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College Football Preview: 4. Texas A&M Aggies

4. Texas A&M Aggies

It was a dream first season in the SEC for Texas A&M last year. After losing much of their 2011 disappointment it was expected the Aggies could struggle in a much tougher SEC. But, led by Johnny Manziel, Damontre Moore and Ryan Swope the Aggies won 11 games including wins over Alabama and Oklahoma. Although Moore and Swope are gone TAMU still has Manziel. And that could mean all the difference.

Johnny Manziel

Backfield: He's back. Johnny Football is back for his sophomore year and after a Heisman year, he is thinking the next step; a national title. We all know Manziel can outrun even the best defenses (Alabama) but his arm is underrated. Despite the fact Manziel can make bad decisions with the ball he seems to have matured in that category. If Manziel can repeat most of last year and make smarter decisions later in games two straight Heismans are on the horizon. Senior Ben Malena also returns and should be an instant contributor. He has some great speed and is incredibly elusive but he isn't enough of a factor on the ground to take opponent's attention off of Manziel. Sophomore Trey Williams also returns and despite being very small he can fight through contact.
Ben Malena

Receivers: If anything other than opponents can keep Manziel down it would be his receivers. His favorite, Swope, is gone and he needs to find a Number One target immediately. The top contender is sophomore Mike Evans who wasn't much of a factor last season. He is a great possession receiver and has potential to grow. Junior Malcome Kennedy could also be a factor with improvement this off season. He is a great route runner and has great hands but he still lacks big play explosiveness. With very little depth in the receiving core it appears the Aggies could lean on impact freshman. 6-5 Ricky Seals-Jones could make a huge impact, using his size to dominate on leap balls. Another freshman, Sebastian LaRue, will be also be key. Although not as big or as tough to cover as Seals-Jones he is just as explosiveness with a quick acceleration. LaQuvionte Gonzalez is small so it may be hard to see him be a full-time receiver. Though the Aggies should be creative in getting Gonzalez, one of the quickest players in the nation, the ball.

Offensive Line: A&M will have a tough time replacing tackle Luke Joeckel who is now a prospect in Jacksonville. Though, there is still an All-American caliber talent on the line in senior tackle Bruce Matthews. Big and imposing, Matthews is athletic for his position constantly using his mobility to pick up pass rushers. Junior guard Cedric Ogbuehi returns after a solid sophomore year. On the other side another junior, Jarvis Harrison, also powers an evolving ground game. The loss of center Patrick Lewis leaves a leadership void but this line is still above average.

Defensive Line: Damontre Moore left early for the NFL but the D-Line is still talented enough to get some pressure on opponents. Junior end Gavin Stansbury is ready for a bigger role after being just a plug-in guy in 2012. Also ready to become an important pass-rusher is end Julien Obioha who returns for his sophomore year. Being just a sophomore, Obioha has some things to work on but be very improved this season. The Aggies will keep teams from dominating on the ground thanks to a number of solid tackles who fill running holes. Nose guard Kirby Ennis is the team's most talented returner on the line and has All-SEC talent. Junior Ivan Robinson has proved he can be a pass rusher and stops rushers before they can break away. Freshman Justin Manning, a Dallas product is a little small for the position but has a ton of potential.

Linebackers: Texas A&M's linebacker core is one of the weakest in the nation. But, there is a lot of potential for a star to break out. Junior middle linebacker Justin Bass could turn into a star. Being a middle linebacker, he will be a top candidate to lead the team in tackles and should be a true force. Sophomore Michael Richardson also has potential but isn't proven. He can make plays across the field and could also turn into a sack machine if he becomes quicker to the ball. Junior Tyrell Taylor is yet another unproven 'backer. With some weaknesses at the end he could turn into the team's most valuable pass-rusher spending time at the RUSH position.

Secondary: The Aggies secondary has improved greatly from last year but there are still some holes. Junior cornerback Deshazor Everett could prove to be one of the team's big surprises. He struggled a lot last year which was to be expected being thrust into the SEC being just a sophomore. Though his coverage skills seem to have improved this off season. Opposite him sophomore De'Vante Harris or junior Floyd Raven should be able to pressure receivers. The safeties are also improving with players like senior Toney Hurd stepping up. He is a hard hitter and can also help in coverage plays. Howard Matthews and Johntel Franklin should emerge as depth players.

With Johnny Football returning and a number of possibly explosive threats Texas A&M has the potential to be a national title threat. Plus the team's only real tough teams on their schedule are Alabama and LSU.

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