Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Jeff Fuller Vanishing Act

The past few weeks have tremendously helped me recover from the 2011 Texas A&M football season. I guess recruiting has a way of doing that to you. It's easy to forget about the pain of the past when you have an exciting new coach ushering in a heralded class of young men. With Scott and Trey hyping up the new class and the "AggSwagg" movement, things are feeling pretty good right now.

But there is one thing that has been in the back of my mind for quite some time now, and I think the reason I'm writing about it now is because the NFL Draft buzz should really heat up soon. Since the only underclassman with a legitimate shot of being drafted (Ryan Swope) officially announced that he will return to Aggieland for his senior year, our gaze can be turned upon the graduating seniors. The Rundown will undoubtedly attempt to cover the A&M/NFL Draft angle in the coming weeks, but before we dive into detailed breakdowns, I wanted to pose a question.

What the hell happened to Jeff Fuller this year?

I remember in 2008 when Fuller flipped his commitment from Oklahoma to A&M. It was a huge get for Mike Sherman. (By the way, when did "get" become the recruiting buzz word? Kids these days!) Coming out of McKinney Boyd HS, he was considered a top WR prospect that would do great things at the college level.

Up through his 2010 junior year, I would say Jeff Fuller did some great things at Texas A&M. Who can forget his triumphant return from a broken leg to score THREE touchdowns against UT on Thanksgiving in 2009? Fuller almost singlehandedly kept the Aggies in that game. Another memory that comes to mind is his 2010 All-Big 12 campaign, in which he set the A&M record for receptions.

After such a strong junior year, some expected Fuller to forego his senior year and enter the NFL Draft. Fuller was projected as a first day pick, but he elected to return to Aggieland for one more year. The 12th Man rejoiced - our star receiver was back, and the Aggies were poised to reclaim Big 12 supremacy.

Obviously that didn't pan out as we had hoped. Unfortunately, neither did Jeff Fuller's senior year.

Fuller never seemed right in 2011. He dealt with various leg injuries and a concussion, and even got benched against Kansas State. Whether that was because of performance or attitude or both, I don't know.

What I do know is that the player I saw in 2008-2010 was simply not there last year. When watching the games, too often I found myself asking where Fuller was. He would disappear for long stretches, but then make an incredible catch. There was no consistency whatsoever.

When the team was continually falling apart in the third quarter, they needed someone who had been there before to rise up and lead. Who that someone is can be debated, but I am convinced no player on that team was as talented as Jeff Fuller. No Aggie had the ability to turn a game around like he did. That's the thing that irks me the most.

I hope Fuller goes on to have a successful career in the NFL. I wish him all the best. I just hate that my lasting A&M memory of one of the best athletes to ever step foot on our campus will be one of disappointment.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

#Outchea

We did our best in defining #MaroonGoon and #Outchea. I think we found success in the #MaroonGoon category, but we had to call in the expert (De’Vante Harris) for his take on #Outchea. Straight from his twitter handle, @Official_DH10: “#Outchea – Meaning to have a cutthroat mentality and ruthlessly control any street/field you touch! #AggSwagg That’s for Aggierundown.com Lol”

(For the record… we were way off on #Outchea)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

We're Back: Rundown Email Thread

It's been a while, hasn't it? Scott and Ben are back with a new chat wrap, inspired by Aggie signee DeVante Harris. This one gets interesting folks. Here we go...

Scott: DeVante Harris has spoken, and I feel obliged to listen.  I guess he was relatively pleased with Trey Bahney's #AggSwagg explanation and now he wants us to "define" #MaroonGoon and #Outchea. 
This is going to be a challenge. 
So why not crank this out together, email style.  Really get in touch with our inner #MaroonGoon.  Which, by the way, is where I will begin.  The MaroonGoon has got to be something similar to an absolutely, positively, red-ass, tradition-loving, reveille-protecting, farmer-fighting Texas A&M Aggie fan.  How does that sound to you?  Also, I am going to let you take the first stab at #Outchea...

Ben: So I guess we need to add a link on our website that is a dictionary for Aggie hash tags? This email thread is going to be hilarious - I can feel it...
I am going to say up front that I disagree with your definition. It's ok though! How in the world are we supposed to know what "Maroon Goons" are? But your explanation is the kinda thing I wanted us to confront when I suggested we start the Aggie Rundown last fall.
You know me - I'm not necessarily a fan of the redass, traditional, fighting farmer maroon kool-aid-drinking old Ag. I know you were heavily involved in Fish Camp at A&M, which tends to promote the rooting out of any kind of 2% behavior. By no means am I a "two-percenter", but one of the driving motivations behind the Aggie Rundown for me has always been to deliver a fresh dose of reality to the Aggie faithful. I think part of that reality is facing the fact that presenting ourselves as lovers of all things Reveille and overalls can sometimes have negative consequences.
The unique traditions of Texas A&M have stood the test of time, and probably always will. But as Trey more or less said last week, it's time to embrace the "AggSwagg" movement.
I wholeheartedly believe that the "AggSwagg" movement and the "absolutely, positively, red-ass, tradition-loving, reveille-protecting, farmer-fighting Texas A&M Aggie fan" are in direct opposition of one another. Specifically speaking, I doubt the 2012 recruiting class was convinced to come play for Texas A&M because we love our mascot, we have red backsides, or come from an agricultural background. They embrace ideas like "AggSwagg" because it's catchy, it's inspiring, and it's fun.
I think the "Maroon Goon" falls along the same lines. This new class of recruits has the makings of being special. I think they realize that. DeVante Harris is embracing the opportunity to play for Texas A&M, and his way of expressing that excitement is by calling himself a "Maroon Goon" - in other words, goodbye Wrecking Crew, hello Maroon Goons!
Harris is a great athlete that will play cornerback at A&M, and I think he sees his new defense as a bunch of Goons in Maroon that are going to terrorize the SEC. Let's hope this is how it actually plays out.
And now for "outchea"... I have been walking aimlessly wandering around Manhattan today - does that mean I am "outchea"? When you were raised in an area outside the big city, are you from "outchea"? Or is "outchea" a term used to describe something... Otherworldly? Extraordinary?
I don't think so. In risk of oversimplifying, I think "outchea" is another way of saying "out here" - like describing where one is at a given point in time. (I couldn't help but hear a very nasal professor's voice in my head as I typed that last line. I am so white. Wouldn't it be hilarious to ask an English professor to define "outchea"? Or better yet, a panel of writers at some kind of educational conference. Can Saturday Night Live please create a sketch like this? That has potential, right? Who's with me?!?!)
My move has been made, good sir. Your turn.

Scott: You know what really stuck out to me as I read your response... "goodbye wrecking crew, hello Maroon Goons!" 
A new beginning, a new conference, a new batch of players, and one new nickname.  I like it!  I have never been a big proponent of chanting "wrecking crew, wrecking crew" after every semi-significant defensive stand.  I wish I was around to truly absorb and enjoy the wrecking crew (I didn't begin my Aggie fan hood until I became a student), I have no doubt it was a beautiful sight, but I wasn't and I often feel like we are doing the real wrecking crew a disgrace when we continuously abuse the chant at questionable times.  Just my thought.  But I love the idea of Maroon Goons describing our future teams.  A bunch of football goons flying around a football field in maroon.  That sounds like something I want to root for. 
As for Outchea... I can't help but to think "ouchie" when I see it.  This doesn't give me much to work with unless I can mold it into something involving giving the other team an "ouchie".  But that is only if we are limiting it to the football field.  Is this term bigger than the gridiron?  Is this a social term that I have yet to be introduced to (I think that is obvious)?  I am going to have to ask DaVante himself... cause I am at a loss.
Also, is there a youtube sensation on the way for MaroonGoons or Outchea?  This seems like it should be in the works by some creative, media savvy college kids.  I sure hope so. 
The more I have read about or talked about or written about AggSwagg and MaroonGoons, the more I love it.  I love the positive energy, the unbridled optimism.  It's the offseason, and as far as I know we are going to be the SEC's next national champion.  Anything is possible for the Maroon Goons right?

Ben: The sky is the limit... But the ground is more realistic. At least in the near future. I know I'm going against a write-up we had on the Aggie Rundown here, but I really haven't bought into the "we are going to be better in the SEC than people think" argument. I just don't see it happening. The offense is going to hinge on the QB, and we don't even know who that is right now.
That said, I'm with you bro. I love the optimism, the new swagger, and the confidence that is flowing through the program and fan base right now. It is definitely an exciting time to be an Aggie. (Which reminds me, why did we have to attend A&M during the most mediocre period in A&M football history? This totally underscores your thought on the "wrecking crew" chants. So stupid and unnecessary. Epic fail!)
I like the idea of some kind of YouTube promotion for the new swagger. Historically speaking, A&M has a terrible track record when it comes to producing YouTube videos (Jerrod Johnson's "Thank You Aggieland" and the Yell Leaders' embarrassing "Tra-la-la" fiasco come to mind) but maybe someone with a little creativity and common sense can get the job done. I remember seeing a cool football video done by some students at Oregon recently. (Great, now I just opened Pandora's Box. I know you love all things Oregon...) All I ask is whoever produces said Aggie YouTube sensation, please don't beat it into our brains like Dude Perfect.
Big news out of Fort Worth today, as the Aggies' Big 12 replacement, TCU, gets busted for drugs! Imagine that. Rich kids and cocky athletes at private school were dealing narcotics. Never would have guessed that! You surely have some fiery opinions on the little Horned Frogs... Let's hear em!

Scott: Wait, I love all things Oregon? Where did you come up with that hogwash?  I am always entertained by their uniforms and maybe their offense from time to time, but do I love them? Absolutely not!  Honestly, after they stole Bralon Addison from us, they are definitely on my crap-list (made up list that I don't have).
Also, please don't remind me of the hardship we endured while attending Texas A&M and rooting for our beloved Aggies.  But you know what?  I am gonna again pepper you with positive energy and proclaim that it better prepared us to be truly thankful when we do turn this ship around for good!  Gotta know what it's like to be down, in order to full appreciate the greatness of the upswing.
Now to TCU... oh my... this could get ugly.  I grew up right near TCU and saw many of my friends go there, and in full disclosure, it killed me during college to see their team succeed (albeit against the most powderpuff competition possible) and my team sputter.  But I will stop myself there in regards to my own personal fanhood.  Now I definitely don't want to be naive and think that TCU is the only school who has drug dealing football players, I am sure tons of schools do.  Hopefully it reminds all the rest of the athletes that they aren't invincible and there are consequences to their actions.  They are student athletes who are receiving a higher education to play a sport they love.  Be thankful.  And I must stop myself there.
Wrap it up for me buddy!

Ben: So there you have it, another first-class email discussion between the two founders of the Rundown. Maybe someday we can join the 21st century and do some kind of podcast. For right now though, this is what we got.
From here on out, be expecting the pace of write-ups to increase slightly. I recently moved to Connecticut and Scott is in the middle of accounting busy season. The past month or so has been a little hectic, and we apologize for that. We have some big things planned for this spring, so check back often and spread the word! As always, thanks for your support. Email us at aggierundown@gmail.com or find us on twitter to give us your thoughts. Gig ‘em!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

AggSwagg

Trey Bahney is back to share his opinions on the hottest trend in aggieland... AggSwagg; as always we appreciate his contributions and we hope everyone enjoys

What is #AggSwagg?

The #AggSwaggMovement is the future of A&M Football.

Do you feel like you’ve heard that line before? Me too. But before I make any promises about the saviors of A&M Football, let’s take a step back for a second and look at the pieces that are coming together.

The 2012 recruiting class will be a special recruiting class. It will go on the books as Kevin Sumlin’s first class at A&M (though, admittedly, the vast majority of the work was done by Sherman and staff), it will be the first class of A&M athletes to sign into the SEC, and it will be the first top fifteen recruiting class for A&M Football since Martellus Bennett picked up the A&M hat in 2005 (speaking of, did you know A&M had top 15 recruiting classes in 2002, 2003, and 2005? Thanks again Fran). But the main reason why the 2012 recruiting class will be special is because of Matt Davis and the #AggSwaggMovement.

#AggSwagg is the confidence that the class of 2012 has; they know they CAN win at A&M and knows they will do what it takes TO win at A&M. Don’t take my word for it, here is Matt Davis himself from his Twitter account @That_DavisGuy:

And see, I had to correct this dude the other day. He was like, “Man I see your interviews and you talk too big. You acting like A&M is yours”. I said “You see, you're going to call me cocky because I want to start as a freshman? You're saying I talk too big because I want to play LSU? So I guess I should be scared and walk into Death Valley or Tuscaloosa expecting to lose?” You see no matter where I am, and who I'm with: I'm going to be me. And part of being a leader is being different from the pack, so that’s me. And that's another thing, People think we're saying we're better than the team with the #AggSwaggMovement and stuff. That's false.

We just want to win. Period.

This #AggSwagg is more than just a name. That's the brotherhood we have. That's having each others back. That's hard work. That's #AggSwagg. I was raised to win. Win At all times. If you're playing chess, win. If you're running, win. That's how I was raised. It's a learned habit.

See most people don't understand that, my next tweet will be one of the realest you've read: Winning and losing are both learned habits. If you lose a lot and you're a loser, you allowed that to happen.” 

Words like this don’t fall on deaf ears, they are heard by other big name recruits who agree. Trey Williams, Jordan Richmond, and De’Vante Harris are other 2012 Aggie Signees and avid users of the #AggSwagg hashtag. Even 2013 Under Armor All-American QB commit Khol Stewart has jumped on the #AggSwagg boat. While these guys still have a little while to get on campus (note: Matt Davis graduated in December and is already on campus so he can play spring ball), there’s someone else who is already living up to the #AggSwagg expectations: Texas A&M President, Dr. Bowen Loftin.

“Bow-tie” Loftin doesn’t refer to his leadership as “swag”, but he definitely carries confidence and hard work with him wherever he goes. In the summer of 2011, Dr. Loftin called Mike Slive, Commissioner of the SEC, and discussed a conference transition for Texas A&M University from the Big 12 to the SEC. He saw the writing on the wall (the lackluster leadership/structure/regulations in the Big 12), made a decision, and followed through with that decision. It took months of hard work and meticulous planning to navigate the muddy media waters, but he got the job done and made the right (and hopefully winning) move for the future of A&M Athletics.

Matt Davis and Dr. Bowen Loftin share a similar passion to be the best and to be amongst the best. As Matt Davis said “part of being a leader is being different than the pack,” and that could not ring more true than right now during this stage of transition at Texas A&M. We’re entering the League of Champions with determined leaders who know that winning is a learned habit. That’s #AggSwagg. That’s the future of Texas A&M Football.

P.S. In keeping with the Twitter theme, hit me up with comments @LunchTrey. Or just tweet Ben and Scott if you don’t ever want to see my comments on Aggie Rundown again.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Offseason

A week or so ago my cohort Ben Berryman had a great write up as he attempted to remove all of his “I bleed maroon” bias and write-up “a look into A&M through the eyes of a recruit”. I loved it. You know why? Because like Ben; I love recruiting, subjective talent reports, vibrant potential, and basically just the hope for a better tomorrow.

What kills me about losing in college football or basketball is that absolutely, positively nothing good comes out of it. In the pros I can slowly accept a losing season by the Cowboys or the Mavericks (my respective teams) and begin planning for an exciting draft pick that will ultimately lead to more fruitful talent. In college football it is the opposite. You win more, you get more talent; you lose, the talent goes elsewhere. That is why unfulfilled potential is the worst pain of all.

Now, it should be mentioned, recruiting rankings are subjective. It is merely a scout providing his opinions on the talent of a rapidly growing high schooler (far from an exact science). But with that said, recruiting analysts know what they are doing and more often than not can point out the most talented players. If anything it provides a sturdy basis unto which we can attach our hopes. Talent is a fickle thing for high school athletes. Once they set foot on campus it is then up to the coaching staff to help them find this so-called “greatness” that they have been told is a foregone conclusion. Time to go to work Mr. Sumlin.

Recruiting is also a large reason why I have come to enjoy the offseason far more than the regular season. Losing a recruit to another school is easily forgettable (there are always other fish in the sea to distract my internet surfing), but landing a top 100-talent… heck that almost feels as good as a real-life conference W. Losing conference games on the other hand, brings more despair and heartbreak than any human rightly deserves on his Saturday afternoon.

Thankfully, our struggles last season did not hinder us from pulling in some top-flight talent (thank you SEC brand image). We successfully landed a top 15 recruiting class and can now ride a wave of optimism into the touted SEC. I have all the hope in the world that Matt Davis (Mr. AggSwagg) has a rocket of an arm, that Trey Williams and Thomas Johnson are too quick to handle, and that DaVante Harris can become our own version of the Honey Badger. The sky is always the limit for recruits. Potential is truly tantalizing until it is either realized or, seemingly as often, forgotten.

I have a fortune from a Pei Wei fortune cookie in my wallet (true story) that reads, “the pleasure of what we enjoy is lost by wanting more”. It is a fantastic reminder to be thankful for what we have. Unfortunately, as an Aggie fan I have had limited pleasure in regards to what has happened on the football field for the past couple of years. Alas, our current recruiting class, the move to the SEC, and our victory in the Meineke “what’s its name” bowl has me thoroughly enjoying my favorite time of year… the offseason.