Somewhat lost in the recent media furor over Texas A&M quarterbacks – and yes, Ace Fierro has finally cut back on his twitter barrage - is that Fall Camp has begun. With Week One in the books, let's dive in and overreact based on our well-placed GBH sources, Zapruder-quality Aggie Athletics film, and copious amounts of bourbon. We’ll also break out a very cliché journalistic device and list 5 Things We’re Pretty Sure We Know, and 5 Things We’re Pretty Sure We Don’t.
Things We Know.
1. The Freshman Class is For Real
A consensus top-15 haul, great things are expected from the 2013 signing class. Since February, two important things have happened; all 31 players qualified, and they all have spent some serious time working out on campus with Larry Jackson. The talent level appears to be off the charts, and the infusion of bodies specifically at defensive tackle, linebacker, and wide receiver is going to benefit the program for years to come. Speaking of wide receiver:
2. Ricky Seals-Jones is a Freak.
The #1 High School athlete in the country last year, RSJ sported an amazing resume, but a rather thin highlight film at wide receiver - leading some to speculate it may take him half a season to pick up the nuances of the position.
The 6’6", 240 pound man-child is already grabbing snaps with the 1st team, and a 4-wide set with 6’5" Mike Evans on the right and RSJ on the left has to have the Aggie offensive brain trust salivating at the possibilities. Now all he needs is a nickname. The comments section is open.
3. Billy Pickard remains frightening.
Entering his 49th Fall, Mr. Pickard still scares the hell out of me. I will most certainly back away from the sideline sir.
4. Larry Jackson is a miracle worker.
The starting right guard carrying 315 pounds of lean muscle? Donnie Baggs’ biceps sporting their own biceps? Shaun Ward no longer showing that 3rd-trimester bump? This fall’s A&M team is easily the most in-shape, best-off-the-bus looking crew since at least the mid-90s, and maybe ever. Congrats to Black Death, as the players call him, and the entire roster for appearing to buy in to what he’s selling.
5. The SwagHype is off the charts.
Oh, Mike and Dennis, how far in the rearview mirror you seem. Feel free to stroll around practice, perhaps timing your footsteps to the beats of Drake as you watch the Heisman-winning quarterback fire laser after laser into future 1st round wide receivers, while protected by future 1st round olinemen. Look at the backfield where 5-star running backs are stacked on top of each other and won’t even start.
You happen to be staring at the hottest program in the country, led by the hottest coach in the country. Not the worst combination in the world.
Things We Don’t.
1. About that all-world secondary . . .
While De’Vante Harris looks to have put on some good weight and early returns on Noel Ellis are outstanding – there might be a slight tap of the brakes on the Floyd Raven-to-All-American-DB bandwagon. Sounds like there are still some mental gaffes being made in the backfield by the awesomely-dreadlocked junior, and free safety isn’t exactly where you want people freelancing about.
If Raven can’t convince the coaches he can successfully man the position, it starts a chain reaction that either pulls Deshazor Everett to safety (opening up a CB spot for a probable freshman) or puts Clay Honeycutt on the field for long stretches (confusing Dave South that Ryan Swope is still eligible and playing in the defensive backfield). Raven locking down a starting role covers a multitude of talent and depth issues, and he’ll be given every chance to win the job.
2. About that o-line depth . . .
Yes, the starting 5 will be as good as any in the country. But if any one of them goes down? Yeesh. Ben Compton and Joseph Cheek look solid, but there are a lot of career backups here that have never done a thing. Joas Aguilar has yet to be seen in fall practice, and the backup left tackle has lost 3 inches since arriving from JUCO. Any injuries here are going to cause a massive reshuffling quickly.
3. Is the Rice game still at noon?
Oh, that’s still a good idea? The Accuweather extended forecast calls for "brilliant sunshine and hot, High of 101." Great, thanks. Looking forward to fall.
4. Who is the backup quarterback?
Great question, and hopefully one we won’t have to worry about until the 2nd half of said Rice sauna. Matt Davis has made great offseason strides, but Kenny Hill has been running this offense since age 2, or whenever Southlake begins offseason install. Matt Joeckel apparently looked pretty good in the scrimmage Saturday evening, but I’ve got to think the coaching staff wants a running threat if at all possible. And who knows Ace Fierro’s upside if he can stop being so damn provocative on twitter.
5. OMG WILL JOHNNY PLAY??!!?!!
Yes, yes he will. Get excited sportsfans.