Texas A&M Football: 5 Most Intriguing Players to Watch Heading Into 2014 Season
Texas A&M Football Looks to Reload Heading Into 2014 Season
Over the last two years, Kevin Sumlin and the Texas A&M Aggies have taken the college football world by storm as they have combined to go 20-6 during their first two seasons in the SEC. Along the way they have won the Cotton and Chick-fil-A bowl games, seen Johnny Manziel win the 2012 Heisman Trophy Award, formed one of the most high powered offenses in all of college football and also seen their defensive unit struggle mightily in 2013.
Heading into the 2014 season it is clear that Sumlin will have some reloading to do in order to once again be amongst the best teams in the SEC, as they are losing Manziel, Mike Evans and Jake Matthews to the 2014 NFL Draft. This means that many youngsters will have to step up, including a number of the 22 recruits who are a part of the incoming freshman class that is unanimously viewed as one of the top 10 in all of college football.
With spring practices now in full swing it is clear that the Aggies are getting an early primer on rectifying a defensive unit that let up an eye-popping 460.3 yards and 30.9 points per game. Furthermore, they will have a chance to get a glimpse at who will be playing quarterback this fall and establish a clear front-runner for the skill position spots heading into fall practices and ultimately the 2014 season.
Unfortunately for Texas A&M fans, there will be no spring game to get a glimpse of who has the early edges and what players should be watched heading into the 2014 season. Because of this fact, I have taken it into my own hands to identify the five players who could and should be lighting up Kyle Field this fall. These players are all young, talented and will turn your head when you see them in action.
5. Isaiah Golden
Defensive tackle Isaiah Golden spent a surprising amount of time on the field last year, as after an injury to Kirby Ennis occurred he became a starter for six of Texas A&M's final seven games. For the whole of the season he picked up three tackles for loss and 32 tackles, and heading into the 2014 season the sophomore looks primed for a breakout role. At 6-foot-2, 330-pounds, Golden has excellent size, is exceptionally explosive off the line and the Aggies will need him to play up to his potential to help bring down the average of 222.3 rushing yards per game allowed in 2013.
4. Speedy Noil
Speedy Noil played quarterback in high school, but Texas A&M signed him as a five-star wide receiver recruit and expect him to contribute on the field in 2014. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound freshman won't wow people with his size, but he has legitimate 4.4-40 yard dash speed and great lateral movement. With top receivers Mike Evans, Derel Walker and Travis Labhart all out of town, there will be a real opportunity for Noil to become a top receiving threat in 2014.
3. De'Vante Harris
De'Vante Harris was one of a few bright spots from a Texas A&M defense that was woefully awful during the 2013 season, as he compiled 53 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, nine passes defended and one interception. Aside from putting up good statistics, Harris also stepped up his physical play in one-on-one situations, which combined greatly with an already athletic skill-set to provide an above average asset. The 2014 season will be Harris' junior year, and he will need to become a legitimate shutdown corner for the Aggies to take a real step forward defensively.
2. LaQuvionte Gonzalez
LaQuvionte Gonzalez will look to help fill the void that exists in the Texas A&M receiving corps, and he should have a leg up based on previous results. The 2013 season was Gonzalez's freshman year, as he compiled 21 receptions, 240 yards, one touchdown and has the mix of incredible explosiveness of the first step and open field moves to put up serious numbers. Gonzalez should become a great option at wide receiver in 2014 and could also become a top punt and kickoff return specialist.
1. Kenny Hill
The fight to become the next quarterback at Texas A&M is sure to be a hard fought battle, and the guy who will remind people of Johnny Manziel most is Kenny Hill. The sophomore quarterback has great mobility and is willing to take yards when they are available, yet he has a cannon of a right arm that will turn heads of fans and scouts everywhere. During the 2013 season, Hill went 16-of-22 for 183 passing yards and one touchdown in limited playing time, and he surely will make fans happy at Kyle Field in 2014 if he wins the starting job.