Texas A&M Aggies: Victor Davis

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M begins preseason training camp today. In about four weeks, they'll take the field at South Carolina to open the 2014 season. Here are some things to watch throughout camp:

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Bob Levey/Getty ImagesFormer three-star recruit Kenny Hill, a sophomore, played in five games last season. Could he be the successor to Johnny Manziel?
1. The quarterback battle: Kenny Hill or Kyle Allen? That's the question that has been asked and will continue to be until coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital make a decision on who the starting quarterback will be on Aug. 28 at South Carolina. Hill, a sophomore, has slightly more experience after seeing some playing time in a backup role last season. Allen, the true freshman, enrolled early in January to catch up. Allen had a solid spring, as did Hill until an arrest for public intoxication caused him to miss the final two scrimmages and the final week of spring practice. But both players were told they were on even footing entering summer 7-on-7 workouts. How much each has progressed in the past three months will be displayed early on in training camp. Expect a decision midway through August.

2. Defensive line depth: The Aggies lost two starting defensive linemen for off-the-field reasons: defensive end Gavin Stansbury (left team for personal reasons) and defensive tackle Isaiah Golden (dismissed after two arrests). For a team that struggled to stop the run last season, that doesn't help as the unit tries to find the quality depth necessary to succeed in the SEC. Fortunately for the Aggies, they get two players who missed spring football because of injuries back for training camp -- sophomore defensive ends Jay Arnold and Daeshon Hall, both of whom saw playing time last season. There are also several veterans (Julien Obioha, Alonzo Williams, Tyrell Taylor) and youngsters (Hardreck Walker, Justin Manning, Zaycoven Henderson) not to mention a few incoming recruits to help the unit, but the Aggies have to find answers quick to improve on a disastrous 2013.

3. Safety play: Sumlin hasn't been shy about saying it and it's true: the Aggies have to get better play from their safeties. They return three players who started last season -- Howard Matthews, Floyd Raven and Clay Honeycutt. Matthews got positive reviews from defensive coordinator Mark Snyder in the spring. Keep an eye on Devonta Burns, who saw time in the spring at safety and nickel cornerback, as someone who could be in the mix. And an influx of 2014 recruits could help here as well.

4. Fabulous freshmen: The Aggies' 2014 class was a top-five haul for a reason. They brought in some big-time talent, so don't be surprised if some of those freshmen make waves quickly in camp. Receiver Speedy Noil already impressed in the spring and will look to build on that this month. Five-star defensive end Myles Garrett is the highest-ranked player nationally the Aggies have signed since Reggie McNeal in the 2002 class. With depth concerns on the defensive line and Garrett's college-ready physique, it's safe to say he'll find a way on the field in short order. Henderson, who was an early enrollee, likely figures into the rotation at defensive tackle. And of course, all eyes are on Allen at quarterback to see if he can win the starting job.

5. Right side of the O-line: Sophomore Germain Ifedi, who started all of 2013 at right guard, saw much time at right tackle during spring drills and is listed as the starter there heading into camp. If that holds, the battle on the offensive line -- a unit that returns four of five starters -- will likely be at right guard where Joseph Cheek saw first-team action and junior college transfer Jermaine Eluemunor saw second-team work in spring. Veteran guard and starter Jarvis Harrison, who missed spring because of shoulder surgery, should be ready to go at left guard. He has a capable backup behind him in Garrett Gramling, who started two games last season and saw virtually all the first-team work at left guard this spring. Left tackle (Cedric Ogbuehi) and center (Mike Matthews) is set in stone.

A few other notes:

" Redshirt freshman cornerback Victor Davis, who was arrested on a shoplifting charge in his hometown of Rosenberg, Texas, last month, is still serving an indefinite suspension. Sumlin said on Wednesday that Davis still has some things to do internally in order to get back in the team's good graces.

" Sumlin noted that every one of the class of 2014 recruits is qualified academically and on campus. Kealvin "Tank" Davis, the Aggies' offensive tackle recruit from Garland (Texas) Lakeview Centennial, was the last player Texas A&M was waiting on in that regard and he arrived on campus Wednesday and will be ready to go. This is the second consecutive year the Aggies have not lost a signee to qualification issues (the 2013 class only had one player who didn't make it to campus, Kohl Stewart, who was a first-round pick in the MLB draft).

" The Aggies will practice in helmets only Friday and Saturday, have meetings only on Sunday (no practice), helmets and shoulder pads on Monday and Tuesday and they'll have their first full-padded practice on Wednesday. Thursday will be their first two-a-day practice followed by a single practice on Aug. 8, then a scrimmage on Aug. 9.
Another week, another off-field incident. That is the way it has been this offseason in the SEC, and this past week was no different.

Texas A&M suspended cornerback Victor Davis after he was arrested and charged with shoplifting, and defensive end Gavin Stansbury, who was arrested in April, left the team for personal reasons.

At Georgia, Mark Richt dismissed yet another player a day after defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor was arrested for aggravated assault.

These incidents are just the latest in what has been a troubling offseason for the SEC. With media days behind us and fall camps about to begin, we want to know which team's offseason issues will present the greatest on-field questions for this season.

SportsNation

Which SEC team's offseason issues will present the greatest on-field questions this coming season?

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    12%
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    13%
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    42%
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    8%
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    25%

Discuss (Total votes: 14,133)

In Tuscaloosa, the media's pick to win the SEC has had its fair share of off-field incidents. Dillon Lee and Jarran Reed were both arrested for driving under the influence, Altee Tenpenny was caught with marijuana, and Kenyan Drake was arrested for disobeying a police officer. None of the players involved has been dismissed, but this is becoming both a problem and a distraction for Alabama.

Across the state, Auburn is still trying to figure out what to do with quarterback Nick Marshall. The potential Heisman Trophy contender was given a citation for possession of marijuana this month, but will he miss any time as punishment? To make matters worse, teammate Jonathon Mincy was arrested for the same thing, possession of marijuana, just two weeks prior.

The school that has been in the news the most this offseason is Georgia. Four players were arrested in March for theft by deception. Two of those four, Taylor and Tray Matthews, were later dismissed for separate incidents. A third, Uriah LeMay, opted to transfer. Back in February, safety Josh Harvey-Clemons also was dismissed from the program following multiple violations of team rules.

At Missouri, it was three strikes and you're out for star wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. The sophomore was arrested for the second time on drug-related charges in January, and after being involved in an altercation with his girlfriend in April, he was dismissed from the team. Green-Beckham has since joined Oklahoma.

Lastly, there is Texas A&M, which has not seen any decline in off-field distractions since quarterback Johnny Manziel left. Quarterback Kenny Hill was arrested in March for public intoxication. Two months later, head coach Kevin Sumlin dismissed a pair of key defenders -- Darian Claiborne and Isaiah Golden -- after they were arrested and charged with aggravated robbery. Then the news broke this week with Stansbury’s departure and the suspension of Davis.

Five storylines: Texas A&M vs. Rice

August, 28, 2013
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M held its regularly scheduled weekly news conference on Tuesday in advance of its season opener against Rice on Saturday. While many wonder about the status of quarterback Johnny Manziel, there are other things to keep an eye on. Here are five storylines facing the Aggies as they await the Owls at Kyle Field:

1. Will Manziel play?

That's what Texas A&M fans and much of the college football wants to know: will Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel start on Saturday for Texas A&M? The question remains unanswered officially. Athletic director Eric Hyman released a statement on Monday evening indicated that he instructed the coaching staff and players to not comment on Manziel's status. When Kevin Sumlin was asked about it on Tuesday he said "We're not discussing that....I can't talk about how that decision is going to be made and what goes into that decision. I said from day one, the first day [of training camp], that there will be a lot of people involved in that decision. So what goes into how that decision's made, obviously I can't discuss." So for now, the wait continues.

[+] EnlargeMatt Joeckel
Icon SMIIf defending Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is held out Saturday against Rice, it could be up to junior Matt Joeckel to lead the Aggies.

2. What if Manziel doesn't play?

At this point, the Aggies turn to either junior Matt Joeckel or true freshman Kenny Hill. Both received praise from coaches and teammates alike on Tuesday. Senior running back Ben Malena said he believes the team will be comfortable with whoever is taking snaps on Saturday. Offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney said offensively, the Aggies would still remain the same. Joeckel brings the presence of a pocket passer who has already spent a year learning the offense while Hill is a dual threat who can run and throw and has had to learn the offense quickly. But on Tuesday, the Aggies appeared confident in both of them should either be pressed into duty.

3. New faces

Sumlin advised fans attending Saturday's game to "buy a program or bring a flip card," because of how many newcomers will see time on the field. Of the 31 players who signed with the Aggies in February, Sumlin said he expects at least 10 to play a role this season, and perhaps as many as 15. Some of the notable newcomers to look for on Saturday include freshmen receivers Ricky Seals-Jones and LaQuvionte Gonzalez, tight end Cameron Clear, who was a juco transfer, linebacker Tommy Sanders -- also a juco transfer -- and true freshman linebacker Shaan Washington. Look for even more newcomers to get looks on special teams, including some of the aforementioned names.

4. Missing personnel

There are suspensions facing three defensive players: senior defensive tackle Kirby Ennis, junior cornerback Deshazor Everett and junior safety Floyd Raven, all three of whom had off-the-field legal trouble this offseason. Ennis and Raven will miss the entire game; Everett will miss a half. Ennis is a starter, so that means you could see a true freshman -- either Isaiah Golden or Hardreck Walker -- in his place when the Aggies go to four defensive linemen. In place of Everett, also a starter, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said that the Aggies will rotate cornerbacks. Expect to see a heavy dose of Tramain Jacobs but possibly some freshmen such as Alex Sezer, Victor Davis or Tavares Garner as possibilities.Raven isn't listed as the starter at free safety like he was coming out of spring football. Instead, it's junior Clay Honeycutt, who Snyder was complimentary of on Tuesday. Honeycutt, a former high school quarterback at Dickinson (Texas) High, has come a long way according to Snyder and has earned himself the start against Rice.

Also of note, running back Brandon Williams [foot surgery] might be limited. Offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney said "I wouldn't expect to see a lot from Brandon on Saturday."

5. Familiar foes

The Aggies and Owls haven't met on the field since the Southwest Conference folded in 1995, as both teams were part of the now-defunct league, but the coaching staffs do have recent history. David Bailiff is in his seventh season at Rice, a rival of Houston, where Sumlin was the head coach for four seasons (2008-2011). Snyder also stood on a sideline opposite Bailiff when Snyder was the head coach at Marshall from 2005-09. Sumlin's staff also recruited Rice starting quarterback Taylor McHargue when Sumlin was with the Cougars. So there is plenty of familiarity, at least in terms of coaching staffs, between the two squads.

When it comes to defensive backs, the class of 2014 is a strong one in the Lone Star State.

And Texas A&M is doing quite a job locking down several as commitments, adding two more to their 2014 haul on Saturday in the form of ESPN Watch List safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner and Forney (Texas) North Forney athlete Armani Watts.

Position breakdown: Defensive backs 

February, 27, 2013
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Deshazor EverettAP Photo/Dave MartinDeshazor Everett's interception against Alabama will go down in A&M lore.

Having the same combination of players in the secondary from week to week wasn't a common occurrence for Texas A&M in 2012.

Whether it was an injury or simply trying fit the right pieces into the right places, the defensive backfield was an area where the Aggies moved a lot of pieces.

The unit had its ups and downs but returns plenty of experience for 2013.


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GigEmNation signing day blog

February, 6, 2013
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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)

Future uncertain for top TE Griffin

February, 5, 2013
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The future appears unclear at the moment for ESPN 150 tight end Derrick Griffin.

Texas A&M's recruiting class on Wednesday will not include the 6-foot-6, 228-pound prospect from Rosenberg (Texas) Terry. Griffin will not sign a letter of intent with the Aggies, according to his coach at Terry, Tim Teykl.

Teykl confirmed that Griffin has not received a national letter of intent from the Aggies, nor is he expected to. As for whether Griffin will sign with another school or a junior college on Wednesday or any time in the near future, Teykl is uncertain.

There have long been concerns about Griffin's ability to qualify academically, so the development does not come as a surprise.

As for Griffin's teammate, Texas A&M safety commit Victor Davis, he is expected to sign at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Teykl said.

Read the full story here

Griffin, Davis like what they see from A&M 

November, 21, 2012
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DEER PARK, Texas -- Back on Oct. 20, Rosenberg Terry teammates Derrick Griffin and Victor Davis were all smiles as they sat at Kyle Field.

The two Texas A&M commitments were among dozens of recruits in College Station, Texas, that day to watch the Aggies host LSU. Since that time, both have returned their focus to their high school team, helping the Rangers get to the Texas Class 4A Division II playoffs.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Griffin
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comTight end prospect Derrick Griffin says he 'more solid' in his commitment to Texas A&M.
During a season in which Terry suffered injuries at multiple key positions, the Rangers have endured and Griffin, Davis and co., won their first-round playoff game Thursday, defeating Baytown Goose Creek Memorial 47-35 at Deer Park High School's Abshier Stadium.

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Focus on '14: Safeties 

October, 23, 2012
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GigEmNation is taking a weekly position-by-position look at the 2014 recruiting class as it relates to Texas A&M, whom the Aggies are targeting, as well as 2013 commits and who on the roster will graduate. Today, we look at the safety position.

2013 commits: Victor Davis, Rosenberg (Texas) Terry; Shaan Washington, Alexandria (La.) High School; Jonathan Wiggins, Houston Alief Taylor.

[+] EnlargeEdwin Freeman
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comClass of 2014 safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie) likes the Aggies.
Safeties who'll graduate: Steven Campbell, Steven Terrell, C.J. Jones.

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Five from Friday: TE Griffin stands out 

October, 22, 2012
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We introduce a new feature on GigEmNation today: Five from Friday, where GigEmNation writer Sam Khan Jr. discusses five things he saw and learned while on the road watching football recruits from games in the Midlands region.

Derrick Griffin
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comTight end Derrick Griffin caught two touchdowns passes for Rosenberg, Texas.
1. Rosenberg (Texas) Terry tight end Derrick Griffin is still as good as advertised. The 6-foot-6, 228-pound Griffin displays incredible athleticism, from his speed, his hands, his leaping ability and his propensity to block downfield. His team uses a run-heavy veer offense and the Rangers are on their third-string quarterback, so Griffin didn't get as many opportunities on Friday in his team's 30-0 win over Bay City (Texas) High School. But when he got the opportunities, he took advantage as two of his three catches were for touchdowns. He said he's still "keeping his options open" at the moment while maintaining his commitment to Texas A&M, but it's noteworthy that he was sitting front and center at Kyle Field for the LSU game on Saturday with teammate Victor Davis and Manvel's Tavares Garner, both Texas A&M cornerback commits.

2. Whoever takes a chance on Eugene Wright is going to get a quality player. The Rosenberg (Texas) Terry back is undersized (5-8, 160 pounds) but he's quick and shifty and can change the game at a moment's notice when the ball gets into his hands. On Thursday against Bay City (Texas) High School, Wright averaged a whopping 14.2 yards per carry, gaining 128 yards on nine totes including a 58-yard touchdown to lead the Rangers to a 30-0 win. Notably, all those numbers came in the first half as Wright was injured in the second quarter and didn't return. But the Rangers already had the 30-0 lead at halftime so his services weren't needed in the final two quarters. Wright has had interest from Boise State, Texas Tech and West Virginia this year.

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Visitors for LSU vs. Texas A&M 

October, 17, 2012
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A huge SEC West tilt is on tap Saturday at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. That's when No. 18 Texas A&M hosts No. 6 LSU.

In addition to the expected sellout crowd, a healthy number of recruits should be in attendance, including some of the Aggies' top targets in the 2013 and 2014 classes.

Here's a list of recruits who are expected to be at the game Saturday. As the week goes on and we confirm more visitors (or those who change plans), we'll update the list.

  • 2013 WR Quincy Adeboyejo, Cedar Hill (Texas): No. 77 WR; Texas A&M commit
  • 2014 OLB Gyasi Akem, Broken Arrow (Okla.): (Arkansas State offer)

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Victor Davis improving, expanding game 

September, 5, 2012
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ROSENBERG, Texas -- Victor Davis is as solid as it gets when it comes to his commitment status. The Rosenberg (Texas) Terry safety, who is ranked 17th nationally at his position, said it's still Texas A&M all the way for him and that hasn't changed since his commitment in February.

On the field, Davis was hard at work during fall camp to improve in several areas and had a chance to show some off his improvement in a 59-35 Terry win over League City (Texas) Clear Falls on Saturday.

[+] EnlargeVictor Davis
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comSafety Victor Davis will be in College Station, Texas, this weekend for the Aggies' first game of 2012.
"I've just been working on getting my footwork better and covering and just trying to get better every day," Davis said.

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Visitors for Texas A&M-Florida 

September, 4, 2012
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Plenty of eyes from around the country will be on College Station, Texas on Saturday afternoon as Texas A&M begins its first Southeastern Conference campaign against Florida.

Not only is the game of interest to college football fans, it's also going to be a hot spot for recruits who will be visiting Kyle Field and taking in the game.

Here's a list of recruits that are expected to be in attendance for the game on Saturday. As the week goes on and we confirm more visitors, we'll update the list. So far, here's who has been confirmed by RecruitingNation:

  • 2013 WR Quincy Adeboyejo, Cedar Hill (Texas): No. 77 WR; Texas A&M commit
  • 2013 OG Joas Aguilar, North Richland Hills (Texas) Birdville: No. 106 in ESPN 150; Texas A&M commit

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LB Reggie Chevis still solid with A&M 

August, 16, 2012
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HOUSTON -- Not much has changed for Reggie Chevis since he pledged to Texas A&M.

The Houston/Sharpstown linebacker has been working out, preparing for the 2012 season and keeping in regular communication with the two Aggies coaches that recruited him: running backs coach Clarence McKinney and linebackers coach Matt Wallerstedt.

"I talk to my recruiting coach and position coach every day or every other day," Chevis said. "I'm very close to them and I have a good relationship with those guys."

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Current and future: Safeties 

August, 9, 2012
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As the 2012 season approaches, GigEmNation will take a look at where the Aggies stand currently and in the future at each position group. Today, we glance at the safeties.

Current

On the depth chart: Steven Campbell, Johntel Franklin, Toney Hurd, Howard Matthews, Steven Terrell

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