Texas A&M Aggies: B.J. Anderson

As if four commitments in a week and two in one day wasn't enough, Texas A&M made yet another recruiting splash on Friday. And it might turn out to be its biggest in recent weeks, both figuratively and literally.

The Aggies landed the commitment of one of the premier prospects in the 2016 class, Allen (Texas) High School offensive tackle Greg Little.

In their two seasons together at Texas A&M, Mike and Jake Matthews had distinct roles and personalities.

Jake was the cagey veteran, a quiet leader and productive offensive tackle who helped anchor one of the best units in the country. Mike was the up-and-coming center, the younger brother was a little bit louder and "rowdy," according to a teammate.

[+] EnlargeMike Matthews
Thomas Campbell/USA TODAY SportsAs his brother Jake heads off to the NFL, center Mike Matthews is preparing to lead what looks to be another strong line at Texas A&M.
Now that Jake Matthews is preparing for his professional career as a projected first round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, Mike Matthews continues to make significant strides as the Aggies' center, finding a comfort level as he enters his junior season.

"I think I'm just a lot more comfortable with this offense and the guys here," Mike Matthews said. "I just enjoy it, go out here every day, I'm not nervous. ... Now I feel comfortable with what I'm doing -- I feel confident."

He should. Having played only part-time as a freshman in 2012, the 2013 season was his first as a full-time starter. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin elected to have Mike Matthews serve as the backup center in his first season rather than redshirt behind then-senior Patrick Lewis so that Matthews would get a taste of SEC life: the travel, the opponents, the whole nine yards.

That helped prepare the younger Matthews for the starting role once Lewis graduated. While there were some bumps in the road in his sophomore season, he looks poised for a strong 2014 based on what Texas A&M offensive line coach B.J. Anderson saw in spring football.

"Mike has total control of the offense," Anderson said. "He's got as much freedom as any center I've ever coached. He's got it all. He can change whatever he wants to change and I trust him that much. Guys around him trust him."

For the Aggies, that's huge. In their uptempo, no-huddle offense, communication is critical, especially when it comes to protection calls for the offensive line. Anderson said Matthews can handle that responsibility well and on top of it, he continues to be a high-energy presence in all facets of the program.

"He's doing exactly what we need him to do," Anderson said. "He's really a leader for us up front. Great energy guy, outspoken guy, he brings the juice to practice, brings the juice to the game, brings the juice to the meetings. He's a big piece of that puzzle."

The 6-foot-2, 285-pound (depending on the day) Matthews is one of four returning starters on the Aggies' offensive line. Offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and guards Jarvis Harrison and Germain Ifedi join him to bring plenty of experience as the Aggies look to match or exceed their performance from a season ago.

"I think just approach every day like it's our last day," Matthews said. "Go out there and work hard, not take any plays off. I think if we do that, we're going to have a good chance to be just as good as last year."

While Anderson praises Matthews' physical strength, he continues his effort to keep his weight up. Matthews hovered around 283 pounds during spring practice.

"You can get him up, but then he'll go into [the weight room] with [strength and conditioning coach] Larry Jackson and Larry will run him and lift him and do that stuff, and next time he weighs in, he'll be down," Anderson said. "The key is don't get too focused on the weight because he's one of the strongest -- if not the strongest guys -- in my room. He plays with great leverage. We're going to keep working on the weight, but we're not chasing number. He's very effective at the weight he's at."

Anderson said Matthews' energy is contagious to those around him and it's helpful. Since he arrived on campus, Jake Matthews has noted Mike's constant chatter, but as he continues to develop into a leader for the Aggies, it's a safe bet that those around him are listening and enjoying it.

"It's a job, but at the same time, you don't want to come in here and hate it," Mike Matthews said. "You want to have fun and on the field, [so I'm] just being loud and making noise and getting guys to run up to the ball after every play and staying on guys. That way we can have high energy."
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Going into spring football there was one spot on the Texas A&M offensive line expected to play host to serious competition for a starting job: right tackle.

Initially, two junior college transfers, Avery Gennesy and Jermaine Eluemunor, were the early candidates expected to compete for the position.

But with versatile talent across its offensive line, Texas A&M had other options to explore as well. So far, the Aggies have done just that in experimenting with yet another candidate: sophomore Germain Ifedi.

"With the two new JC guys and then moving Ced [Ogbuehi] to left [tackle], we've actually experimented with a little Germain Ifedi at right tackle," Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said. "He thinks he's skinny anyways at 324 [pounds]."

The 6-foot-5 Ifedi was the Aggies' full-time starter at right guard last season, his first as a starter after redshirting in 2012.

The Aggies like having versatile offensive linemen and have utilized them as such in the past. Last season, Jake Matthews played left tackle but spent two games at right tackle. Ogbuehi played right guard and right tackle previously before making the switch to left tackle this spring. Jarvis Harrison, who is sitting out spring while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, has been the left guard but also spent two games at left tackle last season.

So it should come as no surprise that the Aggies are mixing and matching to see what works best.

"We've created a little bit more energy during practice with those guys up front and a bunch of new guys out there anyway moving positions and trying to earn them," Sumlin said. "Whenever you have something like that, the energy level is always pretty good, I think."

While Harrison has sat out, Garrett Gramling -- who started two games at left guard last season -- has worked at left guard this spring. When Ifedi has practiced as the first-team right tackle, veteran tackle Joseph Cheek has seen time at right guard with the first group.

"He's a big dude in there now," Sumlin said of Gramling. "He's all of 6-6 and 315-320 pounds and really gives us some flexibility at guard to be able to move Germain around and Cheek. People forgot Cheek is still here. We've got some guys around that give us some quality depth in the offensive line."

When it comes to Gennesy and Eluemunor, Sumlin has also liked what he has seen and the work that offensive line coach B.J. Anderson has done with the entire offensive line.

"Coach Anderson has done a good job of putting them with the twos so they can get used to their technique because when they get up there with the ones, things are happening real fast," Sumlin said. "Guys get a little bit worried. Avery is really, really athletic. Jermaine is a lot more athletic than I thought he would be. Those two guys are great additions. It just takes some time."

Early Offer: 2015 begins now 

February, 7, 2014
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: The ink was barely dry on the letters of intent for 2014 class when one of the best for the 2015 class came off the board; and what schools and recruiters have jumped out of the gate with success with players that won’t sign for another 360-plus days.


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A day after its quarterback declared for the NFL draft, Texas A&M got some good news about another potential draftee who decided to stay for his senior season.

Offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi announced that he will bypass the draft and stay at Texas A&M for his final year of eligibility.

"I love playing in front of the 12th Man, I really enjoy being around my teammates, and I will be closer to earning my degree," Ogbuehi said in a statement released by the school. "I appreciated the information I received from the NFL and from Coach [Kevin] Sumlin and Coach [B.J.] Anderson, and I feel it is in my best interest to come back to school. My family has been very supportive and I appreciate their love, input and guidance."

It's huge news for Texas A&M.

The Aggies are already waving goodbye to their other offensive tackle, senior Jake Matthews, who spent most of the season starting at left tackle and is expected to be a top-five pick in the NFL draft. Matthews was in a similar situation in 2013, getting a first-round grade from the NFL draft advisory board but electing to stay for his senior season. Matthews wound up playing his way into the top 10 and is projected as the first offensive tackle to be chosen.

The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Ogbuehi (pronounced oh-BWAY-hee) said in the days leading up to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl that he too received a first-round grade from the advisory board, making his decision a challenging one. But Ogbuehi has the chance to do what Matthews did, play himself into a better position on the draft board for the 2015 draft.

If the Aggies had to replace both tackles, it would have been a tough challenge, especially considering that quarterback Johnny Manziel and receiver Mike Evans -- their two most productive offensive skill position players and two of college football's best -- are leaving early.

Having Ogbuehi back gives the Aggies options. He could return to his right tackle spot, or he could move to left tackle. If junior left guard Jarvis Harrison returns for his senior season, it wouldn't be surprising to see Harrison move to left tackle and Ogbuehi at right tackle. That would give Texas A&M a solid tackle duo once again.

Harrison (6-4, 325) played two games at left tackle when Ogbuehi was out with a groin injury. Matthews moved to Ogbuehi's right tackle spot as a result, and the coaching staff seemed to be pleased with the results.

Ogbuehi has started 30 games for the Aggies. He spent his freshman and sophomore years playing guard before moving to tackle in 2013. The Aggies have had good fortune in recent seasons with offensive tackles (Luke Joeckel [now with the Jacksonville Jaguars] and Matthews. Ogbuehi could be the Aggies' next first-round pick from the position in 2015.

But having him back in 2014 will be a boost for an offense that will be featuring a new starting quarterback to succeed Manziel. The Aggies are likely to have four of their five starters on the offensive line back for 2014.

"Cedric is a terrific athlete and one of the top offensive linemen in the country, and I am excited that he has decided to come back for his senior season," Sumlin said. "In addition to being a top football player, he is a great student and an even better person off of the field. He will be a great leader for our team."
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — In last Saturday's 56-24 victory over Vanderbilt, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel recorded a career-low 11 rushing yards.

Nursing an injured throwing shoulder, Manziel recorded only four official carries, which also was a career low. There were no designed running plays in the game plan for him, Manziel said, and coaches noted that they wanted to be smart about not putting the Heisman Trophy winner's shoulder in harm's way.

But throughout his college career, Manziel's scrambling ability has become a signature trait, something that has helped make him one of the most electrifying players in the country. His combination of speed, agility and decision-making have made him a challenge for opposing defenses, but it also took some adjusting for the Aggies' offensive line last season, when he rushed for 1,410 yards. (Manziel has 497 so far this year.)

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsJohnny Manziel's unique abilities required a lot of adjustment for his offensive linemen at Texas A&M.
"It just takes a while," offensive line coach B.J. Anderson said. "We came in last season and -- it's not just the linemen, it's the coaching staff, too -- I've learned a lot. I remember the Florida game last year [to open the season]. If you look at our offense then as compared to our offense now, now it looks like it's built around our quarterback. Then it looks like it's built around Case Keenum. And that's just the truth of it."

Keenum was the record-breaking passer at the University of Houston, who enjoyed tremendous success under Kevin Sumlin and the Cougars' offensive coaching staff, many of whom followed Sumlin when he accepted the Texas A&M head coach job. Keenum, now starting for the NFL's Houston Texans, wasn't a statue in the pocket, but he wasn't quite the athlete that Manziel is. Few quarterbacks are.

Because of Manziel's ability to extend plays from a traditional three, four or five seconds, the Aggies' offensive linemen must block longer and be smarter, because they never know when or where Manziel might take off and run. Look at his signature play from the 2012 season: a 10-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Swope against Alabama. On that play, Manziel collided into Jake Matthews, who was playing right tackle, before gathering himself, recovering a near-fumble then scrambling away to throw the pass.

Even 21 games into his career, the veterans up front say it's still a process.

"There's still times where you feel like you're adjusting because you never know which way he's going to dart out of that pocket," offensive tackle Jake Matthews said. "Sometimes he's right behind you and you think he's going under you. It can get kind of confusing sometimes. But he makes so many plays for us that we're willing to go the extra mile and block that much longer for him. It's a little bit of a challenge, but you've got to love it."

And Manziel has helped matters by being open about what his preferences are when the play breaks down.

"He's such a football nut," Anderson said of Manziel. "He'll tell you, 'I don't want to run up in there [pointing to a specific area]. There's too much [going on] in there. It's not clear to me. I want to run around people.

"So that's why you've seen all these packages of us pulling everybody around and there goes Johnny. We're not geniuses, but what they're good at, we want to do."

Starting center Mike Matthews says he pays keen attention to where his defender is going, which is what many linemen do anyway because the defensive linemen are chasing after the quarterback. But when the defender takes off abruptly, it can get tricky.

"When [Manziel] rolls out sometimes, it's kind of hard because you're blocking a guy and next thing you know, he sprints straight to the sideline," Matthews said. "I'm assuming Johnny rolled out, so I just start running after him."

Anderson said he believes his group has made significant strides in learning and adapting to their quarterback based on film study and practice time. Opponents try several different tactics, but the Aggies seem to handle them well. The key, Anderson said, is to finish blocks.

"You've got to maintain blocks unlike you've ever done," Anderson said. "Most quarterbacks, you know where they are the whole time. Johnny, that's just part of his game.

"We work awfully hard at finishing blocks, putting pressure on guys -- A, so they don't jump and knock balls down; and B, in case he's right beside you, a guy can't yank him and bring him to the ground. We're going to get to our spots, our intersection points in the passing game, cover people up and apply pressure and let Johnny make us right."

Juco OT Eluemunor flips to Texas A&M

October, 28, 2013
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Is the third time the charm?

Rockaway (N.J.) Lackawanna College offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor flipped his commitment from Arkansas to Texas A&M on Monday afternoon, continuing the strong momentum the Aggies have built recently on the recruiting trail.

Eluemunor, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound prospect who is originally from England, chose the Aggies after an official visit over the weekend as Texas A&M hosted Vanderbilt. It is the third team Eluemunor has committed to in his recruiting process, originally choosing UCLA on June 9 before switching to the Razorbacks on July 26.


The Aggies long have been on the hunt for a junior college offensive tackle to help add depth at the position. Texas A&M currently has two upperclassmen starting at the position: senior Jake Matthews at left tackle and junior Cedric Ogbuehi at right tackle.

Eluemunor, who was recruited by offensive line coach B.J. Anderson, can help bridge the gap to the three high school tackles the Aggies currently have committed in their 2014 class -- Kealvin Davis, Zachary Ledwik and Koda Martin -- if he can develop quickly enough.

A host of power programs offered Eluemunor, including Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC. He is the Aggies' 17th commitment in the 2014 class and the fourth commitment, regardless of classification, in the last 10 days, joining defensive ends Myles Garrett, Qualen Cunningham and 2015 defensive tackle Daylon Mack.

Eluemunor emigrated to the United States from London in 2009 with little football knowledge or experience. He didn't become a starter on his high school football team until his senior season. In the aftermath, Eluemunor went from unrecruited high school prospect to one of the most heavily recruited junior college offensive tackles, with more than 20 scholarship offers, in the span of about a year.

Eluemunor announced via Twitter that he's shutting down the recruiting process.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — After losing a left tackle who was the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft and a center who was a two-year starter at the position and a four-year starter overall, it was easy to believe that there would be a drop-off in performance from the Texas A&M offensive line.

Through six games, the No. 7 Aggies can safely say all is well up front. Even with two newcomers and some shuffling by moving returning starters around, the unit is again performing at a high level and is one of the reasons Texas A&M's offense continues to be one of the best in college football.

While it's difficult to replicate what the Aggies had last season, when all five starters last season played multiple seasons together, it's easy to see how well this year's group is doing. All it takes is watching quarterback Johnny Manziel drop back and sit comfortably in the pocket for five, six and sometimes seven seconds looking for a receiver or deciding to use his scrambling ability to gain yardage.

[+] EnlargeJake Matthews
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesJake Matthews is playing well at left tackle after playing right tackle in 2012.
And in the Aggies' victory over Arkansas on Sept. 28, the line paved the way for two second-half touchdown drives that consisted of all running plays. Texas A&M had more rushing yards than passing yards.

"Offensive line has played really good, with the exception of one game," offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney said. "I think those young guys in one of those six games -- I think it was SMU -- had some struggles. But for the most part, they've played great."

Against SMU, there were some penalties and self-inflicted errors that the Aggies needed to clean up. Their performance against No. 1 Alabama was strong and they've been consistent, for the most part, the rest of the year.

The transition began back in spring, moving Jake Matthews from right tackle to left tackle to replace Luke Joeckel. To fill Matthews' void, right guard Cedric Ogbuehi kicked out to right tackle. Jake's younger brother Mike Matthews stepped in as the starter at center and redshirt freshman Germain Ifedi slid in at right guard. The only player still in the same position last season is left guard Jarvis Harrison.

Behind that quintet, the Aggies are putting up 586.5 yards per game (No. 3 in the country) and have allowed only seven sacks, which puts them in the top 30 statistically in the country. They're 20th in rushing yards (224.6 yards per game) and sixth in passing yards (361.8 per game).

"They're getting better every week," senior running back Ben Malena said. "It's hard to compare this year's group to last year's because they're only six games in, but I can tell you every week they are getting better."

The biggest question marks coming into the season centered around the first-time starters. So far, they've answered the questions.

"I'm really pleased with the young guys," offensive line coach B.J. Anderson said. "I think they've made some strides. They've played in some atmospheres where we had to communicate. Mike's done a really good job. I've changed protections on him a couple games. ... I'm really pleased with where he's at, and the same way with Germain. He's getting better every game and we're fixing some things that need to get fixed and we'll just keep working."

Anderson noted that they're not holding anything back from Mike Matthews, who is just a sophomore, when it comes to game-planning and protections. That's critical considering the vast array of defensive looks Anderson said opponents have thrown at the Aggies.

"If you had told me that I had that flexibility back in August, I'm not sure I would have believed you," Anderson said. "But he's got the kitchen sink right now. I'm not doing anything that I didn't do with Pat Lewis, who was a senior. He's able to make all the adjustments I need and I'm really pleased with the mental work he does during the week, preparation-wise."

The "older guys" -- senior Jake Matthews and juniors Harrison and Ogbuehi -- have also shined. Matthews' adjustment to left tackle has been smooth, as has Ogbuehi's to right tackle. Harrison has impressed Anderson with his effort week to week.

"Jake's Jake and Ced's doing a good job and Jarvis Harrison is playing his tail off -- as well as he's played since I've been here," Anderson said. "He's playing with great effort. It shows on tape and I'm happy with those older guys."

Manziel's progression and mastery of the offense in the second season in the scheme has helped as well. Players say they notice Manziel has tried to stay in the pocket more often.

"I feel more this year that he hasn't scrambled as much and he has been more patient," Ogbuehi said. "He looks to throw more, too. He's always looking to make a big play with his arm, and that's good."

Perhaps the best aspect of this group is it has stayed healthy. The Aggies were fortunate to keep all five starters healthy last season, and that's been the case this year, too. It isn't a perfect group, but it is a smart, talented one that continues to improve every day.

"This year, we're still trying to get there but so far we're getting there," Ogbuehi said. "It's exciting so far what we've done in the little time we've had together."
The hot streak continues for Texas A&M.

The Aggies landed their fifth commitment of the month on Saturday when La Grange (Texas) High School 2014 offensive tackle Zachary Ledwik gave the coaches his pledge.

The 6-foot-5, 273-pound Ledwik had double-digit offers and picked up ones from both Texas and Texas A&M this month. After those two schools jumped into the picture, he acknowledged that he might speed up his timetable after originally planning to wait until the end of the summer.

After attending camps at both schools this month, Ledwik took unofficial visits to both schools this week. He visited Aggieland on Wednesday and said that after the trip, he believed that Texas A&M was where he wanted to be.


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The options for Manvel (Texas) High School standout Koda Martin were plentiful.

Whether it was choice of colleges or a choice of positions, the 6-foot-6, 247-pound four-star prospect had a chance to determine his future a number of ways.

On Saturday, he decided that his best option was one close to home and committed to Texas A&M.


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Prospects use Twitter in a multitude of ways when it comes to recruiting, including announcing their commitment or their lists of top schools.


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For Navarro College offensive tackle Carter Wall, the ideal scenario would be to finish his college football career in the Lone Star State.

He has at least one option to do so at the moment, but there are two programs in particular that he'd especially be interested in, if the opportunity arose.


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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Former Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel's name could be the first called when the NFL draft begins on Thursday.

If it does play out that way, it would be the latest in a long line of landmark events that have occurred since the start of last football season that have raised Texas A&M's profile and, as a result, helped the Aggies in recruiting.


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Texas A&M's Maroon-and-White spring football game was not Justin Dunning's first trip to Aggieland.

Like many high school football players in Texas, he has participated in the Texas state 7-on-7 championships, which were annually held at Texas A&M's Penberthy Rec Sports Complex until this year, when it will move to a new town. Dunning also attended the Aggies' home game against South Carolina State in 2012 on his own accord.

But his trip on Saturday was his first true recruiting visit to Texas A&M and in his words, it was a good one.


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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- On the surface, it's easy to surmise that there will be plenty of continuity in Texas A&M's offensive line as it transitions into a new season.

Three of five starters return from what was the strongest position group on the team in 2012.

But just because a few familiar names are still around doesn't mean things are the same. There is plenty of change for the Aggies' front five this spring.

Of the quintet, only one player -- junior left guard Jarvis Harrison -- returns to the same position he was in a year ago. The rest of the offensive linemen are stepping into a new role, either as a returning starter in a new position or as a first-time starter.

[+] EnlargeJake Matthews
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesJake Matthews might have been a first-round draft choice if he had entered the 2013 NFL draft, but instead he will move to left tackle for his senior season.
After having what was arguably the best offensive tackle tandem in the country last year, the Aggies wave goodbye to one of them (Luke Joeckel, who declared for the NFL draft) and welcome back another in senior Jake Matthews.

Matthews spent last season at right tackle but has moved to left tackle, Joeckel's old spot, to protect Johnny Manziel's blind side. Taking Matthews' place at right tackle is the Cedric Ogbuehi, who started at right guard a season ago.

"They've become comfortable, I think, pretty quickly as far as their footwork goes," offensive line coach B.J. Anderson said of the tackle tandem. "What we're working now is all the little things. Right now, Jake's changed his post hand. It's his left hand when he's on the right side and now on the left side he has to change his post hand. We've got to work through the little things.

"Ced's the same way. There's a lot more grass out there when you play tackle. But he's long and athletic and he's done a nice job and we'll just keep working on those little things."

Since the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Matthews has excelled as a right tackle, there are high expectations for him as he moves to the left side. Ogbuehi was a tackle in high school, so the move outside is natural fit for him as well.

"The biggest change is that I'm going against faster dudes, my sets are different," Ogbuehi said. "Other than that, it's the same thing really.

"I was excited and also sad that Luke left. But it's a big change for me to show what I can do, because I'm athletic. Playing guard, I didn't really showcase that. Playing tackle is going to show what I can really do and also show that I'm versatile, that I can play guard and tackle."

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