Texas A&M Aggies: Dustin Harris

Why A&M has so much youth on defense

October, 25, 2013
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The words "youth" and "inexperience" are frequently used to describe the Texas A&M defense this season.

The struggles are significant. The Aggies rank near the bottom of the FBS in most defensive statistical categories. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the five teams that have allowed more yards per game than the Aggies -- New Mexico State, Idaho, California, Nevada and Indiana -- have a combined record of 8-27.

Texas A&M is fortunate enough to have a 5-2 record (2-2 in the SEC). It certainly helps to have one of the nation's most high-powered offenses and a reigning Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback (Johnny Manziel).

For defensive coordinator Mark Snyder and his staff, it has been a challenge from the start of the season. Suspensions, injuries and ineffectiveness are all to blame.

The Aggies currently have 11 freshmen in their defensive two-deep depth chart. Two true freshmen (defensive tackle Isaiah Golden and linebacker Darian Claiborne) are starting. The four defensive line first-team spots include Golden and two sophomores. At linebacker, a former receiver who moved to linebacker this offseason (Nate Askew) is the starter at strongside linebacker. Of the seven linebackers on the Aggies' two-deep, only one (Steven Jenkins) started a full season at the position before this year.

Head coach Kevin Sumlin's first signing class that was completely under his watch had 32 members, 18 of whom were on defense. Of those 18, a dozen have already played this season.

But how did the Aggies get to this point, playing this many freshmen and newcomers? There are some juniors and seniors on the field, but there aren't nearly as many as there were a year ago when the Aggies went 11-2 in their debut season in the SEC.

In 2012, the Aggies were fortunate to have the benefit of some good leaders on defense and others who were productive. At linebacker, Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart both provided leadership and production. Along the defensive line, Spencer Nealy made the move from defensive end to defensive tackle effectively despite not having the ideal size for the position. Steven Terrell was a steady and heady player at free safety. All four of those players were seniors and part of the 2009 recruiting class. So was Dustin Harris, who didn't always start but played plenty at cornerback and was the team's primary punt returner.

One defensive player still remains from that 2009 class: defensive tackle Kirby Ennis, who started last season and this year but suffered a season-ending knee injury on Sept. 28 against Arkansas. But last year's A&M starting defense was more than half made up of what turned out to be a solid recruiting class on the defensive side of the ball.

So to understand why A&M is in the position it is now, take a look at the recruiting classes on defense since then:
  • In 2010, the Aggies signed seven defensive players and two more that were offensive players but eventually moved to defense. Defensive end Damontre Moore turned out to be a star, but declared for early entry into the 2013 NFL draft with a year of eligibility remaining. For a team that's lacking in its pass rush (only three FBS teams have fewer sacks than Texas A&M's seven this season) a guy like that could help. Of the remainders in that class, three are starting: Toney Hurd Jr. at nickel back, Gavin Stansbury at defensive end and Askew, who was recruited and spent his first three years at receiver, at strongside linebacker. Two others (defensive tackle Ivan Robinson and quarterback Clay Honeycutt, who's now a reserve safety) are playing but not starting. Nehemiah Hicks was considered to be either a defensive end or tight end and became a tight end. The other two players in the defensive class are no longer on the team.
  • The 2011 class -- the final class signed by former head coach Mike Sherman -- brought 13 defensive players. Deshazor Everett, a cornerback with ability to play safety, is currently the defense's best player. Safeties Howard Matthews and Floyd Raven and linebacker Steven Jenkins also emerged as starters out of that group. One of the big fish landed late in that class, defensive end Brandon Alexander, has rarely played. He's now getting some playing time at tight end. Linebacker Donnie Baggs entered this season as the starting middle linebacker but is now a reserve. Tyrell Taylor is rotating at defensive end. The rest of the group hasn't made any impact at all. Five players in that group are no longer with the program.
  • The 2012 class, the first one Sumlin signed after essentially two months on the job, had some holdovers that committed to the program under Sherman. It is a mixed bag. Four of those players are starting as either true sophomores (Julien Obioha at defensive end, Alonzo Williams at defensive tackle and De'Vante Harris at cornerback) or in one case, a senior (cornerback Tramain Jacobs, who was a junior college transfer). Defensive end Tyrone Taylor, brother of Tyrell, gets some playing time at defensive end. Edward Pope, who was a receiver/defensive back, is playing receiver for the Aggies. A car accident took away one member from that class -- defensive tackle Polo Manukainiu, who died in a crash in July and is being honored by the team every week this season. A spinal injury took away another member, linebacker Michael Richardson, who played as a freshman. He had successful surgery and was fortunate to not suffer any major physical issues, but is no longer playing football. Defensive back Kenneth Marshall, though on the team, was not part of the 105-man roster during preseason training camp. Linebacker Jordan Richmond transferred to Navarro College in the offseason and one player in the class, defensive tackle Edmund Ray, never made it to campus because of qualifying issues.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- There were many pieces to the puzzle in Texas A&M's final defensive stand in its upset of the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide last November, but Aggies remember one thing best: the interception.

Deshazor Everett's interception of A.J. McCarron at the goal line with 1:36 remaining helped the Aggies secure a 29-24 upset of Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Life has changed significantly for Texas A&M football since then.

Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy. The Aggies finished the season in the top five of the postseason rankings for the first time since 1956. They came into this season with a preseason top-10 ranking, and should they win on Saturday in their rematch against Alabama, they will vault themselves into the BCS title game discussion.

[+] EnlargeDeshazor Everett
Thomas Campbell/USA TODAY SportsDeshazor Everett made the last big defensive play against Alabama last year, but not the only one.
Everett hasn't become a celebrity like Manziel as a result of the interception, but people do recognize him more often these days.

"I'm not going to say I got too much fame now, but more people know who I am," Everett said. "As the season keeps progressing, people keep recognizing me across campus and on Twitter, Instagram and things. It hasn't blown up too much, but more people know me, definitely."

While the interception is the most memorable aspect of that final four-minute sequence, Everett pointed out that there were many other factors at work that led to that opportunity.

On the first play of that Alabama drive, McCarron found an open Kenny Bell for a 54-yard completion. But defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. chased Bell down from behind and tackled him at the Texas A&M 6-yard line.

Sean Porter and Kirby Ennis stopped a scrambling McCarron for no gain on first-and-goal. Ennis tackled Eddie Lacy for just a yard on the next play. And on third down, cornerback Dustin Harris might have made the second biggest play in that series, when McCarron scrambled from pressure and found open field, darting for the goal line. Harris collided with McCarron at the 2 to set up the fourth-and-goal play.

"They made a few plays, but I knew when we got down around the goal line that it was going to be about how bad our defense wanted it," Everett said. "As you see, everybody stepped up and made plays, got pressure on the quarterback and Dustin Harris stopped him [near] the goal line. A lot of people don't realize that. Toney Hurd made the saving tackle before Bell got into the end zone."

The interception didn't happen by chance. Everett and defensive coordinator Mark Snyder attributed it to weeks and weeks of practice.

The play that Alabama ran, flooding three receivers to the right flat, is a frequently used play for two-point conversions by teams across the country, according to Snyder. So the Aggies worked on defending it weekly. In this case, it was Amari Cooper and Bell who flooded the right side. Christion Jones, who lined up next to Cooper on the right side of the formation, appeared to run a short hitch route, not toward the right sideline like Cooper and Bell.

From the play design, it appeared that Cooper was supposed to pick Everett, which would leave Bell open. But Everett recognized the play, avoided the pick from Cooper and stepped in front of Bell.

"It was a two-point play that we've been working on every week up until that week," Everett said. "Coach [Snyder] was constantly making us run it and practice it in practice because, he said, everyone runs the play for a two-point play. Fortunately enough, they ran it as their fourth-down play and not a two-point play, and I just recognized it and jumped the route pretty much, and that's how it went."

Snyder was proud to see the Aggies' practice made for a perfect play in a crucial situation.

"We practice that every week," Snyder said. "It was great. Like I said after that game, it was one of the finest coaching moments I've had, because you see something that you actually work on come to fruition, and in a game like that, it was pretty special."

Everett wanted to run it back for a score to leave no doubt in the result but lost his balance after intercepting the pass, which was intended for Bell on a quick out route.

"I felt like everything went in slow motion after I caught it," he said. "I was trying to stay on my feet [laughs]. It was a lot of excitement. I just wish I would have returned it, so I wouldn't have to worry about the offense getting in punt formation [later] or being pushed back so far on the goal line. But, it was a good play. I felt good, definitely."

And having a player like Everett back for the rematch is huge for the Aggies.

"He brings a wealth of experience," Snyder said. "He's been on the big stage, he's played against the team we're getting ready to play against and performed pretty well, not great, but pretty well. And it's great to have him back because this corps of receivers will be the best we see all year. They're really good, and they're really fast."

Position breakdown: Special teams 

February, 28, 2013
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While there was one area where inconsistency reigned, special teams overall were solid for Texas A&M in 2012.

The kick and punt coverage units were good, and the Aggies were solid in the return game, particularly on punt returns. Punting was an area where the Aggies were solid as well.

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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Texas A&M Aggies Class of 2009 review 

January, 24, 2013
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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).


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Film Review: Cotton Bowl edition 

January, 7, 2013
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Johnny ManzielMatthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsTexas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel scrambles for a touchdown in the first quarter of the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma.

Texas A&M capped off its memorable first season as a Southeastern Conference member with a dominant 41-13 win over No. 11 Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl on Friday. The win gave the No. 9 Aggies an 11-2 record for the season and assured that they will finish with a top-10 ranking for the first time since 1994. Here's a look at three plays that helped the Aggies finish on the winning side against the Sooners:

Situation: Texas A&M ball, third-and-9 at the Oklahoma 23 (12:33 left, first quarter).
Score: Texas A&M 0, Oklahoma 0.

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Texas A&M 10: Post-Cotton Bowl 

January, 6, 2013
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Johnny ManzielMatthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsJohnny Manziel was the clear leader for Texas A&M this season.
Each week this season, GigEmNation ranked Texas A&M's top 10 performers of the season. After the Aggies' dominating 41-13 win over Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, here's a look at who we think shined brightest throughout the entire year:

1. QB Johnny Manziel
The redshirt freshman quarterback not only won the Heisman Trophy, but followed it up with a terrific performance in the Cotton Bowl, setting the bowl's record for total yards (516). He finished the year 5,116 total yards and 47 touchdowns.

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Grading the positions: Special teams 

December, 27, 2012
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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 conclude the series with a look at the special teams:

[+] EnlargeBen Malena
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesTexas A&M utilized players such as starting running back Ben Malena to find success on special teams.
Highlights: The first thought that might come to the mind of many Aggies when thinking about special teams is the inconsistency in the field goal department. But special teams is more than field goals, and there was a lot of good about Texas A&M in the third phase in the game. As a team, the Aggies ranked ninth in the nation in net punting (40.3 yard net average per punt). Punter Ryan Epperson didn't have enough punts to make the FBS leaders, but if he did, he would have ranked in the top 30 in gross average per punt (42.8 yards). The Aggies also were good covering kicks and punts. They ranked 17th in the nation in kickoff return yardage defense and 27th in punt return yardage defense. And senior Dustin Harris finished 11th in the country in punt return average (13.1 yards per return) and the Aggies ranked 12th as a team in the category.

Lowlights: The biggest lowlight was the aforementioned field goal struggles. Redshirt freshman Taylor Bertolet hit just 13-of-22 attempts, making field goals at a 59.1 percent clip. He was good inside the 30 (8-of-9 attempts) and from 50 or longer (3-of-4). It was from 30-49 yards that he was at his worst. He hit 2-of-9 attempts from that distance (1-of-6 from 30-39 yards; 1-of-3 from 40-49 yards). The inconsistency was frustrating for Aggies observers, especially considering his ability to hit from long range (he had a long of 54). On the bright side, he was good on kickoffs, recording 61 touchbacks on 96 kickoffs.

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Grading the positions: Cornerbacks 

December, 6, 2012
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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 cornerbacks.

GradeHighlights: In the biggest game of the year, it was a cornerback (Deshazor Everett) that made the biggest play, coming up with an interception of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron in the Aggies' 29-24 upset win over the then-No. 1 Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala. That play, in the context of that game, seemed to be a fitting sign of the cornerbacks' growth all season. There were some bumps in the road (big pass plays were yielded that allowed the Crimson Tide to stay within striking distance) but when the chips were down, the group made plays. Senior Dustin Harris morphed into a leader for the group and led the team in pass breakups with 10. Everett, who played in 11 of 12 games, had the task of going back and forth from corner to safety and handled it well, finishing with seven pass breakups and two interceptions. True freshman De'Vante Harris started seven games, a huge task for a true freshman at any position in the SEC and nickel cornerback Toney Hurd (who also spent time working at safety) played well when lining up at corner and tied with safety Steven Terrell to lead the entire secondary in tackles with 58.

Lowlights: There were some struggles early in the season when it came to tackling (defensive coordinator Mark Snyder called it "ankle-biting") that could be seen against Florida and in a big pass play or two against Arkansas. The Louisiana Tech game was a struggle as Aggies yielded a season-high 450 passing yards that day. As mentioned before, there were some big plays given up in the Alabama game as the Crimson Tide tried to stage a comeback. Some might point to the Aggies ranking 79th nationally in passing yardage defense as a sign of struggles, but it's worth noting that they had large leads on many teams early and some of those yards were compiled against reserves or in the midst of blowouts when the game was decided.

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- A year ago at this time, Texas A&M football was at an important crossroads.

The program sought out a new head coach, having dismissed Mike Sherman, who went 25-25 in four seasons there. The crosshairs in the process appeared to be set on Houston's Kevin Sumlin, who went 35-17 through four seasons in Houston and lifted the Cougars high into the national rankings in both 2009 and 2011.

[+] EnlargeMike Sherman
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesAt this time last season, Texas A&M was looking for a head coach after firing Mike Sherman.
The Aggies were coming off a 6-6 year (which would become 7-6 after a win over Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas), one that had high preseason expectations, including a top-10 ranking. A year that was supposed to be filled with success was instead marred with second-half collapses and a wondering about where things were headed. With the transition from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference on tap, the leadership felt a new direction was needed. Sumlin was eventually tabbed to lead the Aggies into the SEC -- and since then, things have drastically changed.

The last 365 days, give or take a few, have been transformative for the program. Sumlin has injected an energy and swagger into the program that has fueled the Aggies' 10-2 season. After graduating a top-10, first-round pick at quarterback (Ryan Tannehill), a redshirt freshman named Johnny Manziel has stepped in and shattered records and become a Heisman Trophy candidate. Texas A&M is ranked in the top 10 (No. 9) and the recruiting momentum that the Aggies are building is strong, as they're quickly becoming a premier destination for recruits by offering the combination of quality facilities, college football's premier conference and a chance to win in that conference.

What a difference a year makes.

Some of the things the Aggies accomplished this season seemed like pipe dreams at the start of the year. A potential Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback? Going into fall camp, Sumlin and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury had not even named a starter at the position, with redshirt sophomores Jameill Showers and Matt Joeckel battling Manziel.

Even for the quarterback himself, often called by his nickname, "Johnny Football," it's a little unbelievable.

"It’s crazy," he said "It’s so surreal for me to even be mentioned in the same category or in the same sentence as the Heisman Trophy. It would be a dream come true for me to even go to New York and sit down, after years and years of watching guys that I looked up to get dressed up and sit on the front row and hope that their name is called. So for me, it would be a dream come true and something that I would cherish forever."

While Manziel has played a major role in the Aggies' success, so has the leadership of the team -- and not just Sumlin and the coaching staff, but the senior class of players. Guys like linebackers Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart, safety Steven Terrell, defensive tackle Spencer Nealy, center Patrick Lewis, receivers Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu and cornerback/return specialist Dustin Harris have been a big reason the Aggies are a top-10 team this year.

For starters, Sumlin said, they bought in to what the new coaching staff was selling and the idea that they could be successful in the SEC, despite what others said.

"It really was just guys having faith; belief without proof," Sumlin said. "Coming into the year, we really didn't care what everybody else's expectations were ... I think that what these seniors have done is to really set the tone for how to do things away from Saturday. There was a big change in that type of culture."

Sherman said something interesting in his final news conference as the Aggies' coach, after flatly stating that he felt he didn't deserved to be fired.

"I feel like the program is definitely headed in the right direction and I hope the next coach appreciates the opportunity he's going to get to work with these players," he said.

Though some changes fueled this signature season, the first since 1998 in which the Aggies have won 10 games, it turns out Sherman was right.

While many had questions about what could be for the Aggies in the SEC, the players were confident. When asked after the final game of the season whether he could have imagined the season turning out the way it has, Porter took it a step further, demonstrating the confidence the team carried throughout the year.

"It's not as good as I thought it could be," Porter said. "Like Jonathan said, we thought we were going to win all of our games. We truthfully thought that. A lot of people were giving us crap about it at the beginning of the season. I remember going into SEC media day and all those guys in there were looking at me like we were going to be some kind of doormat or something, but this entire time we've had a lot of confidence, and we have confidence in the type of players that we have. I've said it since the beginning of the season: We have the same caliber of athletes as anybody does in the nation. I think this was a great season for us to come out and prove that, and A&M is just going to go up from here."

3 Up, 3 Down: Texas A&M 59, Missouri 29 

November, 25, 2012
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M closed out its regular season with a resounding 59-29 victory over Missouri on Saturday before 87,222 at Kyle Field. Let's look at the highs and lows from the victory:

THREE UP

1. 10 wins: The Aggies secured their 10th win, marking the first time since 1998 that Texas A&M has accomplished that feat. They finished 10-2 on the regular season and 6-2 in the SEC, good for a tie with LSU for second place in the SEC West.

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Texas A&M awards tracker: Week 8

October, 23, 2012
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Each week throughout the season, GigEmNation will take a look at the Aggies players who are on awards watch lists and how they fare. Here's a glance what each player has accomplished after the Aggies' 24-19 loss to LSU:

WR Mike Evans, Fr.: Biletnikoff
Evans caught 6 passes for 76 yards in the loss to LSU. For the season he still leads the Aggies in receptions (42) and receiving yards (625).

CB Dustin Harris, Sr.: Hornung
Harris had 3 punt returns for a total of 16 yards. His longest return was 11 yards. On defense, he finished with 4 tackles and a pass breakup. For the year, Harris ranks 14th in the nation in punt return average (14.4 yards per return). He also leads the Aggies in pass breakups with 9.

QB Johnny Manziel, Fr.: O'Brien
The redshirt freshman quarterback was named a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award on Monday. The O'Brien is an award for the nation's best quarterback. On Saturday he went 29-of-56 for 276 yards and 3 interceptions while rushing for 27 yards. For the season, Manziel is No. 3 nationally in total offense (379.9 yards per game), fourth in points responsible for per game (20.6) and 15th in passing yards per game(279.4). He's no. 1 among freshmen in all of those categories.

RB Christine Michael, Sr.: Maxwell, Doak Walker
Michael scored a touchdown for the second straight game and gained 27 yards on 8 carries. For the year he has 196 yards and 5 touchdowns on 49 carries.

DE Damontre Moore, Jr.: Hendricks
Moore led the Aggies in tackles again Saturday, recording 10. He also had 2 tackles for loss, a sack, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. He now leads the country in tackles for loss (17) and sacks (9.5).

WR Uzoma Nwachukwu, Sr.: Biletnikoff
Nwachukwu caught two passes for 44 yards against LSU. For the season he's fourth on the team in catches with 13 and has 203 yards and 4 touchdowns as well.

LB Sean Porter, Sr.: Bednarik, Butkus
Porter had 7 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, a pass breakup and a sack against the Tigers. For the season, Porter is third on the team in tackles (40), has 3 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

WR Ryan Swope, Sr.: Biletnikoff
Swope caught 10 passes for 81 yards in the loss to LSU. He's second on the Aggies in receptions (30) for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Texas A&M Awards Tracker: Week 7

October, 16, 2012
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Each week throughout the season, GigEmNation will take a look at the Aggies players who are on awards watch lists and how they fare. Here's a glance what each player has accomplished after the Aggies' thrilling 59-57 win over Louisiana Tech:

WR Mike Evans, Fr.: Biletnikoff
Evans was added to the Biletnikoff watch list on Tuesday after a strong first half of the season. Evans has caught a team-high 36 passes for 549 yards and two touchdowns. He has been quarterback Johnny Manziel's go-to guy so far this season and had four catches for 137 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown against Louisiana Tech. He's 22nd in the country in receiving yards per game (91.5).

CB Dustin Harris, Sr.: Hornung
Harris had two punt returns for 26 yards, including a long of 16, against Louisiana Tech. On defense, he had eight tackles, tied for second on the team, and had a pass breakup. For the season, he's averaging 15.7 yards per punt return (11th in the nation) and he leads the team in pass breakups with eight.

RB Christine Michael, Sr.: Maxwell, Doak Walker
Michael started the scoring off for the Aggies with a 40-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. That was his longest run of the night and he finished with 65 yards on 12 carries. For the season, he's third on the team in rushing yards with 169 and four touchdowns on 41 carries.

DE Damontre Moore, Jr.: Hendricks
Moore had a whopping 17 tackles to lead the team against the Bulldogs. In addition, he had 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and blocked a PAT attempt. He now has the team lead in tackles (52), tackles for loss (15) and sacks (8.5). He leads the nation in tackles for loss and is tied for second in sacks.

WR Uzoma Nwachukwu, Sr.: Biletnikoff
Nwachukwu caught two passes for 37 yards in the win over Louisiana Tech. For the season, he's fourth on the team in receptions with 11 for 159 yards and four touchdowns.

LB Sean Porter, Sr.: Bednarik, Butkus
Porter had six tackles, a half-tackle for loss, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry in the win over the Bulldogs. For the year, Porter is fourth on the team in tackles with 33 and he also has two tackles for loss, a half sack, a pass breakup and two quarterback hurries.

WR Ryan Swope, Sr.: Biletnikoff
Swope caught one pass for 5 yards and left the game in the first half after absorbing a hit from Louisiana Tech defensive back Craig Johnson. Swope did not return to the game after the hit. He is tied for second on the team with 20 catches for 299 yards and three touchdowns.

Staff prediction, matchups to watch 

October, 12, 2012
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Texas A&M 48, Louisiana Tech 27

[+] EnlargeColby Cameron
Troy Taormina/US PresswireLouisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron has not thrown a pick this season.
Louisiana Tech is a good team, but if the Bulldogs can't get stops, it's going to be a long night. The Bulldogs rank 119th in the country in total defense in passing defense and 106th in scoring defense. With Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's playmaking ability, the emergence of Ben Malena and the running game and the plethora of receiving weapons the Aggies have to choose from led by Mike Evans and Ryan Swope (not to mention an elite offensive line), expect the Aggies to pile up the points. And the Bulldogs haven't played a team as talented as the Aggies are on both sides of the ball. Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron hasn't thrown an interception this year and if he takes care of the ball like that again, it could be a closer game. But the Aggies likely have too much firepower for the Bulldogs here.

Player to watch: Donnie Baggs, Texas A&M

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Focus on '14: Cornerbacks 

October, 9, 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 begin with the cornerback position.

2013 commits: Noel Ellis, New Orleans Edna Karr; Tavares Garner, Manvel (Texas) High School

Cornerbacks who'll graduate: Dustin Harris

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National recruiting analyst Craig Haubert handicaps the chances any program catches No. 1 Alabama in the 2015 ESPN class rankings.
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