Texas A&M Football: 5 Players Who Should See Their Roles Expanded in 2014
The Texas A&M football team is going through the typical college football cycle of replacing veteran players who departed with the talented youth on their roster. There are several Aggies who will benefit from this turnover with increased roles on the team in 2014.
The 2013 version of the Aggies lost two of their biggest offensive playmakers in Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans to early entry into the NFL draft. That means the offensive coaches will need to look for new playmakers to put the Aggies on the scoreboard in 2014.
The Aggies defense was very young in 2013 with 15 freshmen or sophomores on the depth chart. The Aggies suffered through a lot of youthful mistakes on 2013 and put one of the worst defenses in the country on the field.
The Aggies' coaches' willingness to look toward the future of the program will pay off in 2014, as they return a number of players who saw a lot of snaps in 2013. There are athletes on the defensive side of the ball who will see their role expanded in 2014.
This is a look at a few of the players on both sides of the ball who will have greater a impact on the field in 2014.
TE Cam Clear
Texas A&M tight end Cameron Clear was used mainly as a blocker in 2013. With Jake Spavital taking over the play-calling duties in 2014, that should change for the talented tight end.
Clear matched his regular-season total of receptions in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl with two catches for 38 yards in the first game Spavital called the plays in. In the previous 12 regular-season games, Clear had a total of two receptions for four yards and a touchdown.
Spavital will utilize Clear in the passing game, which former offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney refused to do. Aggies fans should expect to see Clear get thrown the ball three to four times per game under Spavital.
With his 6'5", 260-pound frame, Clear is a mismatch for whomever the defense lines up against him. Spavital will take advantage of those mismatches in the coming season, and Clear will be a much bigger part of the Aggies' passing game.
RB Trey Williams
Johnny Manziel was one of the greatest college football players to ever lace up a pair of cleats. Sometimes the coaches relied too much on Manziel's otherworldly abilities to the detriment of his teammates.
Former offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney chose too often to use Manziel as a battering ram in the running game rather than hand the ball off to the running backs. This tendency was especially noticeable when the Aggies played against LSU on a windy Saturday in Baton Rouge.
The Aggies running backs had six total carries, while Manziel struggled to complete passes, going 16-of-41 on the day for only 224 yards. With a new quarterback under center in 2014, the Aggies coaches will rely on their running backs more to move the ball.
This will benefit rising junior running back Trey Williams. He is entering his third year in the program but has only 123 total carries during his first two years.
Williams has been underutilized since he has arrived on campus. That will all change in 2014 as the coaches lean on the running game more while they break in their new quarterback. Williams will benefit from this change more than any other player and will compete for All-SEC honors at running back.
WR Ricky Seals-Jones
Texas A&M wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones missed the majority of the 2013 season after getting injured during the Sam Houston State game. He caught three passes for 84 yards and a touchdown in the first game of his career against Rice.
Seals-Jones played outside receiver in 2013 but will play outside and inside in 2014. He has practiced at flex-tight end and H-back during the spring.
With Mike Evans' departure to the NFL, the Aggies will be looking for a big body at wide receiver to get the ball to. Seals-Jones can use his 6'6", 240-pound frame to block out defenders much the same way that Evans did.
Aggies fans should expect Seals-Jones to be among the team leaders in receptions and yards in 2014.
DE Daeshon Hall
The biggest issue facing the Texas A&M defense in 2013 was the lack of a pass rush. True freshman defensive end Daeshon Hall was the best pure pass-rusher on the team.
The issue for Hall was that at 6'6" and 243 pounds, he was often overwhelmed by the bigger and stronger offensive linemen in the SEC. Hall has added weight and is over 250 pounds right now.
He is sitting out the spring while recovering from surgery on both of his shoulders, but he will benefit from another offseason in the weight room to add strength and some more weight.
Hall registered 17 tackles with three tackles for loss and an interception in 2013. He will double those numbers in 2014 and give the Aggies a consistent pass rush from the defensive end position.
LB Jordan Mastrogiovanni
Rising sophomore linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni is going to be the Aggies' starter in the middle when they open the season against South Carolina. Whether or not that is a good thing remains to be seen.
Mastrogiovanni has good size at 6'3" and 235 pounds. He saw extensive playing time during his true freshman season because he was one of the few linebackers on the Aggies roster who had the requisite size to play linebacker in the SEC.
Mastrogiovanni started at middle linebacker during the Aggies' bowl game against Duke. He played in all 13 games in 2013 and registered 26 tackles with an interception.
The issue for Mastrogiovanni is that he struggles to consistently get off blocks and has too much wasted movement. As the middle linebacker he needs to diagnose plays and go attack the ball-carrier.
Too often, Mastrogiovanni is either blocked out of the play or simply waits for the offensive player to come to him. He will see more playing time in 2014, but Mastrogiovanni has a long way to go before he can become an effective SEC linebacker.