Texas A&M Football: Latest Texas Bowl News and Updates

Michael Taglienti@@miketag98Featured ColumnistDecember 14, 2011

Texas A&M Football: Latest Texas Bowl News and Updates

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    The Texas A&M football team is off this week as they finish finals and take care of academic issues. The Aggies will start practicing again on Saturday.

    A&M will have ten practices including a walk-through before they will play Northwestern. It is normal for one or two players to step up during the bowl practices and earn some extra playing-time in the bowl game. It will be interesting to see who steps up for A&M.

    With all the turmoil involved in the A&M coaching search, there are still some unanswered questions with regards to who is going to coach the bowl game for A&M.

    This is a look at some of the latest information on A&M and Northwestern as they head into the bowl game.

Who Is Going to Coach A&M?

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    Tim DeRuyter was named the Aggies interim head coach for the bowl game.

    It appears that DeRuyter is a top candidate for the Fresno State head-coaching vacancy. Some Fresno State blogs are already reporting that he has landed the job.

    If he is named the head coach at Fresno State, then it brings up the question whether he will serve as the head man over A&M for the bowl game or devote his time to the Fresno program.

    If he decides to concentrate on Fresno State, then one must assume that OL coach Jim Turner would be the interim head coach, while outside-linebacker coach Nick Toth would call the defensive plays against Northwestern.

Position Change for Northwestern QB

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    Northwestern sophomore QB Evan Watkins is changing positions. The 6'6", 245-pound quarterback is moving to tight end.

    Watkins was 10-21 for 76 yards with one rushing TD and one passing TD in their 2010 bowl-game loss to Texas Tech.

    Watkins was the third- or fourth-string quarterback and obviously saw more of a future for himself at tight end.

    The Aggies should prepare for a tight end option-pass from Watkins to a player downfield in the bowl game.

Texas Bowl a Homecoming for Five Northwestern Players

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    The Northwestern Wildcats will have five players who will be going home for the holidays with this trip to Houston.

    Demetrius Dugar from Aldine High School, Will Hampton from Cypress Creek, Christian Jones from Spring-Westfield, Venrick Mark from Houston-St. Pius and David Nwabuisi from Houston-Episcopal will all be going home.

    Altogether, Northwestern has eight players on their roster who played high school football in Texas.

    Defensive back Sherrick McManis is a Northwestern alum who is in his second year of playing for the Houston Texans in the NFL.

Aggies to Have Open Practices in Houston

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    Houston is A&M's No. 1 recruiting territory. To this end, A&M will hold open practices for the bowl game in Houston.

    That means that fans, potential recruits, current recruits and their families will get the chance to go out and watch the players practice and interact with the coaches.

    Texas A&M currently has 26 players on their roster who are from Houston or the immediately adjoining area.

No Word on Whether Cyrus Gray Will Play or Not

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    The playing status on Aggie senior RB Cyrus Gray is still up in the air.

    Gray suffered a stress fracture of the collarbone against Kansas and missed the Texas game.

    If Gray misses the game, then the Ags will again be forced to start their third-string running back Ben Malena.

    Evidently, a decision on Gray's availability will be made during the week before the bowl game.

    If Gray is out, expect to see more of freshman Will Randolph against the Wildcats. Randolph did not get any carries in the Texas game.

New Head Coach Sumlin Is out Recruiting

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    While the A&M football team finishes their finals and begins preparations for the bowl game, the new head football coach is on the road recruiting.

    Kevin Sumlin and current DL coach Terrell Williams visited with early enrollees Matt Davis and Kenneth Marshall last night to shore up their commitments.

    Expect Sumlin to continue to travel across the state in the next few weeks in order to meet in person with all of the recruits currently committed to the Aggies.

    The fact that Williams traveled with Sumlin indicates that he will be retained on Sumlin's staff. Williams is known as the best recruiter on the A&M staff, and he coached alongside Sumlin when they were both at Purdue.