Houston ISD team to make a Texas Class 5A state championship game in 20 years. The last team to do it was Houston Yates in 1992.

And the Redskins ar doing it with defense.

Leading the way are two SMU commits, defensive end Zelt Minor and cornerback Cedric Lancaster, and rising 2014 prospect John Bonney, a safety. They'll lead the Redskins into a battle with Allen (Texas) High School for the Class 5A Division I championship Saturday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

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Aggies add 2014 RB Shaun Nixon 

November, 29, 2012
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Shaun NixonMiller Safrit/ESPN.comESPN Watch List tailback Shaun Nixon is Texas A&M's fourth commitment of the Class of 2014.
Texas A&M's momentum in the 2014 recruiting class continues to build.

The Aggies made their fourth addition to the class on Thursday morning, landing ESPN Watch List running back Shaun Nixon of Austin (Texas) Lake Travis. Nixon confirmed the news to RecruitingNation via text message.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back had five offers in total, with the others coming from Baylor, Clemson, SMU and Texas Tech. He was also receiving interest from TCU, Oklahoma, Alabama and Texas.

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The return: Ricky Seals-Jones is back 

October, 26, 2012
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SEALY, Texas -- For the most part, Ricky Seals-Jones looks much like the same young man he was roughly seven weeks ago. He runs the same, cuts the same, still has the same speed and athleticism.

But there is one small piece of evidence on the Sealy (Texas) High School receiver that gives away the change in his life over that span of time. It's the brace that resides on his left knee.

[+] EnlargeRicky Seals-Jones
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comRicky Seals-Jones, the top prospect in Texas, is No. 10 overall in the ESPN 150.
Seals-Jones, the nation's No. 1 receiver and No. 10 player in the ESPN 150, is fully recovered from the dislocated kneecap he suffered on Sept. 6 in a game vs. Houston St. Pius X, but the brace is a doctor's order. He wears one for practices and games and a different one the rest of the day when he's walking around. All day, every day, the brace is with him. Sometimes, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound young man gets weary of wearing it and slips it off.

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Q&A: 2014 running back Shaun Nixon 

October, 19, 2012
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Austin (Texas) Lake Travis running back Shaun Nixon and Texas A&M have had mutual interest for awhile. The Aggies have long been interested in the 2014 prospect who stands 5-foot-10, 180 pounds.

The Aggies originally offered Nixon in May but plenty of other schools have taken notice of him too. Baylor, Clemson, SMU and Texas Tech all offered him and several others have shown at least some interest, including Alabama and Texas.

GigEmNation's Sam Khan Jr. spoke with Nixon to talk about his upcoming visit plans, who he has been hearing from and more.

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Q&A: ESPN 150 DT Justin Manning 

October, 17, 2012
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The recruiting process has been busy for Dallas Kimball defensive tackle Justin Manning this fall. The 6-foot-2, 275-pound four-star prospect has taken three official visits (to Oklahoma, TCU and Texas A&M) and still plans to visit LSU. The ESPN 150 member originally set an Oct. 19 date for his decision but said earlier this week that he is pushing it back as he continues to think about his college future.

GigEmNation caught up with Manning, one of Texas A&M's top remaining targets in the 2013 class. Manning has a top five that includes LSU, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas A&M and USC. He plans to attend Texas A&M's game against LSU on Saturday.


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2014 safety John Bonney on the rise 

October, 10, 2012
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For Houston Lamar safety John Bonney, this year has been a little bit of an adjustment.

The 2014 prospect, who traditionally plays safety, has spent a lot of time at cornerback this year. The transition hasn't been much trouble for the 6-foot, 175-pound prospect -- he has three interceptions in the Redskins' first five games.


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Dallas Kimball defensive tackle Justin Manning wanted to get a better feel for Texas A&M on his official visit to the campus over the weekend. On Sunday night, after returning home from College Station, Texas, the ESPN 150 member and nation's eighth-ranked defensive tackle said he was able to do just that.

"I tried to get a good feel as much as possible," Manning said. "From the time I stepped on campus I was paying close attention to everything."

Overall, Manning came away with positive takeaways from his visit to Aggieland.

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Cameron Echols-Luper commits to A&M

August, 21, 2012
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Cameron Echols-Luper is heading back to his home state to play college football.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound athlete from Auburn (Ala.) Auburn High will head to the Lone Star State next year after announcing on Tuesday that he has committed to Texas A&M.

Echols-Luper, who is ranked as the 27th-best prospect in Alabama and 108th among athletes nationally, chose the Aggies over his other finalists, TCU and Auburn, where his stepfather Curtis Luper is an assistant coach.

In July, Echols-Luper took an unofficial visit to Texas A&M and came away impressed.

"The campus -- it’s absolutely beautiful," Echols-Luper said. "The stadium was amazing. I also want to run track and college so I toured the indoor facility, which was absolutely phenomenal."

In addition to Texas A&M and TCU, Echols-Luper had offers from Arkansas State, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Memphis, Mississippi, North Carolina, Southern Mississippi, Toledo, UTEP and Vanderbilt.

Recruited by receivers coach David Beaty, Echols-Luper likely fits into the A&M offense as a receiver. Having studied what the Air Raid-style offense achieved in Houston under new Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, Echols-Luper finds the prospect of playing in it as appealing.

"The coaches there, they're great," Echols-Luper said. "I've dealt with coach Beaty and coach Kingsbury. Their offense and how they ran at Houston will also fit me as well. The talk I had coach Sumlin was him basically just telling me his point of view of how he's going to run his program and how he's going to get it done. And also his point of view of how I can help the program."

And since Echols-Luper wants to run track, the fact that Texas A&M is a national power in the sport under coach Pat Henry certainly helped the appeal of the school to him.

"Having national championships and having an indoor facility right there, it basically tells you that they're going to get it done," Echols-Luper said. "They're going to have people that can run, people that can jump, people that can run fast, they're going to have people that can do it no matter what."

Formerly of Ennis, Texas, Echols-Luper still has family in both Ennis and Dallas. Going back to his home state to play college football is something he'll take pride in.

"I'm Texas made," he said.

Decision looms for Cameron Echols-Luper 

August, 20, 2012
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No matter where he goes, Auburn (Ala.) High School athlete Cameron Echols-Luper will feel pretty comfortable.

Of his three finalists, one is in his backyard (Auburn) while the other two (TCU and Texas A&M) are from the state he once called home and still loves. Either way, it's a win-win for the 5-foot-10, 180-pound three-star recruit, who will announce his commitment to one of those three schools Tuesday morning at Auburn High School.

He has managed the recruiting process well but it also pleased to see it wind down.

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