Mike Sherman will look to take Texas A&M to the next level in 2011 as the Aggies have failed to make the Big 12 Championship Game since their shocking win over Kansas State in 1998. This year the Aggies have the talent to become an elite program as they return 18 starters. Indeed, the powers in Texas seemed to have shifted from the Longhorns to the Aggies.
Texas A&M had one of the most underrated offenses in 2010 as the Aggies averaged over 30 points per game. After a quarterback controversy last season, Mike Sherman has finally named Ryan Tannehill the team’s starter for 2011. Tannehill was awfully impressive after taking over halfway through the season in 2010 as he led upsets over two Top 10 teams in Nebraska and Oklahoma State. Tannehill is a tremendous athlete and his athleticism and playmaking ability make him a dangerous quarterback in Sherman’s spread offense. Last season, Tannehill threw for 1,638 yards and 13 touchdowns, while tossing only six interceptions. Look for Tannehill to put up huge numbers this season with both his arm and legs.
The Aggies have one of the best running backs in the country in Cyrus Gray. Gray is the dark horse Heisman pick by many experts as he possesses a great combination of size and speed, which is hard to find in college football these days. Last season, Gray ran for 1,133 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also showed the ability to catch passes out of the backfield, as he caught 34 balls and recorded one touchdown. Gray will be the workhorse for this offense. Look for Sherman to get Gray going early to open up things for Tannehill and the passing game. The Big 12 is becoming a run-and-gun conference, and the Aggies fit that mold and will have plenty of success offensively.
Texas A&M returns All-American wide receiver Jeff Fuller, who caught 72 passes for 1,066 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Fuller has been rated one of the top senior wide receivers as his is 6’4 220 size has NFL scouts drooling. Fuller has great speed and size, which makes him a deep threat as well as a great red zone target. Tannehill will be looking Fuller’s way early and often.
Defensively, the Aggies return almost everyone from a unit that allowed 21 points per game a year ago. Texas A&M has one of the best secondary’s in the country with First team All-Conference defensive back Coryell Judie leading the way. Judie, now a senior, has been starting for the Aggies since his freshman year and has the experience along with a great skill set. NFL scouts have listed him as one of the best corners in college football, which is a fair conclusion in light of the fact that he led the Aggies with four interceptions last season.
If there are any question marks for this Texas A&M team it is who is going to replace Von Miller, who was a key asset to the Aggies’ pass rushing defense. Junior Caleb Russell will look to make a big splash as Sherman and his defensive coordinators have been very impressed with Russell. He has tremendous pass rushing skills and with some work and experience could potentially play at the level of Miller.
The Big 12 has transformed into a passing conference and Texas A&M has the weapons on offense to keep up with anyone. The Tannehill to Fuller combination coupled with Gray running the football makes for a dangerous offense. Unfortunately, the Aggies have a difficult schedule as they must play Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Arkansas. If Texas A&M can somehow knock off the Sooners in Norman, the Aggies have a chance to win their first Big 12 title in 13 years.
Written By: Jay Louis
Edited By: Jeff Keim