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Aggie Websider Tidbits
Well, we're just two weeks from the start of fall training camp and I'm glad SEC media days is over. It's good to see the coaches and players talking, but that's all it is…talk. But what's the internal buzz and where is this team heading into fall workouts?
The one position that will be in flux this fall is the receiver position. Not only did the team lose a lot of talent, but they also added a lot of talent. Interesting that I was dismissed when I've been telling many of you that Derel Walker has the potential to be a very good collegiate receiver this fall after seeing flashes in the fall and spring. Early in the summer, I heard a few minor mentions about Walker looking good. The chatter has gotten louder in recent weeks, and those close to the team think he'll be very much in the mix and will be a nice compliment to Evans on the other side. I'm also hearing good things about Malcolme Kennedy in the slot.
Sure, losing Ryan Swope, Uzoma Nwachukwu, and Kenric McNeal generates questions in 2013, but i've heard positive feedback on every incoming wr freshman which includes Ricky Seals-Jones, Kyrion Parker, Jeremy Tabuyo, and Quiv Gonzalez. Even with Sebastian LaRue coming in for the second summer session just a couple of weeks ago, I've been told he has the goods…speed, quickness, hands, etc. And we haven't even mentioned Jaquay Williams, who I said last spring was the most physically-gifted receiver on the roster (RSJ will give him a run for his money on that title in the fall). He was a little overwhelmed in the spring, but he's getting more comfortable in drills and his talent is starting to rise to the top. Add in veterans LeKendrick Williams and Sabian Holmes, and I'm not worried in the least who will catch Johnny Manziel's passes and make big plays. The position will be even stronger in 2013.
Sticking with this theme, those outside analysts listing the offensive line as a concern due to the loss of Luke Joeckel have done zero homework on Cedric Ogbuehi. I'm hearing he's having a very productive offseason and there's no concern at right tackle. In fact, he tests as well as Joeckel and Matthews. Many think with a good showing in 2013 at tackle, he has the measurables to be a first rounder.
We talked about the defensive tackle position in my last update, so let's talk defensive end. People keep holding out for Brandon Alexander to break-out, and he still may, but there doesn't seem to be much buzz surrounding his offseason and Coach Sumlin has mentioned several times at Aggie Club meetings in recent weeks that "he has a ways to go." Tyrell Taylor is considered the quickest and best pure pass rusher on the team, but weight will likely limit his action to spot duty in passing situations. Brother Tyrone is bigger and he showed flashes in the spring, but not many people have a strong opinion yet of what they expect from him in August. A lot of people are buzzing about Daeshon Hall quickly putting on good weight this summer. He's up to 245 pounds. I'm not sure that makes him ready to play in 2013, but it's always good when your 6-foot-6 DE is able to gain weight. That could leave senior Nate Askew as the possible solution at the rush end spot. The surprise of spring camp, Askew put aside his career at receiver and went all in at DE. And it appears he hasn't let up in the offseason. He's supposedly up to 240 lbs. and he's one of the best athletes on defense. I'm hearing that the staff thinks he will be a factor and could be the early season favorite to win the position. Sumlin has even mentioned him by name in several of his Aggie Club speeches.
On the other side, people are feeling much better about Julien Obioha's physical situation. He's back to 100% and does not show any rust or ill-effects of the injury that was feared to be possibly career-threatening six months ago. That talk is gone. Gavin Stansbury is still plugging away and slowly improving. He'll be a suitable second rotation guy.
In my opinion, Askew could be the key to success and depth at the hybrid rush position. He has the athleticism to be a playmaker, and if he can deliver that leaves the Taylor brothers and Hall competing for some snaps in the rotation.
If Price can mold the young DL(and i put askew in that category despite being a senior) into a functional unit, then I don't have many more questions about this 2013 team. Linebacker is the last spot that has some question marks and I'll talk about the backers in my next installment.
A&M will have its last one-day camp tomorrow and several big names are expected. Arguably the top player in the state, DE Myles Garrett, is expected to be in town for the first time since the spring. Long thought to be an A&M lean, Garrett has shied away from the recruiting spotlight rarely speaking to recruiting services and not a regular participant at these major elite combine events. For that reason, Aggie fans who live by the "no news is bad news" are a bit nervous. But if Garrett shows up as planned, that should put some minds at ease. Given his stature and leverage with all of the national offers, I doubt he will pull the trigger after tomorrow's visit, but who knows? He's the mystery man at this point…but he is also a very important man. Not only is DE a priority position, but with A&M seemingly in hot pursuit of many high profile prospects that will likely wait until after the high school season, it is imperative to keep the momentum in the state by landing a highly-rated guy that has been a lean for months.
Another 2014 offer guy who will be in for the camp is newton rb Kevin Shorter. This guy is pure speed…a legit 4.3 guy although he's pretty much a plant and go up-field runner. Not much wiggle to him. He participated last week at LSU's camp, and the Tigers offered and received a commit from another RB and with Miles still going after No. 1 RB Leonard Fournette, Shorter is off the table. So it's down to A&M and Arkansas for now, and I do believe the Aggies have the lead. In fact, this will be interesting to say the least. A&M will need to walk a fine line with Shorter, as I'm not so sure they are ready to take his commit if he decides to pull the trigger on this trip. In talking to long-time A&M RB commit Shaun Nixon at last week's State 7-on-7 Tourney, he made it pretty clear that the only way he starts looking around at other schools is if A&M takes another running back. He wants to be the only RB in the class. Now, for discussion's sake, let's assume A&M is willing to take that risk, the other complicating factor is California 5-star RB Joe Mixon ho announced this week that Texas A&M is in his top 5 and he'll take an official visit to Aggieland for the Alabama game. Hey, the staff has to take a shot at a 5-star difference maker. So, do they try to slow play Shorter while they figure out what to do with Nixon and see if they can reel in Mixon, or do they make the play to take Shorter knowing it could jeopardize Nixon, and still pursue the California 5-star? I'm guessing they will try to walk a fine line and schedule an official visit after September 14 and buy more time on Mixon. This one will be interesting to watch.
Meanwhile, the Texas recruiting services are already calling 2015 the year of the longhorn and pushing the perception that Mack Brown and his new recruiting operations staff are primed to clean-up the state with the juniors. That's why it is important for the Aggies to make a strong impression with a handful of high-profile 2015's this weekend.
The big fish that already have an offer or will likely receive an offer include:
LB Malik Jefferson, Mesquite Poteet (Top 5) already offered
RB SoSo Jamabo, Plano West (Top 10) already offered
WR Tyron Johnson, Warren Easton (New Orleans) (No. 1 WR in La)
DB Willie Sykes, Spring (Top 20) possible offer
OL Connor Dyer, Mesquite Horn (Top 25) expect offer
OL Trevor Elbert, Rockwall-Heath (Top 25) expect offer
DL Duvanta Lampkin, Cy-Falls (Top 30) possible offer
I saw Malik Jefferson at the State 7-on-7 Tourney and he's most impressive physical specimen you'll see at age 16. Texas recruiting services have been overly optimistic in reporting the Longhorns in the early lead. When I spoke to him last month, he's definitely feeling the Aggies and this weekend will go a long way to set the table for the fall.
Soso Jamabo hasn't talked much about texas a&m, so it will be interesting to get his reaction about the facilities and campus. A&M will need to make a big impression. Tyron Johnson is stud WR athlete from Louisiana. A&M has done a good job getting his attention early, but we all know the routine here with LSU. Sykes is one to watch. If he shows well and gets an offer, he could be someone that possibly jumps on the early offer.
Rockwall-Heath OL Trevor Ebert is close with former teammates Jordan Points and Jay Arnold. He is someone that can get an early offer, as well as Mesquite Horn OL Connor Dyer. Cy-Falls DL Duvanta Lampkin is supposed to be at the camp, but will likely not workout. Interesting, because I think he'll need to show that his first camp performance was an anomaly before A&M offers. There will be plenty of other recruits there, but these are the elite headliners.
In other random notes, it appears that Notre Dame has filled up at OL and have moved on from Kansas OL Braden Smith. It's looking more and more that this one may likely come down to TCU and Texas A&M. His older sister attends TCU.
College recruiting is going through its most hectic and most important period right as we speak. The July Evaluation period started July 10 and runs about two weeks. This is really the home stretch of evaluation for all college coaches and in the following weeks the final offers for the early signing period will go out and official visits in September will be set. I'll get an update once the staff comes home from the road, but a few nuggets I can give you. I know it seems like a longshot, but 2014 wing a national Top 30 prospect Justise Winslow (son of UH Ricky Winslow) is still talking to the A&M staff despite Duke, UNC, Arizona, and Louisville among others are recruiting him hard. And I've been told that Winslow has signed up for an official visit for the Alabama weekend on September 14. I think everybody knows the odds here, but if an elite recruit wants to come for one of his five visits, then you roll out the red carpet and take your shot.
I'm sure there are a few other visits scheduled, but the other visit set-up that I've heard is Hokes Bluff, Alabama 7-foot center Isaac Haas. The Scout.com four-star center is scheduled to visit September 7 weekend. The Aggies actually have a pretty decent shot here. He also has trips scheduled to UCLA and Purdue and is looking at Vandy, Wake Forest, and Wichita State for another visit. I'll call him when he gets back off the road in a week.
Mansfield point guard Alex Robinson still has A&M high on his list but he has performed well this summer so the Aggies will surely have new competition to deal with when visits roll around this fall. A&M should definitely get a visit. The other name I've heard where the staff feels they are going to sneak up on some people Philadelphia point guard JaQuan Newton. We'll keep an eye on him and give him a call, but I haven't see him list A&M much in other updates.
Others that A&M is in the hunt for include four-star Houston post Khadeem Lattin and San Antonio post Ben Lammers. Lammers is a legacy, and I think A&M will get an official visit. However, the fact that his dad is an Aggie will likely not play as big of a role as we once thought a couple of months ago. Shooting guard from Arlington, Nick Babb, was given a soft offer when he visited last month. My sources felt the Aggies could have closed the deal with the 3-star shooting guard had they pushed, but they want to wait and see what they uncover in July before pushing hard for any commits.
Anyway, we'll get a new list of targets in a couple of weeks when the staff reconvenes after the evaluation period. FYI, I've heard the staff is tentatively planning for three spots at the moment. There will be two seniors graduating and as with any basketball program these days, there will likely be another spot open up along the way in the coming year. Kourtney Roberson plans to graduate next spring and he could leave early. If you recall, he redshirted and has been a A&M for four years. There's no plan at all, just that the possibility is there that he could move on once he graduates.
Finally, I received an update on Tony Trocha in talking to his mentor in Houston. It seems he has the test score, and the compliance/academic people at A&M feel he's good to go based on their interpretation of his transcript, but the NCAA Clearinghouse keeps coming back with questions asking for clarification on some of his coursework at Colombia. The problem now is the school in Colombia. Apparently, this is a legitimate school and not a basketball factory. So with each additional request by the NCAA Clearinghouse, the officials at the Colombia school have gotten increasingly frustrated with the time and resources expended to continue to provide additional documentation and paperwork. So while everybody at A&M feels good with their interpretation of the transcript and test scores, the NCAA has asked for another round of documentation and the school has now refused to respond saying they have provided all of the necessary documentation and paperwork several times over.
So, Trocha has returned home to see if he can straighten things out with the school. At this point, the timing is in question. Can they get this done before the fall semester. I was told by a source close to admissions that the worst case scenario is that he'll be cleared for the spring semester but that there's still a better than 50-50 chance that they will get this case completed with the clearinghouse before the fall semester.
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