Playmakers Who Will Replace Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans' Production at Texas A&M
Just like that, a new era will begin at Texas A&M. The Aggies will have to redefine their team after losing their two best offensive weapons, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel and Biletnikoff Award finalist receiver Mike Evans.
Manziel became the king of college football as a redshirt freshman, claiming the Heisman and leading A&M to a prosperous first year in the SEC. Several talented signal-callers will be vying for his throne, including the No. 1 quarterback recruit for 2014, Kyle Allen.
Evans was always one of Manziel's favorite targets, but he emerged as one of college football's best receivers in 2013. Both will be taking their incredible abilities to the NFL draft.
With the remarkable pair heading out, we'll take a look at the impending battles to be the next in line for starting spots in Kevin Sumlin's prolific offense in College Station.
Note: All recruiting rankings and star statuses based on the 247Sports composite ratings unless otherwise noted.
The Race to Replace Johnny Manziel
Early in the race, it looks as though it will be a three-way battle to replace Johnny Manziel under center in College Station.
Manziel finished his career just shy of 10,000 total yards with 93 total touchdowns in just two seasons.
Either senior Matt Joeckel, sophomore Kenny Hill or true freshman Kyle Allen will take his place. Here is a breakdown of each.
Matt Joeckel, RS Sr.
Joeckel looked solid in his short time relieving Manziel last season, finishing the year 22-of-37 for 293 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
That familiarity with the system will help a bit, but it might not be enough for the 6'4", 234-pound Arlington, Texas native to win the job. He'll have to earn it this offseason.
Kenny Hill, So.
Hill saw very little time as the third-string signal-caller for A&M as a freshman, essentially doing just enough to burn his chance at a redshirt.
He threw for 183 yards and a touchdown while also running for 37 yards. That athleticism will be his biggest feature.
At 6'1" and 215 pounds, Hill would provide a closer transition in terms of running ability than Joeckel.
Kyle Allen, Fr.
Allen joined Texas A&M as an early enrollee after being named an Army All-American and the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 247Sports composite rankings for 2014.
Despite the "pro-style" tag, Allen has some solid running ability and is far from immobile.
As a prep player and at the Army AA Bowl, he showed the makings of a future star at the position. The only question: How long will he have to wait to fulfill that destiny?
Replacing Mike Evans and Co.
Texas A&M will be hurt most in its receiving corps by the loss of Biletnikoff Award finalist Mike Evans, but it'll lose several other key players as well.
Including Evans, three of the Aggies' top four receivers from 2013 will be gone.
Between Evans, Derel Walker and Travis Labhart, A&M will have to replace nearly 3,000 receiving yards and 25 touchdown receptions.
Conveniently, the Aggies have done some great work on the recruiting trail to deal with the losses.
In the next 10 slides, we'll take a look at the next lineup in Texas A&M's deep receiving corps.
Malcome Kennedy, Senior (RS)
Malcome Kennedy will be Texas A&M's leading returning receiver.
He finished No. 2 on the team with 60 receptions for 658 yards and seven touchdowns despite playing in just 12 of 13 games.
As Evans' departure was inevitable, Kennedy has seemingly been the No. 1 receiver in training.
Unless a young receiver turns out to be as reliable as Evans, Kennedy should be A&M's top target next year.
Ricky Seals-Jones, Freshman (RS)
If any young receiver for A&M ends up being as dominant as Evans early in his career, it will probably be Ricky Seals-Jones.
He looked like he might be off to a remarkable freshman campaign after hauling in a 71-yard touchdown in the season opener against Rice.
However, he suffered a knee injury and took a medical redshirt, ending his season.
The 6'5", 225-pound freshman has ridiculously long strides and could be one of college football's best deep threats if he stays healthy and clicks with A&M's quarterback next year.
Speedy Noil, Freshman
Speedy Noil surprised many when he chose Texas A&M over LSU.
However, it's hard to blame the 247Sports composite 5-star from New Orleans for wanting to join Texas A&M's vaunted spread offense.
Noil is the No. 1 receiver and No. 8 overall prospect in the composite rankings for 2014, and he has enrolled early at A&M.
There's a great chance that the incredibly gifted Noil could see the field immediately for the Aggies. If the name didn't give it way, he's fast.
LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Sophomore
Texas A&M signed several talented receivers in its 2013 class, but none made a bigger first-year impact than LaQuvionte Gonzalez.
Gonzalez was a 4-star and the nation's No. 20 receiver. Despite his slight build (5'10", 165 pounds), he proved to be a reliable target for the Aggies.
He saw his role expand as the season went along and finished with 21 receptions for 240 yards and a touchdown.
He'll be behind Kennedy as A&M's No. 2 returning player at the position.
JaQuay Williams, Sophomore (RS)
At 6'3" and 210 pounds, JaQuay Williams has the physical tools to be a dangerous receiver for the Aggies and will look for an expanded role in his sophomore season.
Williams caught four passes for 71 yards and a touchdown, including a six-yard reception in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and a 20-yard scoring grab against Sam Houston State.
Frank Iheanacho, Freshman
The second blue-chip receiver joining A&M for 2014 is 4-star Frank Iheanacho.
The Houston native and No. 13 receiver in the nation announced his pledge for the Aggies at the Army AA Bowl.
At 6'6" and 220 pounds, Iheanacho could end up cracking the depth chart early based on his physical ability. The Aggies have several talented receivers ready to move into the lineup, but few have the physical prowess of Iheanacho.
Edward Pope, Sophomore (RS)
Of Texas A&M's returnees, Edward Pope will be one of the few physically capable of replacing Evans.
At 6'4" and 180 pounds, Pope has the size. He'll bring some experience too, though not much. Pope caught nine passes for 65 yards last year.
He'll have to fight off several newcomers, but Pope will be one of few returnees who actually played with Evans and Manziel.
Sabian Holmes, Junior
Speedster Sabian Holmes will bring back a bit of experience to the Texas A&M receiving group, though he saw his role diminish late in the season.
He averaged nearly three receptions in each of A&M's first six games but only caught one pass the rest of the season.
The Southlake, Texas native finished with 17 receptions for 210 yards and a touchdown and will bring a career total 258 receiving yards into his junior campaign, though he'll have to beat out several talented players for a spot in the slot.
Sebastian Larue, Freshman (RS)
Sebastian Larue has decided to transfer to Washington State, 247Sports.com reported. Hat tip goes to several commenters for bringing it to attention.
--End of Update--
Sebastian Larue was an Under Armour All-American coming out of high school, but he took a redshirt in his first year in College Station.
The 247Sports composite 4-star could make a huge impact if he sees the field next year.
At 5'11" and 196 pounds, he could fill a role similar to Labhart or Walker for A&M.
Kyrion Parker, Freshman (RS)
Like Larue, Kyrion Parker took a redshirt in his first year after joining the Aggies as a highly touted recruit.
Parker was a 4-star prospect out of high school and will be battling for a starting role next year.
At 6'2" and 190 pounds, he has a frame similar to the departing Walker.