Monday, March 19, 2012

Life After Fuller: The Wide Receivers

In the second installment of our analysis of the roster for next season, we take a look at the wide receivers. Everyone always talks about defense being the key to success in the SEC. I beg to differ. Arkansas has enjoyed reasonable success the past few years because of an explosive offense. Under new coach Kevin Sumlin, I think Texas A&M’s offense has the potential to be better than Arkansas’s. In fact, the Aggies are going to have to be.
It will be up to the receivers this season to help the new quarterback succeed. The experience in the receiving corps will be vital to the offense's transition. Ryan Swope, who has been nothing short of outstanding in his time at A&M, will have to kick it into another gear. Something tells me that won’t be a problem. Swope is a game-changer that makes everyone around him better. What the Aggies need is someone to replace Jeff Fuller on the outside and give the offense a deep threat to keep defenses honest.
Without further ado, here are the receivers:
Swope was undoubtedly the Aggies' most consistent receiver in 2011, with 89 catches for 1,207 yards and 11 TD. Swope set the bar quite high for himself last year. Whoever the new QB is in 2012 has to like the fact that one of the most electric wide receivers in the nation decided to return for his senior season. Swope's numbers may dip slightly this year because of the new QB and the SEC defenses, but expect him to continue to excel.
Nwachukwu burst onto the scene in 2009 with a stellar freshman year. His number took a noticeable dive in 2010, and they didn't get much better in 2011. The rise of Ryan Swope probably had more to do with that than anything, but Nwachukwu will need to be better in 2012. With Jeff Fuller gone, Nwachukwu should have more opportunities to make his mark on the offense. His leadership will be counted on as the team transitions.
McNeal was a victim of injuries in 2011, robbing what we all hoped would be a breakout season for the receiver. He is also dangerous in the return game, so hopefully he can get back to full strength in 2012 and become a weapon for the Aggies.
Nate Askew, Junior

Askew is a physical specimen that has the potential to terrorize opposing defenses. With the size of a tight end and the speed of a wideout, one can't help but remember the days of Marty B when watching Nate Askew. For some reason though, it hasn't quite all come together for Askew. The offense could use a big threat like Askew in the red zone.

Malcolme Kennedy, Sophomore
Kennedy is a gifted athlete that began to make his presence know toward the end of the 2011 season. He only had 11 total catches, but they all came in the second half of the season. Expect Kennedy to have an expanded role in 2012.
Johnson is a highly prized recruit that the Aggies were able to flip from UT on Signing Day. Landing Johnson helped soften the blow of Bralon Addison spurning A&M for Oregon. Johnson was ranked as the #4 WR in the nation according to Rivals and he also runs a 4.4 40. Translation: he is good and fast. Sumlin may want to bring him along slowly because of the receiving group's experience, but Johnson is a playmaker that needs to be on the field.

Hutson Prioleau/Nehemiah Hicks

So disappointing in 2011 that I really don't want to write another sentence. Get better in 2012, gentlemen.

Bottom line: the wide receivers, as a whole, are a source of strength for this team. They will need to be solid as the team transitions into a new offense and new conference, with a new quarterback. We know A&M isn't going to win with defense in 2012 (thank you, Captain Obvious), so the receivers will need to step up and put points on the board. Ryan Swope will be leaned upon heavily and should be everything we expect him to be. It’s the guys around him that need to elevate their play and fulfill their potential.

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