Position-by-Position Review of Texas A&M's 2014 Roster
The Texas A&M football team has a roster that is almost completely stocked full of SEC-level talent. There are still some depth issues at certain positions, but the coaches have done a tremendous job of turning over the roster in the last three recruiting classes.
In order to be an elite program in the SEC, you need to be three-deep at every position. When the Aggies entered the SEC in 2012, they had good starters but suspect backups. In 2013, they lost a lot of those starters on defense and were forced to go with a youth movement that resulted in one of the worst defenses in the country.
The Aggies will benefit from suffering through those youthful mistakes in 2013 with a more experienced roster in 2014. The Aggies are not three-deep across the board yet, but they are making strides in that direction.
This is a position-by-position breakdown of the Aggies roster in 2014.
There will be four quarterbacks on the Aggies' 2014 roster, but only two of them will be scholarship quarterbacks. True freshman Kyle Allen and sophomore Kenny Hill will fight it out for the starting quarterback spot during fall practice.
Conner McQueen and Jordan Traylor are walk-ons who are likely going to spend the season on the bench. Allen was the top-rated quarterback in the 2014 recruiting class, according to 247Sports.com.
Hill is a dual-threat quarterback who completed 16 of 22 attempts for 183 yards and a touchdown in backup duty in 2013. He offers more of a running threat at the position than Allen.
Ideally, they would have four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, but the Aggies have had two transfers from the position during the last two seasons. If the Aggies have a rash of injuries at the position, then they could be in some real trouble.
The running back position is one of the deepest on the Aggies roster. The Aggies will feature four scholarship running backs at the position and nine total players on the roster.
The Aggies have three junior running backs in Trey Williams, Tra Carson and Brandon Williams, along with redshirt freshman James White on scholarship.
Brandon Williams rushed for 269 yards in 2013, while Carson rushed for 329 yards and Trey Williams rushed for 407 yards. The trio averaged 6.1 yards per carry.
White is a 6'0", 220-pound freshman who will bring a power component to the position. He and Carson should see a lot of playing time in short-yardage and red-zone situations.
The Aggies' four backs offer a lot of options in play-calling. They can all get out of the backfield and catch passes. Trey and Brandon Williams are both fast enough to line up in the slot. The running backs on the A&M roster will compare favorably with any group of backs in the SEC.
The Aggies have a young but talented group at wide receiver. There will be 16 wide receivers on the 2014 roster, with 11 of them on scholarship.
Senior Malcome Kennedy is the Aggies' leading returning receiver with 60 receptions for 658 yards and seven touchdowns. Sophomore slot receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez is next with 21 catches for 240 yards and one touchdown.
Sabian Holmes returns for his junior season after catching 17 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown in 2013. Redshirt freshman Ricky Seals-Jones is a 6'6", 240-pound walking mismatch for defensive coordinators.
He will play in the slot, on the outside, at flex tight end and at H-back in 2014. The coaches are going to move him around in order to create mismatches that favor the offense.
Speedy Noil is a 5'11", 193-pound true freshman who will be able to play inside and outside for the Aggies. Big things are expected from the highly touted recruit, who enrolled early and participated in spring practice.
Josh Reynolds also participated in spring practice, and the junior college wide receiver served notice that he will be an impact player in 2014. He may be in the starting lineup when the Aggies take the field against South Carolina on August 28.
Kyrion Parker redshirted in 2013 while he earned praise for his play on the scout team. He is another receiver that Aggies fans are looking forward to seeing in 2014.
Frank Iheanacho and Jamal Jeffery are incoming freshmen from the 2014 recruiting class. Expect Jeffery to redshirt while Iheanacho will use his 6'6", 225-pound frame to give the Aggies another red-zone option in 2014.
The Aggies are young with only one senior at the position, but they are as deep and talented as any group in the country.
The Aggies have four tight ends on the roster, with two on scholarship. Only Cam Clear will see playing time with the offense. Brandon Alexander is a converted defensive end who may contribute on special teams.
Clear is a 6'6", 270-pound monster who will play on Sundays in 2015. He is an excellent blocker but was underutilized in the passing game in 2013.
With Jake Spavital taking over the play-calling duties in 2014, Aggies fans should expect to see Clear become a significant part of the Aggies passing game. Ricky Seals-Jones will also see some time at right end when the situation calls for it.
They have one legitimate tight end on the roster right now in Clear. Ideally, they would have at least one more tight end who can offer them options as a blocker in two-tight end formations.
There will be 21 offensive linemen on the roster when the Aggies open fall camp. Four of the 21 will be walk-on players.
The starting offensive line in 2014 will be Cedric Ogbuehi at left tackle, Jarvis Harrison at left guard, Mike Matthews at center, Germain Ifedi at right tackle, and either Garrett Gramling, Joseph Cheek, Avery Gennesy or Jermain Eluemunor at right guard.
The Aggies should have a solid second team in 2014. Do not be surprised to see Gramling get the starting nod at right guard. If that happens, then the second team will likely consist of Cheek at left tackle, Ishmael Wilson at left guard, Ben Compton at center, Eluemunor at right guard and Gennesy at right tackle.
If Harrison is hurt in a game, do not be surprised to see Compton move over to guard to fill in at that spot. Wilson is the weakest member of that group, and ideally the coaches would like to have someone a little better at that position in 2014.
The Aggies have three freshmen offensive linemen in the 2014 recruiting class who will arrive in August. Expect Kealvin Davis, Koda Martin and Zach Ledwik to all redshirt. The position is not quite three-deep yet, but it is getting better with every recruiting class.
There will be 19 defensive linemen on the roster when the Aggies report to fall camp. Of those 19 linemen, 15 of them will be scholarship players.
The Aggies did not establish a pass rush from their front four in 2013. That should change in 2014 as an infusion of young talent along with the natural maturation of the roster will give the Aggies a better unit in their third season in the SEC.
Junior Julien Obioha will start at strong-side defensive end where he started during the 2012 season. Alonzo Williams will start the year as the defensive tackle next to nose guard Isaiah Golden. Sophomore Daeshon Hall will start at weak-side defensive end.
Golden and Hall both played extensively as true freshmen in 2013. On the second team, they will have Gavin Stansbury at strong-side defensive end, Justin Manning at defensive tackle, Zaycoven Henderson at nose guard and true freshman Myles Garrett at weak-side defensive end.
Garrett is so talented that he will likely push his way into the starting lineup before the season is over. Henderson could push Williams out of the starting spot if the coaches decide to go with a front focused on stopping the run.
Jay Arnold and Hardreck Walker will provide depth on the interior. Incoming freshmen Jarrett Johnson, DeShawn Washington and Qualen Cunningham will compete for playing time in the fall.
One of the more interesting developments at the position was defensive end Darrell Jackson signing with the Aggies last week. Jackson went to Blinn Junior College as a safety and quickly grew into a 6'5", 227-pound defensive end. He redshirted at Blinn in 2013 and will be immediately eligible in 2014.
Aggies fans should expect Jackson to help out on special teams and see spot duty at weak-side defensive end in blowouts.
The Aggies will have 17 linebackers on their 2014 roster. There will be 13 scholarship linebackers on the roster and four walk-ons.
The starting linebackers will be Shaan Washington on the strong side, Jordan Mastrogiovanni in the middle and Darian Claiborne on the weak side. Reggie Chevis will back up Mastrogiovanni in the middle, A.J. Hilliard will back up Washington and Donnie Baggs will back up Claiborne.
Obviously, the Aggies still have a ways to go until they have the kind of depth that is required to succeed in the SEC. Incoming freshmen Otaro Alaka and Josh Walker will have an opportunity to see the field if they show the coaches they are ready.
There will be 17 defensive backs on the roster when fall camp starts. There will be four walk-on players in that group.
The starters in the secondary will be Deshazor Everett and De'Vante Harris at cornerback. Howard Matthews and Floyd Raven will start at safety.
Because of the Aggies' anemic play at safety in 2013, true freshmen Nick Harvey and Armani Watts will be given every opportunity to earn a starting spot at safety.
If the starters remain the same, then expect Nick Harvey and Victor Davis to be the second-team corners. Jonathan Wiggins and Watts will be the second-team safeties.
Noel Ellis, Harvey and Alex Sezer Jr. will all fight it out for the nickelback role that was vacated when Toney Hurd Jr. graduated.
The safeties are the weakest position group on the team. The secondary has a long way to go before it can be considered an SEC-caliber secondary.