Texas A&M Football: How Will the Aggies Replace Ryan Swope?
The Texas A&M football team will have to replace the school's all-time leading receiver in 2013. Whether the Aggies are able to replace the departed Ryan Swope will help determine if the 2013 team can match its success from 2012.
Swope left Aggieland as the career leader in receiving yards and receptions. He also holds school records for receptions in a season and receiving yards in a season.
When the various media outlets and pundits make their preseason rankings of college football teams, they tend to base them on how the team performed in the previous year. They do not take into consideration how the change in chemistry and loss in leadership affect a team.
It is a flawed system where teams are rewarded for their performance during the previous season. That is why every year there are teams that struggle to make bowls, yet are ranked in the top 10 in the preseason.
Whether the Ags can live up to their preseason rankings will be largely determined by how they replace the leadership and timely plays that Swope and the other seniors made in 2012.
This is a look at the various ways the Aggies will replace Ryan Swope in 2013.
Utilize the Tight End on Third Down
When Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel got into trouble, he looked to Mike Evans and Ryan Swope to bail him out. He especially looked to Swope on third down.
In 2013, the Ags will have Cam Clear playing tight end. The 6'6", 270-pound athlete will offer Manziel a huge target on third down.
By using Clear and senior tight end Nehemiah Hicks, the Aggies should be able to replace some of Swope's presence in the intermediate passing game.
Malcome Kennedy Needs to Take a Greater Role
Malcome Kennedy with be a junior in 2013. He caught more passes than any other returning Aggie receiver not named Mike Evans.
Kennedy caught 26 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns. He has proven to be a very dependable receiver for the Aggies.
In 2013, Kennedy will be the starter at one of the slot receiver spots. As an upperclassman he will be expected to step up and pick up some of the slack left by Swope's departure.
Kennedy will need to double his productivity from 2012. Aggie fans should expect Kennedy to catch close to 50 passes for 600 yards in 2013.
Freshmen Need to Help
There is no denying the fact that the Aggies will need some of the true freshmen receivers in their 2013 recruiting class to step in and help immediately. This is especially important at the slot receiver position.
Incoming freshmen Jeremy Tabuyo, Laquvionte Gonzalez and Sebastian Larue will all get the opportunity in August to fight for a starting position at slot receiver. Aggie fans should expect at least two of the three to avoid a redshirt.
Gonzalez does not have ideal size at around 150 pounds, but he is extremely quick and his value as a punt and kick returner may force the coach's hand. Fans should expect to see offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney to use a variety of ways to get the ball into Gonzalez's hands.
Larue will arrive on campus in July and attend the second summer session of school. Tabuyo is already in Aggieland and is working out with the team. It will be interesting to see what he can contribute as a freshman.
Aggie fans should expect to see at least two of the freshmen play, and for each of them to catch 15 to 20 passes in 2013.
Running Backs Will Be More Involved in the Passing Game
With Clarence McKinney taking over the play-calling duties in 2013, it should surprise no one that the running backs will be more involved in the passing game. McKinney coaches the running backs and knows all their capabilities.
The Aggies have four running backs on their depth chart in Ben Malena, Brandon Williams, Trey Williams and Tra Carson, all of whom could start for most teams in the country.
All four of them should be more involved in the passing game than they were in 2012. The running backs as a unit caught 38 passes in 2012. Aggie fans should expect that number to increase to around 80.
Trey Williams and Brandon Williams both have exceptional speed. They will be used in the slot and out of the backfield to create mismatches with safeties.
Mike Evans Will Play All over the Field
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Mike Evans set a school freshman record with 82 receptions for 1,105 yards in 2012. The Texas A&M coaches experimented with Evans one the inside at slot receiver during the spring.
He played out the outside as a freshman but was very effective in the slot. Expect the Aggie offensive coaches to move Evans all over the field in the fall to find the best matchup.
Evans caught 82 balls as a freshman and will be a threat to catch 100 passes as a sophomore. Johnny Manziel looked for Evans exclusively during the first half of the season until he became more comfortable in the offense.
Look for Manziel to lean on Evans more as the new receivers get their feet wet early in the season. Evans is a safe bet to the lead the SEC in receptions in 2013.