The Texas A&M football team is loaded for a championship run in 2013. Led by the returning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and All-American offensive tackle Jake Matthews, the Ags have one of the most talented teams in the country.
The Ags return a lot of skill-position talent from an offense that set SEC records for total yardage in 2012. The defense has some holes to fill after graduating a very talented senior class, but should still be among the top half of the SEC.
The prospects for the season are in a state of flux right now as there are concerns over sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel's eligibility. If Manziel plays then the Aggies are legitimate national title contenders.
There is no timetable for when the investigation into whether Manziel signed autographs for money will end. The results of the investigation could range from no punishment, to suspension for multiple games or the entire season.
If he sits, then the Ags will make a bowl game but will struggle to compete in the West division of the SEC. The Ags' prospects for 2013 will be largely determined by who lines up under center during the Aggies' first game on August 31.
This is a detailed guide to the Texas A&M football team's 2013 season.
The Bleacher Report experts take a look at the 2013 version of the Texas A&M Aggies. SEC writer Barrett Sallee and others give their perspective on what Aggie fans should expect in the coming season.
The 2012 Texas A&M football team shocked the nation by finishing the season with an 11-2 record and the No. 5 ranking at the end of the season. The highlights of the season included wins over No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and a 41-13 victory over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
The Ags were led on offense by redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. He completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,706 yards with 26 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns.
For his outstanding efforts on the field, Manziel was awarded the Heisman Trophy. He was the first freshman to ever win the award.
Manziel was not the only player on the team to win national hardware. Junior left tackle Luke Joeckel won the Outland Trophy as the best lineman in America.
Manziel, Joeckel, junior right tackle Jake Matthews and junior defensive end Damontre Moore were all named first-team All-Americans.
While Manziel led the Ags in rushing yardage, junior running back Ben Malena turned in a very solid season. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry while rushing for 808 yards and eight touchdowns.
Wide receivers Mike Evans and Ryan Swope led the Aggie receiving corps. Evans set a freshman school record with 82 receptions for 1,105 receiving yards.
Swope finished off his A&M career in style. The senior receiver caught 72 passes for 913 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Aggie defense was led by Moore. He racked up 85 tackles with 21 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. Moore was named first-team All-SEC.
The defense allowed 390 yards and 21 points per game. They came up with big stops when needed and were instrumental in the Ags' successful inaugural season in the SEC.
The 2012 season was the first at A&M for defensive coordinator Mark Snyder. His crew allowed only 3.7 yards per rushing attempt. That is tremendous for a strong running conference like the SEC.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin took over the Aggie program at a time of transition. They were headed to a new conference with a new offense and a new quarterback.
Sumlin and the Aggies shocked the nation with their 2012 season and, in the process, changed the perception of the Texas A&M program.
1. SO Johnny Manziel 6'-1", 200 lbs
2. JR Matt Joeckel 6'-4", 234 lbs
1. SO Edward Pope 6'-4", 180 lbs
2. FR JaQuay Williams 6'-3", 210 lbs
1. SO Mike Evans 6'-5", 225 lbs
2. SR Derel Walker 6'-2", 185 lbs
1. SO Sabian Holmes 5'-11", 175 lbs
2. SR Gaston Lamascus 5'-6", 182 lbs
1. JR Malcome Kennedy 6'-0", 196 lbs
2. SR LeKendrick Williams 5'-8", 170 lbs
1. SR Ben Malena 5'-8", 195 lbs
2. SO Brandon Williams 6'-0", 196 lbs
1. JR Cameron Clear 6'-6", 270 lbs
2. SR Nehemiah Hicks 6'-4", 255 lbs
1. SR Jake Matthews 6'-5", 305 lbs
2. JR Jeremiah Stuckey 6'-4", 290 lbs
1. JR Jarvis Harrison 6'-4", 330 lbs
2. SR Shep Klinke 6'-7", 305 lbs
1. SO Mike Matthews 6'-3", 285 lbs
2. JR Ben Compton 6'-4", 310 lbs
1. FR Germaine Ifedi 6'-5", 310 lbs
2. JR Ben Compton 6'-4", 310 lbs
1. JR Cedric Ogbuehi 6'-5", 295 lbs
2. SO Joseph Cheek 6'-7", 280 lbs
1. JR Gavin Stansbury 6'-4", 255 lbs
2. FR Jordan Points 6'-3", 260
1. SO Alonzo Williams 6'-4", 280 lbs
2. FR Hardreck Walker 6'-2", 300 lbs
1. SR Kirby Ennis 6'-4", 310 lbs
2. FR Isaiah Golden 6'-2", 305 lbs
1. SO Julien Obioha 6'-4", 255 lbs
2. JR Tyrell Taylor 6'-4", 230 lbs
1. JR Tommy Sanders 6'-2", 215 lbs
2. FR Brett Wade 6'-1", 225 lbs
1. JR Donnie Baggs 6'-1", 230 lbs
2. JR Shaun Ward 6'-2", 238 lbs
1. SR Steven Jenkins 6'-2", 220 lbs
2. SR Nate Askew 6'-4", 235 lbs
1. SO DeVante Harris 5'-11", 175 lbs
2. SR Otis Jacobs 6'-1", 190 lbs
1. JR Deshazor Everett 6'-0", 185 lbs
2. FR Noel Ellis 5'-11", 175 lbs
1. JR Howard Matthews 6'-2", 206 lbs
2. JR Clay Honeycutt 6'-0", 200 lbs
1. JR Floyd Raven 6'-2", 190 lbs
2. SR Toney Hurd Jr. 5'-9", 190
There are no major injuries to report at this time. Sophomore place-kicker Taylor Bertolet has been limited during Fall camp while he recovers from hernia surgery.
If he is unable to go, then walk-on kickers Kyle Serres or Josh Lambo will take his place. According to TopDrawerSoccer.com, Lambo is a former first-round pick in the MLS as a goalkeeper. He is now giving football a try.
Sophomore running back Brandon Williams has spent all of Fall camp in a walking boot. His status for the season opener against Rice remains up in the air.
The Ags have multiple players who fans should keep an eye on in 2013. Sophomore receiver Mike Evans is now 100 percent healthy after struggling with a hamstring injury during the 2012 season.
His speed and quickness has improved with his health. He may be the top receiver in the SEC in 2013.
Sophomore center Mike Matthews is replacing arguably the most important player on the Aggies' offense in Patrick Lewis. It will be interesting to see if Matthews can run to the ball and keep the offense running at the same pace that Lewis did in 2012.
True freshman wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones enters the season with a lot of recruiting fanfare. The 6'6", 240-pound athlete is a mismatch for anyone who lines up across from him.
If Seals-Jones can catch the ball consistently, then his length and speed will make the Ags' passing game very tough to stop.
Sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel is worth the price of admission by himself. He worked on throwing out of the pocket in the offseason. If he avoids suspension and plays in 2013, he will set a new A&M record for passing yardage in 2013.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin had a lot of turnover on his staff after the Ags' successful 2012 campaign. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kliff Kingsbury left to be the head coach at Texas Tech.
In hiring his new coaches, Sumlin stuck with his philosophy of hiring great teachers who are also tremendous recruiters. The early returns on the new staff have been positive.
8/31 vs. Rice
9/7 vs. Sam Houston State
9/14 vs. Alabama
9/21 vs. SMU
9/28 @ Arkansas
10/12 @ Ole Miss
10/19 vs. Auburn
10/26 vs. Vanderbilt
11/2 vs. UTEP
11/9 vs. Mississippi State
11/30 @ Missouri
BOLD = Games that will define the season.
With the departure of Kliff Kingsbury to Texas Tech, running backs coach Clarence McKinney was promoted to co-offensive coordinator and play-caller. New quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital is also the co-offensive coordinator.
The offense will still be Kevin Sumlin's version of the spread with a few tweaks here and there. With a once in a lifetime talent like Johnny Manziel at quarterback, fans can expect to see plenty of read-option out of the spread formation.
There will be a greater emphasis on the running game in 2013 as the Ags have enviable depth at running back. Ben Malena, Trey Williams, Brandon Williams and Tra Carson give the Aggies four running backs who they can win with.
Freshman James White has impressed during the Fall practices and may avoid a redshirt. At 6'0", 213-pounds, he has shown a nice burst to go along with his size.
The Aggies may have the tallest wide receiver corps in the nation. They can line up 6'5" Mike Evans on one side, and 6'6" Ricky Seals-Jones on the other. Add in 6'4" Edward Pope and 6'3" JaQuay Williams and the Ags' wide receivers bear great resemblance to a starting basketball team.
Cameron Clear and Nehemiah Hicks will allow the Ags to run a lot of 12-personnel in 2013. The two tight ends will offer the coaches a lot of options in the formations. They can both line up in the backfield as an H-back, line up on the end of the line, or split out wide and run a route from the slot.
The offensive line returns three of the five starters from 2012. Jarvis Harrison is the only player who is playing the same position as he was in 2012, as he remains at left guard.
All-American tackle Jake Matthews is flipping over from right tackle to left tackle. Cedric Ogbuehi is moving from right guard to right tackle. Germain Ifedi is taking over at right guard.
Mike Matthews takes over at center for the departed Patrick Lewis. The 2012 offensive line was the best offensive line in the country. The 2013 version may not be quite as good as their counterparts in 2012, but they should still rank as one of the top five or ten offensive lines in the country.
The Star-Telegram reports that Manziel again took time out of his summer to work out with quarterback guru George Whitfield, and has been working on his passing from the pocket. Aggie fans should expect him to surpass 4,000 yards passing in 2013.
Manziel's rushing numbers will go down as the Ags rely more on the running backs to move the ball on the ground. Do not be surprised to see the Ags run the ball more earlier in the season, as their young receivers adjust to the college game.
The Aggies will once again be multiple on defense under the leadership of defensive coordinator Mark Snyder. The philosophy of the defense under Snyder will always remain the same.
Stopping the run is the focus of the defense. Once you stop the run, you can make an offense one-dimensional, and then to a certain extent you can dictate what they can do.
The Ags excelled in run defense in 2012 allowing only 3.7 yards per carry. They accomplished that feat with very little depth or size on the defensive line.
In 2013 the Aggies will be much younger on the defensive line and will have to rely on freshman to play major roles, but they will be much bigger and have a lot more depth.
The Ags brought in three true freshman defensive tackles who will likely see the field in 2013. Hardreck Walker, Isaiah Golden and Justin Manning are all likely to avoid a redshirt.
All three possess the size and the strength to play in the SEC immediately. By the end of the season, Aggie fans should expect to see one of the three lining up at defensive tackle next to Kirby Ennis.
The senior nose guard will give the Aggie defense a nice anchor up front. Ennis will be suspended for the Rice game, so do not be surprised to see Golden start at the nose.
Snyder may simply choose to go with an odd front against Rice, so you would see Alonzo Williams start at nose, with Gavin Stansbury and Julien Obioha starting at defensive end.
As the season progresses, if one of the freshmen emerges at defensive tackle, you will see Williams move over to strong-side defensive end to give the Ags a stronger front four against the run.
Jordan Points and Jay Arnold are two freshmen defensive ends from Rockywall-Heath (TX) High School who are competing for playing time at strong-side defensive end. Do not be surprised to see Points avoid the redshirt.
Steven Jenkins returns at weak-side linebacker where he registered 79 total tackles in 2012. He is a play-maker and will compete for All-SEC honors in 2013.
Donnie Baggs started one game in the place of Jenkins in 2012, and will be the starter at middle linebacker for the Aggies. He gives the Ags more speed than departed senior Jonathan Stewart and should be better in coverage.
Tommy Sanders is a junior college transfer who will start on the weak side. He has the unenviable task of trying to replace Sean Porter.
The secondary was a weakness in 2012 but should be a strength in 2013. Deshazor Everett and DeVante Harris are both returning starters at cornerback.
Everett is one of the better corners in the conference and is already gaining attention from NFL scouts. Harris gained 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason and has been playing a much more physical brand of football.
Howard Matthews and Floyd Raven will be the safeties for the Ags. Like at receiver, the Aggies will feature one of the taller secondaries in the nation. Harris will be the shortest of their starters at 5'11."
Senior defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. will come on the field when the Ags go to the nickel. Senior corner Tramain Jacobs will offer depth at corner.
Do not be surprised to see true freshmen Noel Ellis, Tavares Garner and Victor Davis avoid a redshirt and see time at corner and safety in 2013.
Overall, the Aggie defense will be much deeper and a little faster than they were in 2012.
The biggest x-factor on the season right now is the unknown status of quarterback Johnny Manziel. If Manziel plays, then the Ags will be a competitor for the national title and a legitimate threat to put one of the greatest offenses on the field that college football has seen.
If Manziel is suspended for being compensated for signing autographs, then the Ags will simply try to win eight or nine games and qualify for a decent bowl.
Other than Manziel, tight end Cameron Clear is the big x-factor on the team. He may help transform the Aggie offense all by himself.
At 6'6". 270-pounds, Clear has the size to seal the edge on the line in the running game. He is also a huge target down the middle of the field and will give a passing option to whoever lines up at quarterback.
Clear can line up at H-back, on the line, in the slot or anywhere the Aggie coaches want him. He offers the coaches a flexibility in their schemes that no other player on the roster offers.
A lot of the recruits in the 2013 recruiting class received a lot of hype, but Clear will have the biggest impact of them all on the 2013 season.
The big question as the Ags enter the 2013 season is will he play? When the Ags take the field on August 31 against Rice, will Johnny Manziel line up under center?
Manziel's unknown status due to an alleged NCAA investigation has cast a pall over the typically exuberant expectations of Fall camp. It is hard for Aggie fans to get excited about the season when they do not know who their quarterback is going to be.
The issue of whether or not Manziel plays could have far-reaching effects. If he is suspended, will he join the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA? Will his lawyers file an injunction to allow him to play, and create a season of uneasiness like what Auburn experienced in 2010?
Will Texas A&M grow weary of the NCAA's apparent hypocrisy and help lead the charge to start a separate division for the major schools in college athletics, apart from the NCAA?
Will Manziel be suspended for a couple of games but play the rest of the season? Will he miss the Alabama game?
The fate of the Aggies' season and college football as we know it may rely on the simple question of, "Will he play?"
The Aggies are going to finish 11-1 in the regular season. They will lose to LSU at Baton Rouge to give them a 7-1 record in the SEC. The Ags will advance to the SEC title game where they will face Georgia.
Texas A&M will win a high-scoring SEC title game in the last-minute, with Johnny Manziel catching a touchdown pass on a halfback option pass from Trey Williams.
The Ags will go on to dominate Clemson in the BCS title game to give the Aggies their first national championship in football since 1939, and the SEC their eighth straight.
Manziel, Mike Evans and Jake Matthews will earn first-team All-American honors.