We got to chat for a few minutes with Aggie legend Dat Nguyen on Monday on behalf DIRECTV's Sunday Ticket campaign. (They're running a special offer for four-year university students right now, details below.) But we also talked plenty of Aggie Football.
GBH: First things first. Tell us about the DIRECTV package for students.
Dat: Yeah. Basically with this deal, you can watch anywhere/anytime and stream NFLST.TV anywhere. It's a pretty cool deal to me, because when I was in school the only way to get all the NFL games was with a satellite dish and my apartments wouldn't allow them. Now you can just watch anytime, anywhere: smartphone, tablet, laptop...watch on mute at the library on Sunday or whatever.
You can get all of the out-of-market NFL games for $24.99/month or $99/year. A&M has a lot of out of state students now, this is a good way for them to keep up with their teams from back home. Plus we've got Ags all over the NFL: Manziel in Cleveland, Evans in Tampa, Von Miller over in Denver, Joeckel in Jacksonville, Matthews in Atlanta, Cedric in Cincinnati. Another cool thing is there's one channel dedicated only to fantasy football: Fantasy Zone.
GBH: Are you excited about New Kyle Field? Have you been to see it yet?
Dat: Just the perimeter, I didn't get to go inside. But the hair on the back of my neck stood up when I thought about what it would look like on a game day. Walked around the outside on my way to an event at the MSC the other day and it was incredible.
GBH: How do you think Kevin Sumlin has done so far with the transition to the SEC?
Dat: He's done an unbelievable job. He took a program to the toughest conference in the country and has been competitive. The offense has always been good, but the defense with Chavis this year...[Chavis] might be the prize recruit this off-season. What he's done historically at Tennessee and LSU...this season is a big chance to show what A&M is going to be like under Chavis: fast, hard, and physical.
GBH: Which Aggie linebackers do you think have a chance to shine in a Chavis defense?
Dat: AJ Hilliard. I really like his game. He's one of the few players in college that can play all three downs equally as well. He's tough enough to stop the run and quick enough to cover in space. I expect a big year, I really like his explosiveness and twitch. He can bend and get to spots that not all players can get to.
GBH: Who was the best player you ever faced in college?
Dat: Ricky Williams.Tough, strong, big, fast, athletic. He had everything a good running back has to have. He was good enough to take a couple years off and still surpass the 10,000 yard career rushing mark in the NFL. I remember he beat me as a freshman on a screen pass. It was a screen pass and I lost my assignment when he got lost in traffic. I got chewed out on the sideline. It was an "OS" play.
GBH: Which teammates do you still keep in touch with?
Dat: Oh yeah, all the guys I hang out with are collegiate teammates and friends: Toya Jones, Rich Coady, Dan Campbell, Aaron Oliver, Warrick Holdman, Steve McKinney, and lots of others. It's like a brotherhood with those guys I played with. The '98 team was a special group. We got beat pretty bad in the Big 12 Championship Game in '97 by Nebraska and we came back and said "that's not us; that's not gonna happen again." We lost a close game to Florida State to start the next season, then rolled off ten straight wins. We lost to Texas, but we'd already wrapped up the South. Then we beat Kansas State, and that was probably the biggest game of my career."
GBH: Do you ever think about getting back into coaching?
Dat: I don't think I realized how many people I impacted when coaching. The recruiting and planning aspect was hard because of the NCAA time rules. These last couple years my relationships with players has shown me that I did make an impact on the kids, even ones I didn't coach directly. When the right opportunity comes up, and I think it will, I'll definitely consider. You don't realize you miss it until you're out. But right now the tradeoff for time with my family is very rewarding.
GBH: Last question, and putting you on the spot. Record prediction for 2015?
Dat: Oooh, I don't like to do predictions. I think it will be a good year, a fun year. I'll say 9-3, maybe 10-2. And the 2-3 losses might be a toss-up. The game might hinge on a surprise onside kick or something; you never know with Coach Sumlin.
Thanks again to Dat and to DIRECTV NFL Sunday Ticket for their time.