Texas A&M Aggies: SEC

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 27, 2014
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Less than two weeks remain until national signing day, and this was the second-to-last official visit weekend before Feb. 5. There were a couple of big decommitments, a few commitments and several key official visits. Here’s a closer look at all the latest recruiting news around the SEC.

Terry Joseph is leaving Nebraska to join the Texas A&M coaching staff.

Joseph spent two seasons under Bo Pelini as the secondary coach, helping the Huskers rank fourth nationally over that time in opponent pass-completion percentage.

Two sources close to the situation confirmed the move.

Nebraska cornerbacks Josh Mitchell and Daniel Davie thanked Joseph on Twitter after learning from the coach of his decision. Also on Twitter, A&M recruit Justin Dunning, a safety from Whitehouse, Texas, applauded Joseph’s hiring.

At Texas A&M he will replace Marcel Yates, the co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach who left recently for Boise State.

Joseph interviewed with A&M coach Kevin Sumlin on Saturday and told the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal-Star that he was offered “a lot of money” but that he needed to confer with Pelini before finalizing the decision.

Joseph earned $245,000 at Nebraska in his final year. Yates was paid $308,200 at A&M.

A Louisiana native, Joseph coached high school football in the state and played baseball at Northwestern (La.) State before coaching stops at Louisiana Tech and Tennessee.

He’s known as a strong recruiter. This change moves him closer to area with which he is familiar.

His departure leaves Nebraska to search for its fourth secondary coach in five years.

Leonard Fournette to visit Texas A&M 

September, 12, 2013
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NEW ORLEANS -- Running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), the No. 1-rated prospect in the Class of 2014, has planned a surprise recruiting visit to Texas A&M on Saturday for the Aggies’ meeting with Alabama, according to another top player.

No. 1-rated athlete Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) said he was informed by A&M coaches that Fournette would attend the big game. Noil is visiting the College Station, Texas, campus with teammate Gerald Willis III, No. 29 in the ESPN 300 and the third-ranked defensive end.


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Podcast: Talking Tide, Aggies and more

August, 13, 2013
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In the latest edition of the ESPNU College Football podcast, ESPN.com senior writer Ivan Maisel visits with SEC Bloggers Chris Low and Edward Aschoff about several topics, including the quarterback situation at Auburn, the importance of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and the the latest surrounding Texas A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Click here for the podcast.
It wasn't long ago that the terms "BCS Championship Game" and "Texas A&M" in the same sentence would seem absurd. To some, it still might.

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John David Mercer/US PresswireHeisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is one of the reasons expectations are so high in College Station.
But after a successful inaugural season in the SEC, producing the Heisman Trophy winner, finishing ranked in the top five for the first time in more than 50 years and being projected to start the season in the top five -- with said Heisman Trophy winner in tow -- has at least brought the idea into the conversation for some Aggies.

Every team has its own goals and standards that it feels it needs to meet to achieve ultimate goals. But there's certain criteria that has been consistent in recent years, criteria that every BCS champion has met since 2006, according to ESPN's Mike Rothstein.

If those criteria were to hold true again this season, what are the Aggies' chances of meeting them? Let's take a look:


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Texas A&M future power rankings 

June, 18, 2013
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It's a good time to be an Aggie. Considering where Texas A&M was in late 2011 -- in the midst of a 7-6 season, one in which the Aggies began the season ranked in the preseason top 10, in the middle of a coaching change and with the whole world wondering whether they knew what they got themselves into by going to the SEC -- things right now look pretty darn good.

After an 11-2 debut season as an SEC member, a Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback, a dominating win over Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl and a top-10 recruiting class in 2013, Texas A&M has picked up a ton of momentum and appears to be at the beginning stages of realizing the potential that lay in College Station, Texas, all along.


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SEC West will be tough climb for Aggies

April, 8, 2013
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Texas A&M crushed outsider expectations in its inaugural SEC season, finishing tied for second in the SEC West with a win over eventual BCS champion Alabama and an 11-2 record.

While the Aggies had tremendous first-year success and are bringing back many key players -- namely Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel -- they aren't necessarily the "team to beat," according to Mark Schlabach. There will still be a rugged battle for the top spot in college football's toughest division.

Read the full story here .
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M football has undergone a substantial amount of change in the last year.

Whether it's the national perception of the program, expectations, or any number of other things, this does not appear to be the same program college football fans knew a year ago.

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Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesComing off an 11-2 season and a Cotton Bowl victory, the expectations have never been higher for Texas A&M.
The day before the start of his second spring practice, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin fielded a question on whether he has taken time to reflect on how different things are now than they were at this time last year.

He paused for five seconds.

"How about that? That was five seconds," Sumlin said as a few reporters chuckled and he began to laugh himself. "We don't have time for that."

Sumlin's point was that no, he hasn't thought about how different it is. He's too concerned trying to make sure the Aggies keep up in the ultra-competitive SEC.

Whether Sumlin and the Aggies like it or not, things are different and people are expecting more from Texas A&M than they did a year ago. At this time last year, some thought the Aggies would be lucky to go 7-5 in their inaugural season as SEC members and a few even figured the Aggies would be .500 or worse, or as Sumlin said "get their brains kicked in."

An 11-2 campaign and a Heisman Trophy-winner later, expectations have taken a complete 180. Now observers around the country are pegging the Aggies as a preseason top-five team for 2013 [they were fourth in ESPN's recent Way Too Early Top 25] and contenders for the SEC West, SEC and perhaps even BCS titles.

The Aggies' second-year head coach is not talking that way publicly, but instead is trying to make sure the Aggies keep pace with their conference foes.

"We're nowhere near that stage," Sumlin said. "I've said that from every standpoint, from every aspect of this program, we're still playing catch-up to everybody in the SEC. From a recruiting standpoint, we're top-10 in the country [but] we're fourth in our own division; fifth, by one standard. So we're still moving there. You look at our depth, we wouldn't be moving a wide receiver to linebacker if we had enough guys."

Still, how will Sumlin and his coaching staff deal with the heightened expectations when it comes to his players? This will be one of the most anticipated seasons in A&M football history.

"This is my second season. I couldn't tell you how hyped any season has been here before," Sumlin said. "It certainly doesn't affect me and it doesn't affect these [players] because they haven't been here as long as [some people]."

So far, the increased expectations and attention haven't appeared to have an adverse effect on the Aggies' biggest star, quarterback Johnny Manziel. Sumlin said all the offseason attention and scrutiny has "nothing to do with his performance level." His teammates say the Heisman Trophy winner hasn't changed.

"[He's] still the same guy," running back Ben Malena said. "Still works hard, still the leader of our offense, still the quarterback of our offense. The off-campus situation, we really can't speak to that because we're not Johnny Manziel. But as a player and as a leader, he's still the same guy that won a Heisman last year."

But Sumlin said he'd rather have it high expectations than no expectations.

"That's part of it," he said. "I would rather it be that way than nobody talk about us at all. It helps recruiting, it helps everything. So that's OK."

Malena said that last year's success has led to an increased work ethic as the team looks to build on its 2012 campaign.

"When Coach Sumlin first got here last year, he told us that we had enough talent to beat anybody," Malena said. "Now that we know for a fact that we have enough talent and a new group of guys coming in, we know that this year we have a target on our back. The work ethic of the team collectively has stepped up even more. We know last year's success was last year's success but this year's success will be even harder because now you have a target on your back."

Decisions that defined A&M in 2012: No. 1 

January, 18, 2013
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This week, GigEmNation looks back at five decisions that helped define Texas A&M's 2012 season. These moments could be on or off the field or could have even come before the season, so long that they had a lasting impact on the Aggies' 2012 campaign. Today, we look at our pick for No. 1, A&M's decision to move to the Southeastern Conference.

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Patrick Green/Icon SMITexas A&M's move to the Southeastern Conference has paid off.
Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin called the school's decision to join the Southeastern Conference a "100-year decision" but it took less than a year for the Aggies to see the potential of what membership in the country's premier football conference could do for them.

They officially joined the SEC on July 1, 2012, just more than nine months after the decision became official. In six months, things have changed drastically, particularly for Aggies football.

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A&M success boosting in-state recruiting 

January, 15, 2013
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Texas A&M, the Southeastern Conference and Kevin Sumlin have made for a dangerous combination when it comes to recruiting.

Sprinkle in an 11-2 season and the Heisman Trophy winner (not to mention an unparalleled game-day atmosphere and quality facilities, both of which were already in place) and you have a package seemingly as attractive as any in the country.

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John David Mercer/US PRESSWIREKevin Sumlin has transformed Texas A&M, and recruits in and outside of Texas are taking notice.
This is where the Aggies are after an unforgettable and in some ways unbelievable 2012.

As a head coach, Sumlin has hired some dynamic recruiters on his staff, including receivers coach David Beaty, who has led the charge in Dallas-Fort Worth, and co-offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney, who has led the way in the Greater Houston area. The Aggies have also expanded their reach nationally, going into states such as Florida, California, Georgia and even Hawaii to score players.

When it comes to the state of Texas, the Aggies have seen the effects of their success pay off in the form of commitments. They have 34 currently, including five of the top 15 in the state. That's more than Texas, which has four of the top 15.

Before this year, that number was traditionally skewed in Texas' favor. The Longhorns scored eight of the top 15 prospects in the 2012 class to Texas A&M's two. In 2011, it was 5-0 Texas.

Longtime recruiting consultant and former college assistant coach Randy Rodgers, who has been an institution when it comes to recruiting in the Lone Star State and has been the recruiting coordinator at Texas and Illinois, has also seen the effect the Aggies' success has had.

"Everybody said 'Oh they're going to go in there and get killed in their first year,'" Rodgers said. "They far exceeded the expectation level."

Rodgers serves as a consultant for dozens of Division I schools around the country and he said the buzz about Texas A&M is evident.

That can be seen in the Aggies' efforts in the 2014 class. Texas A&M already has six commitments in the class and three of them had both Texas and Oklahoma offers. All of them are from within Texas. A fourth, ESPN Watch List cornerback Cedric Collins, had an Oklahoma offer and Texas interest.

And the Aggies show no signs of slowing down when it comes to the battle for top 2014 talent.

Sumlin hasn't been shy about stating what his program has to offer and its appeal to recruits in Texas -- and nationally. He said as much prior to the Aggies' blowout of Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.

"I think there is a clear choice in this region," he said.

High school coaches have noticed, as well.

"They're the hottest thing going on right now in recruiting," Cedar Hill (Texas) High School coach Joey McGuire said.


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Aggies' wave of momentum continues 

December, 12, 2012
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LA PORTE, Texas -- What a busy week it has been for the Texas A&M coaching staff.

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Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.com2014 linebacker Hoza Scott made it official on Wednesday and committed to Texas A&M.
In the span of seven days, the Aggies have accepted three commitments, all from highly-touted players. On Dec. 6 it was ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning who pledged. On Monday, the nation's No. 1 athlete and the top player in Texas, Ricky Seals-Jones, jumped on board. On Wednesday, ESPN Watch List outside linebacker Hoza Scott joined the fray, adding strength to the Aggies' 2014 class.

Since the Aggies' season ended on Nov. 24, the hits have just kept on coming. Nick Harvey on Nov. 26. Cameron Clear on Nov. 27. Shaun Nixon on Nov. 29. Ja'Quay Williams on Dec. 2. It seems like every week, or sometimes every couple of days, the Aggies are landing a new prospect.

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Strickland: Aggies catching up to Texas

December, 6, 2012
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With Texas A&M experiencing huge on-field success in its first season in the Southeastern Conference, the recruiting war the Aggies have with Texas is as hot as it has ever been. HornsNation's Carter Strickland looks at how the Aggies have become a real threat to the Longhorns. Here's an excerpt from Strickland's story:

The first -- and most important -- step, as it always is when preparing for battle, was to meet and understand the opponent.

Led by new coach Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M finished the regular season 10-2 including a win over No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

And the one Texas A&M faced welcomed the Aggies with unsuspected grace rippled with dismissive undertones. They were the Texas Longhorns, after all -- long set apart as the standard bearer for all the opulence that can be heaved upon college football programs. To show their wares to the Aggies merited no worry, for a pauper can rarely fathom how to gain what an aristocrat has behind the gates.

But the gates were held wide that day in 2002 as then-Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum, former Shell Oil CEO and major Aggies donor Jack Little, athletic director Wally Groff as well as three others were met at the Texas football facilities. A tour from the weight room to the office of coach Mack Brown ensued.

"[Brown's] office looked out over the field there, and he had a nice office area and then had a real nice living area where he could kind of entertain parents and recruits," Slocum said.

Slocum's office, he said, was in a parking garage, a desk with two stiff-backed chairs facing it. If a mother and father wanted to join their son to hear what Slocum had to offer, a folding chair would have to be wedged in.

"It was eye-opening to see what they had and we didn't," Little said.

Texas did have it all; oil drums full of money, national wins, a boardroom-to-barn-door coach, five-star recruits, everything but the sense to know it had just allowed a Trojan horse mission that would change the path of a program and a rivalry 10 years later.

Read the full story on HornsNation

Ricky Seals-Jones: TAMU on way up 

December, 6, 2012
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For the foreseeable future, Texas and Texas A&M won't play each other on the football field. But that doesn't mean the teams won't battle.

The war on the recruiting trail between the schools figures to be as intense as it has ever been and even more so as the Aggies' new coaching staff, new membership in the Southeastern Conference and success in that conference (not to mention a Heisman Trophy finalist in Johnny Manziel) makes them more of a factor in the eyes of recruits.

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Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comClass of 2014 linebacker Hoza Scott is expected to commit to Texas A&M soon.
Throughout the Mack Brown era at Texas, the Longhorns have traditionally been the signature program when it comes to recruiting the state. But after a 10-2 season and what appears to be a bright future in the SEC with Manziel and coach Kevin Sumlin leading the way, could there be a shift in the eyes of Texas high school football stars?

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Sumlin, Manziel, earn SEC honors

December, 3, 2012
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Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel earned top honors in their respective categories for the Associated Press' Southeastern Conference postseason awards.

Sumlin was named the SEC Coach of the Year for guiding the Aggies to a 10-2 season and a tie for second place in the SEC West. It is Sumlin's first year at Texas A&M after spending four years at Houston, where he was 35-17. Manziel, a Heisman Trophy candidate, earned SEC Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors after compiling an SEC single-season record 4,600 total yards and being responsible for 43 touchdowns.

Manziel was one of four Aggies to earn first-team All-SEC honors. Offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews and defensive end Damontre Moore also joined Manziel on the first team. Joeckel and Matthews started all 12 games and helped pave the way for the Aggies' high-powered offense, which ranked third in the country in total offense (552.3 yards per game) and third in scoring (44.7 points per game). Moore led the Aggies with 89 tackles, tied for third nationally in sacks (12.5) and tied for fifth in tackles for loss (20) while also starting all 12 games.

Chat wrap: Talking 'Johnny Football'

November, 30, 2012
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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 are off this week and are awaiting their bowl game destination, which appears to be the Capital One Bowl, according to ESPN's Brett McMurphy. Here's an excerpt from Friday's chat which included talk about potential bowl games, Heisman Trophy candidate Johnny Manziel and how the Aggies will close out the 2013 recruiting class:

Mike (San Diego): In the history of the Heisman only 3 defensive players have won and a freshman has never won. Do you think with those facts the Heisman is a given with Manziel's numbers, the conference he plays in, and the fact that he beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa?
Sam Khan Jr.: Mike, I don't know that I'd go so far to say "it's a given," but I think Johnny Manziel is the frontrunner at the moment and I don't know if anybody can knock him from that perch between now and when the ballots are due. Based on the buzz you hear from across the country, it seems like he has won over a lot of folks, despite his freshman classification. And I think it's because of the last couple things you mentioned: the conference he plays in (the SEC) and the "Heisman moment" he had against Alabama.

Mack Brown (Austin): Sam, if A&M returns Joeckel, Moore and Matthews next season, are they a top 5 team?
Sam Khan Jr.: Mack, if they return all three of those guys, they might be a preseason top-3 team. Seriously. That would be huge for Texas A&M if all three of those guys came back. You would be discussing the real possibility of a BCS championship game run. They were five points away from being in that conversation this year.

Patrick (Houston): What are our chances with RSJ and Isaac Savaiinaea? Should we be worried about UCLA?
Sam Khan Jr.: Patrick, I think RSJ is the Aggies' to lose. LSU is still recruiting him hard but I think Texas A&M has the edge. Savaiinaea I think is a true coin-flip. He could go either-or. He loved the atmosphere in College Station but it's a long way (nine-hour flight) from home. He also said UCLA, climate-wise, kind of reminded him of home. No matter who he picks, I won't be surprised. He's been pretty upfront and really likes both places.

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