Lindy’s Top 40 Countdown: No. 29 Texas A&M Staff

July 24, 2014 at 2:44 pm.

Tra Carson may be in line for a big role in Texas A&M's offense this season. (Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports)


LOCATION: College Station, Texas

COACH: Kevin Sumlin — At Texas A&M: 20-6, 2 years; overall: 55-23, 6 years





RETURNING STARTERS: 16; 5 offense, 9 defense, kicker, punter

PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB Tra Carson, RB Trey Williams, WR Ricky Seals-Jones, OT Cedric Ogbuehi, OL Jarvis Harrison, DE Myles Garrett, DB Deshazor Everett, P Drew Kaser

PRIMARY STRENGTHS:  Even with the departure of three first-round draft picks, the offense should once again generate plenty of points and excitement, as the veteran line is loaded with talented players, the running backs are outstanding and the receiving corps is filled with big-play threats.  If A&M receives adequate play at quarterback, the offense should roll.  The special teams should also play positive roles.

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS:  With an influx of talented and highly touted newcomers, along with the return of plenty of players who were thrown into the fire as freshmen last year, the defense should be better. How much better can the Aggies be in one year?  The defense needs to improve by leaps and bounds from last year’s unit that ranked last in the SEC.


Whoever wins the opportunity to replace Johnny Manziel as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback – freshman Kyle Allen and sophomore Kenny Hill are the top candidates – will benefit from budding stars around him.

The offensive line, led by left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, might prove to be one of the best in recent memory.

The punishing running style of Tra Carson is the perfect complement to the elusive and explosive style of Trey Williams.  A&M also can feature former five-star recruit and Oklahoma transfer Brandon Williams.  With an inexperienced quarterback, expect the Aggies to rely more on the rushing attack.

Redshirt freshman Ricky Seals-Jones may be the next big (6-5) go-to receiving target, while senior Malcome Kennedy, the second-leading receiver from last year, is reliable.  True freshman Speedy Noil appears to be an immediate impact difference-maker.


The defense was dreadful last season, allowing a whopping 475.8 yards and 32.2 points per game. Part of that was due to a lack of talent, but it was also due to inexperience. The Aggies signed a number of talented defenders and coordinator Mark Snyder is hopeful they’ll mesh well with what he has returning.

The Aggies added stellar defensive line recruit Myles Garrett, a five-star defensive end, along with heralded prospects Qualen Cunningham at end and Zaycoven Henderson at tackle.  The newcomers join returning starters Ivan Robinson and Julien Obioha to provide far more options and substitutes than last year. The departure of returning sack leader Gavin Stansbury (end), along with tackle Isaiah Golden (dismissed) was unexpected, but it will allow the youngsters to compete at key positions early on in fall camp.

The defensive line depth should improve A&M’s pass rush, which will help a secondary that has only one proven playmaker in cornerback Deshazor Everett.

Texas A&M needs improved play from its young linebackers.  Two true freshmen – Jordan Mastrogiovanni and Shaan Washington – received considerable playing time last year and should be improved in 2014. Darian Claiborne, who also contributed a lot as a freshman, was dismissed from the team, which opens up an opportunity for someone.  The Aggies need two of last year’s starters, Donnie Baggs and Tommy Sanders, to step forward after disappointing junior seasons.


Junior Drew Kaser led the SEC in punting last year by averaging 47.4 yards per kick in his first year at the helm.  Kaser, who had 17 punts of 50 yards or more, is a legitimate Ray Guy Award candidate this season.

Placekicker Josh Lambo emerged practically out of nowhere last season and delivered the Aggies the field accuracy and consistency that had been a major issue in 2012.  Lambo hit 8 of 10 field goal attempts, including a 33-yard game-winner at Ole Miss.  The Aggies also feature big-play return specialist Trey Williams.


Kevin Sumlin is stocking the cupboard in Aggieland with big-time recruits who could make Texas A&M a contender for the SEC West title as soon as 2015.  While the Aggies should earn a sixth straight bowl invitation, A&M may be too young and inexperienced to finish in the upper echelon of the league in the first season of the post-Manziel era.


DE Myles Garrett:  He’s the most highly coveted defensive lineman to sign with the Aggies since former All-American Sam Adams in 1991.  Garrett, who recorded 8.5 sacks in one game at Arlington (Texas) Martin High, possesses the size (6-5, 250) to play and make a difference right away.  He had 20.5 sacks as a senior.

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