Texas A&M Aggies: Christine Michael

Texas A&M had five players chosen in the 2013 NFL draft last week: offensive tackle Luke Joeckel (No. 2 overall, Jacksonville), running back Christine Michael (62nd overall, Seattle), defensive end Damontre Moore (81st, New York Giants), linebacker Sean Porter (118th, Cincinnati) and receiver Ryan Swope (174th, Arizona).

Who could be candidates to have their names called at this time next year, when the 2014 NFL draft arrives? Here are some names to know, both seniors and non-seniors:

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M wrapped up spring football on Saturday with the annual Maroon and White game. After 15 practices, there's plenty to take away, but here's five things we learned during the Aggies' spring:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Jerrod JohnsonThomas Campbell/US PresswireFormer Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson still has hopes of playing in the NFL.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- While several Texas A&M NFL draft hopefuls ran routes and caught passes, the throws were from a face familiar to Aggieland.

One by one, the crisp, well-spun tosses from former Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson fell into the hands of guys like Ryan Swope, Christine Michael, Uzoma Nwachukwu and Kenric McNeal -- each of whom recently wrapped up their Aggie careers.

While Texas A&M's pro day on Friday at the McFerrin Athletic Center was a showcase for the Aggies' 2013 class of prospects, it was also a chance for Johnson to show his retooled throwing motion to the nearly 50 NFL personnel on hand, representing all 32 NFL teams.

(Read full post)

Ryan SwopeThomas Campbell/US PresswireRyan Swope had an impressive season, and also impressed during his pro day.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Most people might have been surprised by his 40-yard dash time at the NFL scouting combine, but Ryan Swope wasn't.

Neither was his head coach at Texas A&M, Kevin Sumlin.

After putting together impressive testing marks at the scouting combine, the 6-foot, 206-pound receiver, who broke several school records while at Texas A&M, gave all 32 NFL teams an up-close-and-personal look at just how skilled and athletic he is during Texas A&M's pro day on Friday at the McFerrin Athletic Center.

The receiver, who ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash at the combine, the second-best time of all players there, didn't test again but did positional drills, catching passes from former Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson. Swope apparently impressed in that regard as well.

"When you look at him, watching his athleticism, watching him run around when he runs routes, I thought that was impressive to see," Oakland Raiders head coach and former Texas A&M player Dennis Allen said. "You can see it on tape, his toughness and his love of the game. But getting the chance to see him in person and see his athleticism was impressive."

(Read full post)

SEC sends several RBs to NFL combine

February, 19, 2013
2/19/13
1:51
PM ET
Christine Michael Brett Davis/US PresswireChristine Michael enters the NFL combine ranked No. 9 among running back prospects.
Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites will look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins Friday in Indianapolis. Today: Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.

Texas A&M Aggies


Texas A&M's best draft-eligible talent wasn't at the offensive skill positions, but the Aggies offer some nice players who will hear their names called at some point during the NFL draft. Perhaps the Aggies' two best offensive players were redshirt freshmen in quarterback Johnny Manziel and receiver Mike Evans, both of whom appear to have NFL futures in the long run. Meanwhile, these two players who produced impressively during their careers at Texas A&M, are worth keeping an eye on:

(Read full post)

Position breakdown: Running backs 

February, 14, 2013
2/14/13
11:30
AM ET
Before the 2012 season began, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin told any media member who would listen that the Aggies planned to use all three scholarship running backs they had at their disposal throughout the season.

That statement turned out to be true as Ben Malena, Christine Michael and Trey Williams all saw work.

[+] EnlargeBen Malena
Spruce Derden/US PresswireBen Malena ended the Aggies' season as the starter at tailback.
With Michael having graduated and preparing for the NFL, the Aggies return two players from the trio in Malena (who started nine games) and Williams. And that backfield will become even more crowded this fall when sophomores Tra Carson and Brandon Williams join the mix.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Season report card: Texas A&M

January, 24, 2013
1/24/13
11:30
AM ET
It's time to grade Texas A&M's first season in the SEC:

OFFENSE: Remember how the Aggies' offense was supposed to struggle without Ryan Tannehill running things and a redshirt freshman replacing him at quarterback? Yeah, that really worked out. Thanks to the minds of Kevin Sumlin, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury and a Heisman Trophy winner in Johnny Manziel, the Aggies ran over most of their new opponents in 2012 with the SEC's top offense. Texas A&M averaged a league-high 558.5 yards per game (third nationally). The Aggies also led the SEC in rushing (242.1), passing (316.5) and scoring offense (44.5). A&M registered more than 400 yards in 12 games and more than 600 yards in seven games. Johnny Football became the first freshman to ever win the Heisman and broke the SEC record for total offense with 5,116 yards (3,706 passing and 1,410 rushing). He also totaled 47 touchdowns and led the SEC in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns (21). Manziel had a special year, but he also got help from a dynamic receiving duo in freshman Mike Evans and senior Ryan Swope, who combined to catch 154 passes for 2,018 yards and 13 touchdowns. Uzoma Nwachukwu only caught 26 passes, but he added seven more receiving touchdowns. When Manziel wasn't darting past or slipping by defenders, A&M's running game mostly went through running back Ben Malena, who finished the year with 808 yards and eight touchdowns. Christine Michael added 12 more rushing touchdowns. A&M was also equipped with one of the top offensive lines in the country led by Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. Grade: A+

DEFENSE: The Aggies ranked seventh or lower in the SEC in the four major defensive categories, including ranking 12th in pass defense (250.7 yards per game). Teams scored 36 touchdowns on the Aggies and averaged 21.8 points per game. The Aggies surrendered 20-plus points in seven games, including allowing 57 points in a back-and-forth win over Louisiana Tech. A&M might have had some issues when it came to slowing down the yardage and points, but in its two losses, the Aggies allowed just 20 and 24 points. The Aggies gave up 390.2 yards per game and grabbed just 16 takeaways. Defensive end Damontre Moore became a real star. He was one of the top defenders in the country, tying for eighth nationally with 12.5 sacks and seventh with 21 tackles for loss. He also led the Aggies with 85 total tackles and nine quarterback hurries. The defense, which was relatively young in the back end, might have had a little more bend than the coaches would like, but it rarely broke down and held an Oklahoma offense to just 13 points in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. Grade: B-

OVERALL: The Aggies were supposed to struggle in their first year in the SEC, but flourished instead. Johnny Football was a major reason why, but Sumlin instilled an extremely tough personality during spring ball that carried over to the season. Alabama might have been crowned college football's national champion, but after a 41-13 beat down of Oklahoma, the Aggies made a solid case for being the nation's top team -- and A&M was the only team to top the Crimson Tide with a 29-24 win in Tuscaloosa. The defense needed to be bailed out by the offense at times, but even with no bye week during the regular season, the Aggies never seemed to slow down. If not for the opener against Louisiana Tech being postponed, the season might have been even better with a game under the Aggies' belt before taking on Florida. A&M wasn't as sharp against LSU, but was in serious contention for a BCS bowl game late in the year. Grade: A

Past grades:
The 2012 season was one to remember for Texas A&M.

The Aggies' first season in the Southeastern Conference was better than almost anyone could expect. And while much of the focus centered around a redshirt freshman -- Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel -- first-year A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin repeatedly praised his seniors for their leadership and buying in when they didn't have to.

[+] EnlargeChristine Michael
Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireRunning back Christine Michael was Texas A&M's top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2009.
As Sumlin often said this year, "They didn't sign up to play for us."

Sumlin was referring to the upperclassmen -- and, really, anybody who wasn't a true freshman or transfer who joined the squad this season -- who signed up to play for previous head coach Mike Sherman.

Many of the Sherman recruits (Manziel included) played critical roles in the Aggies' ability to go 11-2, finish tied for second in the SEC West and conclude the season ranked in the top five. When looking back four years ago at the 2009 recruiting class, roughly a dozen of them wound up being key players in the memorable 2012 season.

There were several diamonds in the rough. Among them were Ryan Swope, who was ranked the No. 116 athlete in the country in 2009. The running back from Austin (Texas) Westlake became a receiver at Texas A&M and eventually set the school's career receiving yardage record, among other marks, such as single-season catches, single-season receiving yards and career 100-yard games.

Another lightly heralded player was defensive tackle Spencer Nealy. Ranked 105th nationally at his position, the San Antonio Reagan product always brought high energy and effort and this season became a catalyst in the Aggies' transition to a 4-3 from a 3-4 the last two years. Nealy, a defensive end the previous two seasons, moved inside to defensive tackle and took on double teams week after week. The job he did inside helped facilitate the terrific season outside by defensive end Damontre Moore.

The other starting defensive tackle in 2012, who had a solid season of his own -- Kirby Ennis -- was also a member of the 2009 class.

One of the most important offensive players in 2012 not named Manziel was center Patrick Lewis, another class of 2009 recruit. As one of the "Louisianimals" as Lewis referred to himself and his fellow Louisiana natives, Lewis was the man who made the offense go, literally. The Aggies installed a high-tempo attack upon Sumlin's arrival, and dictating tempo was one of Lewis' primary jobs. He had to get to the ball before the ref spotted it and make protection calls as well. As one of the team captains, Lewis was a true leader.

The two senior linebackers who started for the Aggies, who also served as leaders for this year's team, were also part of the class of 2009: Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart. Both started all 13 games this year. Stewart was second on the team in tackles with 81, while Porter was fifth (66) and second on the team in tackles for loss (6.5).


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

GigEmNation's Sam Khan Jr. took questions from fans on Twitter for a mailbag in advance of today's AT&T Cotton Bowl clash between Texas A&M and Oklahoma. Here it is:

From Manziel Fan Club (@JFFootball2): Who do you think replaces EZ [Uzoma Nwachukwu] and Ryan Swope next year as starters. And [what will be] the role of Tra Carson and Brandon Williams next year?

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
John David Mercer/US PresswireQB Johnny Manziel has had a whirlwind month since winning the Heisman Trophy.
Sam Khan Jr.: I think Malcome Kennedy's emergence throughout the season means he'll certainly be a candidate to take Swope's role next season. The Aggies have a ton of receivers coming in the current recruiting class but I think Kennedy has already proven that he deserves time on the field and as long as he continues to show progress in the spring, summer and fall camp, it should be his job to lose. As for Nwachukwu's spot, I imagine Sabian Holmes, Ed Pope and Derel Walker are all possibilities. They're all young and unproven but they all have ability. That could also be a spot where one of the new recruits has a chance to fight for a job, perhaps someone like Ja'Quay Williams or Ricky Seals-Jones. As for Carson and Williams, my guess would be that Williams steps into a role similar to what Christine Michael had this year as the secondary back and a guy who can go between the tackles or hit the outside. I expect Ben Malena will still be the starter next year. Williams has a ton of ability though and if he can hold on to the football, I could see him push for a decent amount of carries. He's an explosive player. Carson, with his big body, my guess is he could have a role as a short-yardage guy.

From Rusty Woolley (@RWoolley7780): Is Johnny Manziel still wearing a knee brace after the injury scare against Mizzou? Has he said if there are any lingering concerns?

Sam Khan Jr.: The knee doesn't seem to be an issue. Manziel didn't appear to have a knee brace on during the open-to-the-media portion of Sunday's practice (practices since then have been closed) and I haven't heard anything said about it. It wasn't deemed serious at the time and it shouldn't be a factor come game time.

From Brian (@vonderlic): Are there any Army All-Americans or Under Armour All-Americans that you expect to commit to A&M? I've read comments from people speculating.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Grading the positions: Running backs 

December, 4, 2012
12/04/12
1:00
PM ET
In the weeks leading up to Texas A&M's bowl game, GigEmNation will take a look back at how the Aggies performed position-by-position and give each group a grade based on that performance. Today, we look at the running back position.

GradeHighlights: Junior Ben Malena emerged as the go-to back this season, leading the running backs in rushing yards (752 yards on 130 carries) and adding 100 receiving yards 16 receptions. He was not only an asset with the ball in his hands but also without, doing well with blitz pickups in pass protection and even playing on special teams, covering kickoffs and punts. The 5-8, 195-pound junior proved to be a good fit for the Aggies' offensive scheme. Senior Christine Michael led the backs in rushing touchdowns with 12 and true freshman Trey Williams showed flashes of his ability when he got the ball, averaging 5.7 yards per carry and leading the running backs in receiving yards, (171 on 12 catches). Williams also handled kickoff return duties.

Lowlights: Michael's senior season didn't turn out as originally envisioned. He started two games (the opener and the regular season finale) and missed one because of a suspension (violation of team rules). He finished with 88 carries, second among the running backs but did lead the team in touchdowns. While all three backs saw action this season, there were some early-season struggles as the backs and the offensive line adjusted to thenew scheme. Eventually, the Aggies got it going.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Focus on '14: Running backs 

November, 20, 2012
11/20/12
4:00
PM ET
GigEmNation is taking a weekly position-by-position look at the 2014 recruiting class as it relates to Texas A&M, who the Aggies are targeting, as well as 2013 commits and who on the roster will graduate. Today, we look at the running backs:

2013 commits: James White (Pearland, Texas/Dawson), Alex Sezer (Orange, Texas/Little Cypress-Mauriceville). Notably, Sezer will likely move to cornerback when he arrives at Texas A&M.

Running backs who will graduate: Christine Michael

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

3 Up, 3 Down: A&M 47, Sam Houston 28 

November, 18, 2012
11/18/12
8:00
AM ET
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M took care of business against FCS opponent Sam Houston State with an easy 47-28 win. Let's look at the good and the bad from the No. 8 Aggies' victory:

THREE UP

[+] EnlargeUzoma Nwachukwu
Bob Levey/Getty ImagesUzoma Nwachukwu caught four passes for 160 yards and an 89-yard touchdown against Sam Houston State.
1. Uzoma Nwachukwu and Mike Evans: Nwachuwkwu, a senior receiver, hasn't always been a go-to guy this season. But on Saturday he had a big day, catching four passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. His 89-yard touchdown reception on the Aggies' first offensive play of the second half showed his hands and his speed and why he is still a good weapon in this offense. Evans looked as healthy as he has in weeks, showing the explosion that has made him a go-to target for quarterback Johnny Manziel all season. The redshirt freshman receiver caught six passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns and caught passes of 33 and 20 yards.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Johnny ManzielJohn David Mercer/US PresswireJohnny Manziel stunned the college football world as he led the Aggies past Alabama.
Texas A&M did what many thought they couldn't, going into Tuscaloosa, Ala., and stunning the nation's No. 1-ranked team by pulling out a 29-24 victory over Alabama on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It was a game with a lot of twist, turns and thrills for both squads. Let's see the good and the bad for the No. 15 Aggies in their win:

THREE UP

1. Johnny Manziel: The redshirt freshman quarterback might have just thrown himself fully into the Heisman Trophy race with his performance. He finished 24-of-31 passing for 253 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. On the ground, he had 92 yards on 18 carries and even showed the speed necessary to get away from the Crimson Tide's vaunted defense on occasion. He also made some big-time throws from the pocket.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

GigEmNation writer Sam Khan Jr. chatted with readers on Friday about Texas A&M football and recruiting. Here's the full transcript of the chat. The Aggies have a showdown with No. 1 Alabama on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Here's a sampling from the chat:

Josh (DFW): Chances the Ags pull off the upset tomorrow? If they play all out for all four quarters (especially the D), keep their foot on the gas, and play relatively mistake-free football, I like their chances.
Sam Khan Jr.: The key term in your prediction is "mistake-free." That's what they have to be. They could have beaten LSU if not for the turnovers. In some instances, LSU had something to do with that, but there were also some unforced errors by the Aggies. I think they have a decent chance. If I was putting an arbitrary number on it, I'd say 35 percent. They have to be able to run the football, hit some pass plays downfield and not turn it over. On the flip side, they'll have to be like they have been all year on third down and get off the field and that means that defensive front is going to have to shoot the gaps and not let the Alabama O-line dominate. But I wouldn't rule out their chances. The Aggies are a pretty good team.

Evan (CS): Outside of Johnny, who will need to have a big game for the Ags to pull off the upset?
Sam Khan Jr.: I think the interior offensive linemen: Patrick Lewis, Jarvis Harrison and Cedric Ogbuehi. The Aggies have to be able to run the ball to keep the Crimson Tide honest. They don't have to be great and run for 200 yards necessarily, but enough to where they can move the chains and keep the offense going. The Tide defensive line is big and strong and it's going to be up to those guys to win some battles up front and help find some running room for Ben Malena and Christine Michael.

Rene (College Station): Why doesn't Johnny get more run in the Heisman talk? He is the most exciting player in the country and is putting up stats better than most of the other competition in the SEC no less.
Sam Khan Jr.: Raif, probably because he doesn't have a signature win yet. He has some great plays and some amazing statistics but against the Aggies' two toughest opponents (Florida and LSU) that didn't happen and the team lost both games. Wins, and more importantly signature wins, matter. The way he can get more run is to beat Alabama this week and have a good game in the process. If that were to happen, he'd probably be at or near the top of the conversation.

Garett (Houston): How many big-time recruits do you think we can convince to come to Aggieland if we win tomorrow?
Sam Khan Jr.: Garett, I don't think recruits necessarily make decisions based on a team winning or losing a single game. That being said, an A&M win would go a long way in changing the way the public (recruits included) perceive the Aggies. It would send a message that they're immediate contenders now and potential SEC champions in years to come. That would be huge in recruiting.

Prediction/matchups: A&M vs. Alabama 

November, 9, 2012
11/09/12
2:00
PM ET
Alabama 31, Texas A&M 23

This game is intriguing on several levels. For starters, the matchup of Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel against the big, fast, athletic Alabama defense will be one to watch. The Crimson Tide are coming off an emotional, hard-fought win at LSU last week. How Nick Saban's team will deal with the Aggies' up-tempo offense should be compelling. And LSU's offensive success gives the Aggies reason to believe that they'll be able to move the ball and score as well. However, the Crimson Tide's stellar offensive line and good running game might be too much for the Aggies defense, which is limited on depth. The Aggies could have some success early on both sides of the ball, and don't be surprised to see Texas A&M jump out to a quick lead early, as they did against Florida and LSU, but the Crimson Tide could wear down the Aggies defensively in the late stages if they get the running game going. And Manziel's two lowest single-game rushing totals came against the likes of LSU and Florida. Look for the Tide to keep him from exploding in the running game.

Players to watch: Jarvis Harrison and Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Blue Chip Battles: ESPN 300 Update
National recruiting reporter Jeremy Crabtree breaks down the top three recruiting tugs-of-war for uncommitted four- and five-star recruits.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

SEC SCOREBOARD

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