The Texas A&M football team has to replace 11 starters from their 2012 squad. How the 11 new players perform in their new role will go a long way towards determining what kind of season the Aggies have in 2013.
The Ags need to replace five starters from an offense that set an SEC record with 7,261 total yards in 2012. The biggest hit is at receiver where the Aggies lost three of their four starters.
The defense needs to replace two starters at every level. All-American defense end Damontre Moore left A&M a year early in order to enter the NFL draft. His departure left an unexpected hole on the defensive line.
With 11 new starters on the field the Aggies are going to be a relatively young team in 2013. They should improve as the year goes on.
This is a look at all the new starter on the 2013 Texas A&M football team.
Sophomore center Mike Matthews is going to have to replace departed senior Patrick Lewis. The value of Lewis' contribution to the team was evident when his teammates voted him co-offensive MVP for the 2012 along with Heisman winner Johnny Manziel.
Matthews spent the 2012 backing up Lewis and gaining valuable experience. Since the Ags played in so many blowout wins, Matthews was able to get extensive playing time.
At only 6'3" and 285 pounds, there is some concern that Matthews is too small to compete in the trenches in the SEC. Matthews is a well-built 285-pounds and should have no problem holding his own.
Aggie fans should expect Matthews to be a three-year starter at A&M, a likely All-SEC center as a senior and to follow his brother (and former teammate) Jake Matthews into the NFL.
Germain Ifedi was impressive enough as a true freshman that he was the backup to Luke Joeckel at left tackle in 2012. He traveled with the team to every game but did not play, and was granted a redshirt at the end of the season.
Ifedi lost 20 pounds during the offseason and is now walking around at 311-pounds. Ifedi moved from left tackle to right guard in order to replace Cedric Ogbuehi, who had moved to right tackle.
In 2014, it is expected that Ogbuehi will take over at left tackle for the departed Jake Matthews. Ifedi will be right in the mix of players to start at left tackle in 2015.
Since he has arrived in campus, Ifedi has displayed the kind of talent that would indicate that he is a future NFL player. It will be fun for Aggie fans to watch him grow before their eyes on the field.
Junior wide receiver Malcome Kennedy is the second leading receiver returning to the team.
Kennedy caught 26 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns in 2012. He will start in the slot for the Ags in 2013, and is expected to try to fill the shoes of Ryan Swope.
Kennedy is 6'0" tall and weighs 200 pounds. He is not overly big or fast. If he was timed in the 40, he would probably run around a 4.5.
Kennedy simply runs good routes and catches the ball when it is thrown to him. He has consistent hands, and possesses enough wiggle to make people miss in the open field.
Aggie fans should expect Kennedy to be one of the leaders of the Aggies young receivers in 2013.
Sabian Holmes is a sophomore wide receiver from Southlake, TX. He helped lead Carroll High School to a state championship in 2011, and was recruited as both a cornerback and a wide receiver.
Holmes originally committed to Baylor. but ended up signing with A&M. He struggled with catching the ball as a freshman, recording six receptions for 48 yards even though he saw action in every game.
Holmes has been one of the stars of Fall practice. He has consistently made plays in every practice and scrimmage. He will start in the slot opposite from Malcome Kennedy.
Aggie fans should expect Holmes to catch around 30 passes in 2013. He will become a difference maker at wide receiver for a team who is looking for some receivers to step up.
Derel Walker is a 6'2", 185 pound senior receiver who transferred to A&M from a junior college in 2012. He saw action in 12 of the Ags' 13 games and caught eight passes for 85 yards.
Walker was recruited to play in the slot and take over for Ryan Swope in case he entered the NFL after his junior season in 2011. Since Swope stayed, Walker backed up Swope in the slot in 2012.
He is moving to the outside in 2013. Walker is a solid player with good size and good hands. It will be interesting to see how long he can maintain hold of his starting position with talented freshmen like Ricky Seals-Jones and Edward Pope fighting for playing time.
Gavin Stansbury is a junior defensive end from Franklin, Louisiana who has quietly had a solid career at A&M. He has always given the Ags solid play on the defensive line when asked to come off the bench.
Stansbury will be a starter for the first time in his career in 2013. At 6'4" and 255 pounds, Stansbury has leaned up during the last year under strength coach Larry Jackson.
He will be an effective strong-side defender for the Ags. In 2012, Stansbury registered 11 tackles with a forced fumble. He is not the kind of player who is going to flash into the backfield and get a lot of sacks.
Stansbury is strong at the point of attack, and will hold up well against the run in the SEC.
Alonzo Williams is one of the most promising defensive players in the A&M program. The 6'4", 280-pound sophomore from Long Beach, CA had a tremendous spring and Fall camp.
Williams was a backup defensive end in 2012 who ended up starting the Cotton Bowl when classmate Julien Obioha was injured during bowl practices.
Williams responded with five tackles and was very strong at the point of attack. With the graduation of Spencer Nealy, William has moved inside to defensive tackle.
He has the size and speed to excel on the inside in the SEC. However, if the Ags can find a suitable defensive tackle from a group that includes Hardreck Walker, Justin Manning and Isaiah Golden, then you will see Williams move back outside to strong-side defensive end.
A defensive front with Williams and Obioha on the ends will be very tough for SEC offenses to run against.
Tommy Sanders is a junior college transfer from Butler (KS) Community College. He is taking over the strong-side outside linebacker spot that has been occupied by Sean Porter for the past three seasons.
Sanders has exceptional speed for a linebacker, which is good because at 6'2", 220-pounds he is a bit undersized. He is the size of some of the safeties on the A&M team.
Sanders enrolled at A&M in January and participated in spring practices and impressed the coaches. He has been active in the scrimmages during Fall camp.
Sanders offers Aggie defensive coordinator Mark Snyder a lot of flexibility in how to use him, due to his tremendous speed.
Donnie Baggs is a junior linebacker from Houston, TX. After spending 2012 as a backup behind Steven Jenkins at outside linebacker, Baggs has moved to the middle and will be the starter in 2013.
Baggs has been solid when has seen the field. He had 27 tackles with 1.5 sacks and an interception in 2012. He started for the suspended Jenkins against Louisiana Tech and registered a career high eight tackles.
Baggs is a tad undersized for a middle linebacker at 6'1" and 230 pounds. However, he makes up for his lack of ideal weight with above average speed.
Baggs will be better in coverage than 2012 middle linebacker Jonathan Stewart was. With Sanders and Baggs in coverage, the Ags should expect more interceptions from their linebackers than they had in 2012.
Floyd Raven is a 6'2", 200-pound junior safety from Kenner, LA. Raven drew national attention during his recruitment when his mother forged his signature on a letter of intent to Ole Miss, while Raven signed with A&M.
Raven has spent his first two seasons in College Station struggling to find his place in the Aggie defense. Raven is a gambler by nature, and likes to take chances when on the field instead of playing with the scheme.
Although he has the size and speed to play on Sundays, Raven has been a career backup because he would not play within the scheme. Even as a backup he showed flashes of brilliance. He had 16 tackles with a sack and an interception in 2012.
Evidently the light bulb went on for Raven during spring practice, and he began to excel after a position switch to safety. Raven will start at free safety for the Ags where his speed and physical play against the run should be a major asset.
De'Vante Harris started the very first game of his college career against the Florida Gators during the Aggies' season opener in 2012. He lost his starting spot at corner halfway through the year because of his inability to be physical against the run.
Harris came into Aggieland at around 160 pounds. Now he has added 15 pounds of muscle to his frame and is up to 175. Along with that muscle came some confidence, because he looked like a different player in the spring.
Harris had a devastating hit during the spring scrimmage. He is playing much more physically now. His cover skills have never been a question, but it looks like Harris is now going to be a complete player.
As a true freshman Harris had 35 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception. Look for him to improve on those numbers as a sophomore.