Saturday, July 26, 2014

Off-Season Recap

Fall camp is approaching very quickly and there has been a lot going on since my last post so here is a pretty quick recap....

2013 Bowl Game vs. Duke

We played in what turned out to be one of the most exciting bowl games of the year and got to watch Johnny orchestrate a 21-point come from behind win as his going away present.  He was incredible in the second half.  Just completely outstanding.

He finished the night with 382 yards and 4 TDs passing while adding another 73 yards and a TD on the ground. Senior, Travis Labhart, had 7 receptions, including 4 TDs and senior, Derel Walker, had 6 catches for 113 yards and a TD.

The defense was about as bad as I've ever seen in the first half but when the Ags needed stops late in the 4th quarter they got them.  Senior, Toney Hurd Jr., had a pick-6 to give the Ags the 52-48 lead with 3:33 remaining in the game and senior, Nate Askew, picked off another one on Duke's final drive to seal it.

That's really all that we need to remember about it.

2014 Recruiting Class

The 2014 recruiting class comes in as one of the best classes in school history and finished ranked #6 nationally.  It is headlined by three 5*s (WR Speedy Noil, QB Kyle Allen, and DL Myles Garrett) but also ten 4*s, six of which are on the defensive side of the ball.  The last two defensive signing classes have been excellent, which is desperately important.

Myles Garrett is going to be the next defensive star. If you can remember, back when C-Mike showed up to camp as a true freshman, he looked like a man among boys - Garrett is the same way - if you stuck him in an NFL locker room he wouldn't standout as the kid.

The bad news is that being #6 in the country only puts us third in the SEC West.  Crazyness.  The SEC had 7 of the top 10 signing classes.

2015 Recruiting Class

Normally, I don't talk about recruiting classes until signing day but I would be amiss to not mention how dominant Sumlin has been on the recruiting trail.  Barring some sort of catastrophic meltdown, it will actually be BETTER than 2014. 

It is currently ranked #2 nationally with a handful of uber-prospects in the pipeline that are strong leans but have not committed yet.  As in 2014, you see the defensive side of the ball getting stronger and stronger.

The class is headlined by the top defensive player in the state, Daylon Mack (5* DT), and the top offensive player in the state, KYLER MURRAY! (5* QB), the top DE in the state, James Lockhart (4* DE), and two of the top S in the state, Justin Dunning (4*) and Larry Pryor (4*).  Sumlin is also essentially handpicking our WR class.

I'm not sure that there has been a more highly anticipated recruit than Kyler Murray.  The Allen HS QB led his team to the State Championship as a sophomore and again as a junior with two undefeated seasons, he has as similar a style to Johnny as you will see, and he is a strong legacy - his father is QB Kevin Murray who led us to all those mid-'80s SWC championships. 

Spring Football

Spring practice was particularly quiet because Kyle Field was under construction and there was very little access given to the media.  Normally, there are two or three scrimmages that are open to the public, including the M&W Game, but none could be had this year.

From all accounts, Speedy Noil is going to be a superstar.  Frank "Nacho" Iheanacho is another true freshman who is also going to be a monster for whoever is throwing the pigskin.

At QB, neither Kenny Hill or Kyle Allen pulled away with the #1 spot, although I feel like even if one of them did, Sumlin wouldn't say so because he likes to keep the battles as competitive as possible.  

2014 NFL Draft

The NFL draft was also good to the Ags as we had three first round picks
  • #7 overall - Mike Evans to Tampa Bay
  • #8 overall - Jake Matthews to Atlanta
  • #22 overall - Johnny to Cleveland
We also had several UFA signing:
  • Ben Malena - Dallas
  • Travis Labhart - Houston
  • Nate Askew - Tampa Bay
  • Steven Jenkins - Tampa Bay
  • Toney Hurd Jr. - Tampa Bay
  • Nehemiah Hicks - Miami
  • Otis Jacobs - Baltimore
  • Derel Walker - Tennessee 
The SEC also fared well in the draft
  • SEC had 4 of first 10 picks
  • SEC had 11 of first 32
  • SEC West division had 8 of first 32
In the first two rounds here were the totals:
  • SEC - 18
  • Big 10 - 10
  • Pac 12- 9
  • ACC - 8
  • Mountain West - 5
  • AAC - 4
  • Big 12 - 3 
I actually lost interest at that point and stopped tallying.


We have had some big news in terms of our future schedules.  We added a neutral site game at Reliant Stadium with Arizona State to kickoff the 2015 season as well as a home-and-home with UCLA for 2016 (H)/2017 (A).  The game at Kyle will be the first game at the "new" Kyle Field....but I'm even more excited about a game at the historic Rose Bowl.

South Carolina has been named our official cross-division rival and we will play for the Bonham Trophy, named after a SC grad who fought at the Alamo.  I'm completely ehhh about a forced rivalry (with two schools have never faced each other) and a contrived trophy - but maybe in 10 or 15 years I'll have a different opinion.  One thing I am excited about is Steve Spurrier - the guy is awesome - I just hope I don't come to dislike him as a result of the "rivalry".

The SEC also released a long term conference schedule.  I bolded our annually rotating east opponent:

(H) Missouri, Arky, LSU, Ole Miss;
(A) Alabama, Auburn, MSU, South Carolina

(H) Alabama, Auburn, MSU, South Carolina;
(A) Vandy, Arky, LSU, Ole Miss

(H) Tennessee, Arky, LSU, Ole Miss;
(A) Alabama, Auburn, MSU, South Carolina

(H) Alabama, Auburn, MSU, South Carolina;
(A) Florida, Arky, LSU, Ole Miss

(H) Kentucky, Arky, LSU, Ole Miss;
(A) Alabama, Auburn, MSU, South Carolina

(H) Alabama, Auburn, MSU, South Carolina;
(A) Georgia, Arky, LSU, Ole Miss

(H) Vandy, Arky, LSU, Ole Miss;
(A) Alabama, Auburn, MSU, South Carolina

(H) Alabama, Auburn, MSU, South Carolina;
(A) Missouri, Arky, LSU, Ole Miss

(H) Florida, Arky, LSU, Ole Miss;
(A) Alabama, Auburn, MSU, South Carolina

(H) Alabama, Auburn, MSU, South Carolina;
(A) Tennessee, Arky, LSU, Ole Miss

(H) Georgia, Arky, LSU, Ole Miss;
(A) Alabama, Auburn, MSU, South Carolina

(H) Alabama, Auburn, MSU, South Carolina;
(A) Kentucky, Arky, LSU, Ole Miss

Three other scheduling notes:
  • LSU game this season will be a Thanksgiving 6:30 pm kick-off on ESPN
  • The three other 2015 OoC games to go along with the ASU game will be Ball State (Sept. 12), Nevada (Sept 19), and Western Carolina (Nov. 14)
  • Our Oregon home-and-home is still on the books for 2018 (at Autzen Stadium) & 2019 (at Kyle Field)
  • Regardless of who is home and who is away, we have our Arky game inked with Jerry at Cowboys Stadium until 2020-something.  Our two year abbreviation in the contract to allow a home-and-home once we became conference mates came at a steep price.
  • There are also rumors floating around about playing at Rice in 2019 - most likely at Reliant
That means, as it stands today, my annual road trip schedule will most likely look like this:
2015: at Vandy
2016: at 'Bama
2017: at UCLA
2018: at Oregon
2019: at Georgia
2020-2022: TBD
2023: at Tennessee
2024-2025: TBD
My bucket list is going to get kinda short by the end of that run. 

Off-Field Goings On

There is really no sugar coating it - this has been a rough off-season in terms of roster personel.

QB Matt Joeckel has graduated and transfered to TCU to play his senior year.

It is very possible that there will be four Ags starting for DI teams at QB this season:
  • Kenny Hill/Kyle Allen (A&M)
  • Matt Joeckel (TCU)
  • Jamiell Showers (UTEP)
  • Matt Davis (transfered to SMU after playing JUCO in '13)
That would actually be pretty cool.

Other "normal" attrition:
  • DL Ivan Robinson retired due to injury
  • WR Jaquay Williams transfer to Louisville
  • OL Ishmael Wilson transfer to Baylor
  • S Kam Miles kicked off the team for stealing from a teammate
Then we have a litany of police blotter:
  • Darion Claiborne was arrested prior to the bowl game for possession of marijuana, then again for a noise violation in early spring and then again at the beginning of June for aggravated robbery (along with Isiah Golden) - he has been kicked off the team
  • Isiah Golden was arrested at the same time as Claiborne was in early spring for possession of marijuana and then again with Claiborne for the aggravated assault (something to do with beating up a drug dealer) - he has been kicked off the team
  • Gavin Stansbury was arrested in Houston back in March after pouring beer on a Rice student's head and then punching him - he was initially suspended but then his suspension was lifted.  Then in mid-July he left the team - it is unknown if it is related to his previous charges.
 All three of the above players are from Louisiana.  I have no clue how LSU keeps their roster eligible.  Ha - actually, I do.
  • Kenny Hill was arrested for public intoxication after passing out in a Northgate flowerbed.  Seriously guys, how is no other teammate partying with the QB to help him home?
  • Howard Matthews & Edward Pope were arrested together after being pulled over and discovering there were warrants out for both of them for failure to appear regarding unpaid tickets
  • Ricky Seals-Jones was arrested for "disorderly conduct - language" after he drove to Northgate to be designated driver for an intoxicated friend.  Language?  Is that really a thing?
  • Victor Davis was suspended at end of July after getting caught stealing from a Khols in Rosenberg.  
This outburst of poor decisions and behavior has brought a lot of scrutiny on Sumlin - primarily from the schools recruiting against him.  None of which is good or acceptable, however, outside of the Claiborne/Golden situation, I don't think we're seeing anything that wouldn't be classified as normal college student run-ins with the law.