By Michael Briggs @MichaelSBriggs on July 5, 2014
Texas A&M kicks off the post-Johnny Manziel era with some question marks, but there is enough talent to help keep their position among the SEC's premier programs. Uncertainty at the quarterback position with Kenny Hill and Kyle Allen is concerning, but even if Johnny Football's successor doesn't have a similarly-rapid rise to glory, the Aggies have more than a few other breakout candidates. Here are five players to watch out for this season.
With the unexpected departure of fellow defensive lineman Isaiah Golden, senior Gavin Stansbury will have a lot of pressure to pick up the slack for A&M. With a mix of young players likely to get playing time, Stansbury will be the undisputed leader of the unit in 2014 after leading the Aggies' defensive line with 47 tackles and three sacks last season (including 19 combined tackles and two sacks against Auburn and Vanderbilt).
Everett finally has some position continuity after switching back and forth from corner to safety, which will be important for an Aggies' secondary lacking consistency. With two defensive touchdowns and two picks in 2013, the senior from Louisiana has been tabbed by some as an All-SEC candidate on defense, which is something A&M could certainly use more of. Along with fellow starter DeVante Harris, Everett will lead a very good group of corners.
Although he only had two receptions in 2013, Clear can certainly be a key player in the A&M offense this season. Slated as the new starter at tight end after the departure of Nehemiah Hicks, the 6-foot-6 former Tennessee Volunteer is a solid body to toss balls up to in the red-zone, at the very least. Expect plenty more catches from Clear like last year's touchdown snatch against Alabama.
Seals-Jones was a coveted recruit and it's easy to see why with his Mike Evans-like measurables. A 71-yard touchdown grab against Rice before a season-ending injury was a major tease of what's to come in 2014, as the redshirt freshman figures to finish first or second on the Aggies squad in receiving yards. No matter which quarterback ends up winning the starting job, he'll be pleased to know he has a safety valve like Seals-Jones.
Carson was mostly featured in goal-line and short-yardage situations last season, but the 6-foot, 230-pound Oregon transfer is actually a pretty balanced runner more than capable of highlight reel plays in the open field. Although his name might not come up first, second or even third when discussing the SEC's best running backs right now, Carson will be a household name by the end of 2014 as the Aggies' feature back.
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