Monday, August 10, 2015

Off-Season Recap

Here we are now in the doldrums of summer.  That strange time of the year after the College World Series when baseball ends and before the fall camp opens up for football.

So let's catch up....

Liberty Bowl: Ags 45 vs. West Virginia 37

The game started out fast and furious with the Mountaineers leading 20-14 at the end of the 1st Q but the Ags scored 17 points on their first three posessions of the second half to break the game open.

We ran for 235 yards with Tra Carson shouldering the load with 133 yards on 25 carries and Trey Williams picking up an additional 83 yards on 6 carries.  Kyle Allen threw for four TDs and ran for another en route to being named the Liberty Bowl MVP.

(The horns, by the way, did draw Arkansas in the Texas Bowl and were completely embarrassed by the Hogs, 31-7.  The horns managed 59 yards of offense and only 2 yards rushing against the team that finished last in the SEC West. Tyrone Swoops accounted for 19 yards of total offense - he was the starting QB and played the entire game.)


Aggieland felt the losses of two legends of the program this past spring.

Billy Pickard '56 passed away in March.  Mr. Pickard was a tough old boy who served as a student trainer for Bear Bryant back at Junction - and every coach since under a variety of roles.  I had one brief encounter with him back several years when Sean and I were trying to navigate around the exterior of Kyle Field while they were doing some sort of renovation to the south endzone.  There was a good article on him in the 12th Man Magazine a couple of years back.

A&M's first Heisman winner, John David Crow '58, also passed away back in June.  I met Mr. Crow on a couple of occasions and he was always really nice and shared a laugh or two.  I have a picture of him with me and Sean that hangs above my desk and my son has a picture with him that hangs next to his bed.

Both men will be dearly missed by the program and the fans.

Signing Day

February was the craziest close to National Signing Day for A&M that I've ever followed.

5* DT Daylan Mack decommitted prior to the bowl game and then 5* QB Kyler Murray took a secret visit to Austin with WR Demarkus Lodge (who had decommitted from us back in the fall).  I don't think Mack took anyone by surprise - his entire recruitment was going to be a roller coaster - but Kyler turned the entire fan base on it's ear.

Thankfully (THANKFULLY!) all ended well there and both Kyler and Mack signed with the good guys.  5* WR Christian Kirk also added his name to the list.

Murray finished his career at Allen HS 43-0 with back-to-back-to-back 6A State Championships and was both the Texas and National Gatorade Player of the Year....even having to play his entire season season on the road as the Allen football stadium underwent construction.

Not only did we have to sweat out Kyler signing, but then all focus shifted on the MLB Draft in June.  We got another nice boost of confidence when Kyler "opted out" of the draft (which isn't really a thing in the baseball draft since you don't declare yourself eligible like you do in football or basketball, but he essentially notified all teams that he would not sign).

Kirk was the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year and athlete Deshawn Capers-Smith was the Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year (he was a QB but we will play him at corner).

We addressed every single position of need - particularly at OL and S.  I feel like the only place where we missed out a little was at CB and maybe one more LB just for depth.  We also brought in Blinn QB Jake Hubenak after signing day to fill out the 3-deep (and compete for the backup spot), which was a great pickup for that spot.

The staff also hit the transfers hard, bringing in former 5* RB Keith Ford from Oklahoma and former 5* CB Priest Willis from UCLA (another Arizona boy for Sumlin & Co.).  They will both have to sit out 2015 but should step in nicely in 2016.

The class finished 9th nationally, but 6th in the SEC.

Almost as important as anything - this was a solid class of kids.  After seeing the 2013 class disappear from the roster, Sumlin has really put a lot of emphasis on not only the best kids, but the right kids. There was not a single grade/transcript issue - every single player qualified and is on campus right now.  That is a nice change.

To be totally honest - the insane drama this year has really burnt me out on recruiting right now, I haven't kept up with the 2016 class at all - and we are already handing out offers for 2017.

NFL Draft
For the third consecutive year, an Aggie offensive lineman was selected in the first round of the NFL draft as the Cincinatti Bengals snatched up Big Ced with the 21st overall pick. 

Here is a quick list of where our boys will start out their pro careers:
  • Cedric Ogbuehi - Cincinnati - (1st round, #21 overall)
  • Jarvis Harrison - New York Jets (5th round)
  • Floyd Raven - Cincinnati (UFA)
  • Cam Clear - Pittsburgh (UFA)
  • Deshazor Everett - Tampa Bay (UFA)
  • Josh Lambo - San Diego (UFA)
  • Trey Williams -Houston ((UFA; then picked up by Washington)
  • Jamielle Showers - Dallas (UFA)


Outside of the guys who graduated or left early we have had some additional attrition...
  • WR Quiv Gonzalez transferred out back in April and has ended up following his WR Coach, David Beaty, to Kansas
  • Darzil Washington has transferred to Louisiana-Lafayette
  • DL Jay Arnold underwent surgery in the spring and has decided to retire
  • QB Kenny Hill transferred to TCU
  • OL Zach Ledwick left the team to focus on his degree
  • MLB Jordan Mastrogiovanni also left the team to focus on his degree
  • WR Kyrion Parker transferred out (I'm not sure where he landed)
  • DL Tyrone Taylor is no longer on the roster
  • OL Kimo Tipoti retired from football
  • Brett Wade retired due to injury
  • Jonathan Wiggins retired due to injury
  • DL Darrell Jackson has retired - took a medical hardship after unsuccessful knee surgery
  • Trey Williams declared himself eligible for the draft and signed with the Redskins as a UFA
Future Schedules

There has been quite a bit of information that has come out since the season ended regarding our future schedules.

They finalized our 2015 OoC games with Ball State, Nevada, and Western Carolina accompanying the big Arizona State game at Reliant Stadium.

Still on the schedule is the home-and-home with UCLA for 2016 (H)/2017 (A).  The game at Kyle will be the first game at the 100% "new" Kyle Field....but the real gem is getting to play at Rose Bowl in 2017.  We also inked ULaLa for 2017.

The Oregon series for 2018/2019 was canceled, which was really disappointing for me.  It was, however, replaced by Clemson which is another great OoC opponent (although not quite at the same level as Oregon).  Those games will be 9/8/18 at Kyle Field and 9/7/19 in South Carolina

We announced a home and home with former Big 12 rival, Colorado, for 9/19/20 at Kyle Field, 9/11/21 in Boulder.

The biggest news was an announcement of Notre Dame in 2024/2025 (8/31/24 at Kyle & 9/27/25 in South Bend).  My only regret from college was not going to the Notre Dame game for the season opener of my freshman year.  I get to make it up 25 years later - and likely several $$$ more than it would have cost me back then.

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: TBD
  • 2019: at Georgia
  • 2020: TBD
  • 2021: at Colorado
  • 2022: TBD 
  • 2023: at Tennessee 
  • 2024: TBD
  • 2025: at Notre Dame
The away game year flipped between the Oregon/Clemson series and is screwing me up those years - I was planning Oregon in 2018 and an undisputed trip to Georgia in 2019.  Now I have to choose between Clemson and UGA.  Seeing a game "Between the Hedges" has been on my bucket list so I'm leaning towards to Athens rather than Clemson.

You'll notice that all of our big OoC road games are in odd years to balance out our schedule (we play 'Bama, Auburn, SC, and MSU on the road in even years).  I really don't get excited about a trip to Columbus or Starkville....I guess we could repeat a trip to 'Bama or Auburn.

I'm going to start saving up now for that Notre Dame trip - those tickets are going to be BONKERS expensive.

Fall camp starts up this week and the season opener is now only 26 days away!  The countdown is on!  WHOOP!

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