Over the past two seasons, the Texas A&M football team has been led to unprecedented heights in exposure and level of play by quarterback Johnny Manziel.
In 2014, Kenny Hill will do his best Tee Martin impersonation and lead the Aggies to the national title.
Peyton Manning was a legend at Tennessee before he ever became an NFL icon. When he decided to return to Tennessee for his senior season it set off a huge celebration and endeared him to Volunteer fans for a lifetime.
Manning never won a national title at Tennessee. That happened the year after he graduated, when Martin led a team loaded with NFL prospects to the 1998 national championship.
Manziel will not be back to lead the Aggies in 2014. Texas A&M's All-American wide receiver Mike Evans will likely join Manziel as the two pursue their dreams of playing in the NFL.
The 1997 Tennessee team lost their top passer in Manning and top receiver in Marcus Nash to the NFL. The Vols rode an elite defense and Martin's playmaking ability to the title.
The Next In Line
When Manziel moves on to the NFL, Hill will step in and take over at quarterback. The sophomore from Southlake, Texas has been very solid in relief of Manziel in 2013.
He has completed 72.7 percent of his passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. Hill has also rushed for 37 yards on seven carries.
Manziel and Hill are different types of players. While Manziel will take his time and use elusiveness to avoid defenders in the backfield, Hill gets the ball out quick and runs the offense. Manziel is more of a gambler than Hill. He is constantly looking for the big play, while his heir apparent is content to methodically move the offense down the field.
Manziel is a finesse runner who uses his quickness and speed to run around tacklers. Hill is a power runner who will use his 220-pound frame to move the pile.
You cannot replace what Manziel meant to the team and the Texas A&M program. Hill will replace some of his productivity, but he is going to need help from his teammates.
Even if Manziel and Evans declare early for the draft, the Aggies will return six starters on offense. They will return four of their starters on the offensive line.
Cedric Ogbuehi will move over to left tackle to replace All-American Jake Matthews. Incoming freshman Jermaine Eluemunor will likely take over at right tackle in what should be a very strong offensive line.
James White is redshirting in 2013 but will be able to contribute at running back in 2014. White is close to 220 pounds, and he and 230-pound Tra Carson will combine to give the Aggies a powerful rushing duo next season.
Malcome Kennedy is second on the team in 2013 with 55 receptions for 606 yards and seven touchdowns. He will return to lead the receiving corps. Ricky Seals-Jones will be healthy after a knee injury cut his 2013 season short.
The 6'5", 225-pound Seals-Jones will attempt to replace some of Evans' productivity. His size and wingspan at the wide receiver position should be helpful to a young quarterback.
The defense is where Aggie fans will see the biggest change in 2014. A unit that ranked among the worst in the nation in 2013 will take a quantum leap forward.
The 2014 defense will return eight starters. A defense that has nine true freshmen in the two-deep in 2013 will benefit from that experience in 2014.
Daeshon Hall will have a year in the strength program to get prepared for life in the trenches in the SEC. He and incoming freshman Myles Garrett should help provide the pass-rush that has been lacking in 2013.
The entire secondary returns, while Brett Wade and Reggie Chevis will add some size to the linebacker position. The entire defense will have more size and experience in 2014.
The Aggie offense will not score on almost every possession like they did in 2013. But the defense will have the talent and experience to help the Aggies win games.
A Whole New World
In 2014 the college football world will change. Teams will not have to be flawless throughout the season to play for the national title. They will just have to be one of the top four teams in the nation.
The implementation of the playoff system into college football will be a boon to the Aggies. The SEC is considered the best conference in the nation, and the esteem in which it is held basically guarantees that the Southeastern Conference champion will make the four-team playoff.
Alabama will lose four starters on offense to graduation, including quarterback AJ McCarron to graduation. They will likely lose left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio to the NFL. The Tide will lose four starters on defense, with star safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix likely declaring for the draft.
Alabama will always be an elite team as long as Nick Saban is the head coach. However, they will be vulnerable in 2014, and Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has already shown he is capable of beating the Tide in Tuscaloosa.
LSU will likely lose Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Jeremy Hill to early entry into the NFL draft. They will also lose quarterback Zach Mettenberger to graduation. The Tigers will only lose two starters on defense, and they should be vastly improved on that side of the ball in 2014.
The SEC will always be tough, but the Aggies' toughest opponents in the SEC West are losing significant playmakers on offense. Even if the Aggies do not win the conference outright, they can still qualify for the playoffs if they have a good showing and finish the season as one of the country's top four teams.
Sumlin has already shown that he can lead his team to victory on the road. Teams from the Pac-12 and Big 12 are not going to be able to prepare for the Aggies' spread offense in one week.
The current design of the playoff is an advantage to teams like A&M that run a somewhat unconventional offense. If they can get through the first round of the playoffs to the championship game, the opposition will only have one week to prepare.
The 2014 Aggies will have the talent, depth and playmakers in place to win the national championship in the new playoff format.
They will show that the Aggies are more than just Johnny Manziel and a cast of characters.