Texas A&M Football: Best and Worst of the Aggies' Offseason
The offseason is a time for evolution and change, sometimes for the better and others for the worse. For the Aggies, this particular offseason represented a breaking point in A&M's future, one that would be remembered for decades to come.
Ranging from the official SEC transition to the powerful recruiting prowess of new head coach Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M has truly begun to progress into a new era in their history. However, multiple downsides have presented themselves as well.
We take a look at the best and worst of this offseason as the approaching 2012 football schedule approaches with rapid haste.
Bad: Manziel's Arrest
Early in the morning of Friday, June 29, College Station police provided some action at Texas A&M's famous Northgate when they arrested Aggie backup quarterback Johnny Manziel for fighting and possession of a fake ID.
The 19-year-old, sitting out last season as a red-shirt freshman, was considered one of the top prospects entering the program. Failing to overtake current starting QB Jameill Showers during this offseason's spring practice, however, was disappointing to say the least.
Manziel's arrest, while seemingly insignificant in the overall scheme of things, still represents a taint on this offseason. For a quarterback with such promise, many Aggies expected better.
Good: New Uniforms
On July 12, the Texas A&M athletic department, partnered with Adidas, unveiled the program's new Lone Star TECHFIT uniforms for the Aggies' inaugural SEC season. The mix between old-school and modern styles provides a unique outfit that has impressed most everyone from recruits to current players and fans to coaches.
The new gridiron gear allows for further expansion of the A&M brand on a national scale, gaining footholds in strategic markets around the country. These uniforms shows how the university continues to modernize while also holding links to the traditional values of the past, satisfying both the younger and older sects of the Aggie network.
Overall, the introduction of A&M's newest football equipment is a positive move for the program as a whole.
Worse: Defensive Questions
Texas A&M will return six starters from last year's defense for its inaugural SEC season. With linebackers Jonathan Stewart and Sean Porter, along with DE Damontre Moore, the Aggies have a strong backbone to build their all-new 4-3 multiple defense around.
However, both the interior defensive line and a majority of the secondary remains inexperienced, especially when facing off against top offenses such as Arkansas and Alabama. Depth across the board is a problem for new DC Mark Snyder, making many fans nervous about how the unit will fare in the upcoming season.
Overall, many expect some improvement from last year, but still expect A&M to reside in the lower half of the conference's defensive rankings. Considering how strong the SEC is on the defensive side of the ball, questions all around the unit will be tough to overcome for the Aggies.
According to 247Sports, Texas A&M has the most verbal commitments of any program in the country, with 24 prospects pledging to attend A&M next fall. Led by big-shot recruits such as TE Derrick Griffin, WR Laquvionte Gonzalez and DT Isaiah Golden, A&M's 2013 class has begun to shape up to be one of the best the Aggies have ever had.
Since the arrival of head coach Kevin Sumlin, the former Houston top-dog has sought to bolster A&M's recruiting to that of elite status. Offering to prospects from around the country, Sumlin searches to improve the Aggie national brand, helping establish the university as a prime college football destination.
For a new coach, Sumlin and his big-time recruiting-based staff have more than impressed on the trail, consistently picking up some of the best prospects in and around the fertile state. Keep an eye out for the trend to continue into the A&M's inaugural SEC season.
Worst: Official SEC Transition
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Texas A&M's move to the SEC will, in all likelihood, remain the most difficult transition that not only the program, but also the university as well ever endures. Considered the toughest athletic league in the nation, the SEC boasts the past six football national champions, two of the past three baseball national titles and the most recent basketball championship.
For A&M football, the Aggies will face off against each of the four universities that have combined for the past six titles in their inaugural season. The program has also been abandoned by longtime rival Texas, entering the SEC hoping to revive long-lost connections between LSU and Arkansas.
To say that the competition will be unyielding would be an understatement.
Best: Official SEC Transition
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Texas A&M's conference realignment into the SEC will transform the university like nothing else can, boosting the Aggies' national brand while allowing its athletic programs to compete against the best of the best on a consistent basis.
As president R. Bowen Loftin said, this transition is a "100-year decision" for the university, and I, like many others, am convinced he and the rest of the powers that be A&M made the right one.
The brotherhood and camaraderie within the SEC is a new and welcoming prospect for A&M, allowing the Aggies opportunities to grow rivalries and friendships unlike those formed in the SWC and Big 12. The financial stability and security provides the university the ability to thrive like it never has before, especially now that it resides outside Texas' shadow.
Just over two weeks into the move, the entire Aggie network remains excited about the transition into their new conference. The winds of change have blown through College Station, leaving the entire program changed for the better.