Saturday, April 28, 2012
The Tannehill extravaganza has been settled! He and Mike Sherman have been reunited in South Beach. We wish him the best of luck, but what about some of the other Aggies hoping to hear their name called...
Scott: Wow, we used over 1,600 words to fully dissect the Ryan Tannehill extravaganza... and I loved every bit of it. And while he will steal the early spotlight in regards to Texas A&M Aggies entering the NFL, we have two other intriguing names to explore: Cyrus Gray and Jeff Fuller.
I honestly, couldn't think of two Aggie football players that are farther apart in my mind. For all my normal anti-running back sentiments, I absolutely love Cyrus Gray. His vision, how hard he runs, how much he cared about the team, the glowing reviews from his coaches... everything pointed to him being the penultimate leader for Texas A&M. And guess what, he has got the skills to have a worthwhile NFL career! Will he be a game changer like Adrian Peterson? Most likely not. Can he become Rashard Mendenhall in the right situation? Absolutely. Running back is a revolving door in the NFL, and Cyrus definitely has the talent to keep one foot in that door for the next 7-8 years. My hope is that when the situation arises, he pulls himself through that door and finds some of the lime light. I honestly don't know where he will be drafted, but I have followed the NFL draft rather intently for the last decade and I would be VERY pleased if my team (Yes, the Cowboys... or any other team for that matter) snagged him in the fourth round.
Moving on to the next Martellus Bennett... the ever so polarizing Jeff Fuller. I actually think the Fuller will follow the same NFL path as Marty B. He will be touted as a top-notch athlete with legitimate skills, but will forever struggle to put in the time and effort to be great. He will have a distinct love-hate relationship with his fanbase (wherever he may land), building excitement every training camp as reports flood in that Fuller is in great shape and primed for a breakout year... then the season will roll around and disappoint will ensue. I have seen this story. Now, with all of that being said, if the Cowboys (the easiest situation for me to relate to) were to draft him in say the 5th or 6th round... well I could buy into that. Take a late round flyer on an underachieving athlete. I could be wooed by such things.
I have same love and passion for Cyrus as I do Tannehill. I believe they lived up to majority of their talent and left it all out on the field. Fuller? I definitely can't say the same for... maybe an NFL coach will whip him into shape... or maybe an NFL paycheck will further aide his slide into the oblivion.
What do you think Ben? Do you feel like touching on any of the other draft prospects? Coryell Judie? Terrence Fredrick? GO RANDY BULLOCK!
Ben: You may have just poked this bear with the stick, Scott. Few things get me as fired up as the demise of Jeff Fuller (a tribute to that demise), which is why I wrote about it a few weeks ago.
I admittedly don't pay much attention to pre-draft coverage, so I haven't seen where the "draft experts" (which is hilarious in and of itself) project Gray or Fuller to be selected. I am confident they will get drafted, and if you had a gun to my head I would probably say 5th round for Fuller and 6th round for Gray. Now that I say that, Gray will probably get drafted in the 2nd round and Fuller the 7th.
What I do know is I admire Cyrus Gray for being a stud from Day 1 at Texas A&M, and as for Jeff Fuller... yeah.
If the cards fall right, Fuller could wind up being a good third receiver who has a decent career. Gray will probably be a very solid backup. It all depends on the team that drafts them and the situation they come into.
The focus this weekend will be on Ryan Tannehill, and deservedly so. But I think it's pretty damn cool that Texas A&M has begun to establish itself as a school that can produce NFL talent. You only need to look at Von Miller for proof of that. And I have to face it, and give credit where credit is due: Mike Sherman did a fine job of developing talent at Texas A&M.
To end, I have one question for ya Scott. When do the games start?
Scott: When do the games start? The NFL draft is way better than the actual games! Uninhibited optimism, limitless potential, fresh starts... it's a beautiful time.
By the way, following my Cyrus Gray - 4th round claim, I take a gander at Todd McShay's full seven round mock draft and it has Gray in the 6th and Fuller not being drafted. Now this is by no means the most accurate prediction you will ever find, but hey, McShay dissects the NFL draft for a living, I do it as a hobby (although I do claim to have an impressive gut feeling around this time of year).
So with that said, I am feeling rather chipper at the moment, and I would love for the Cowboys (or insert your favorite team here) to draft Cyrus in 5th round to be the number 2 running back, snag some 10 ish carries a game and be an over all solid player. Give me Jeff Fuller, in the 6th round (its a crapshoot by then), and I will roll the dice with a truly talented player who could learn the ropes from say, Dez Bryant... wait... that doesn't sound right, I don't Fuller getting arrested in shopping malls. Ugh, my Cowboys pipe dream is hanging by a thread.
Go Morris Claiborne!
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Great point on the talent evaluators. They are the ones that get paid the big bucks to do this, so I trust they are better at scouting than me (although Dallas Cowboys fans may disagree - kill me). Surely, surely they know something the fans don't.
Tannehill IS talented. I'm not saying he isn't. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him bust big run after big run, efficiently get Ryan Swope the ball, and throw an occasional long jump ball to Fuller. I liked watching him play, I just never thought he was a first rounder much less top 5.
What I find hilarious in this whole process is the fact that Tannehill had a largely underwhelming career relative to UT's Colt McCoy, yet Tannehill will be a top draft pick and McCoy got taken in the third round, by Cleveland. How delicious would it be if the Browns replace McCoy with Tannehill???
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Texas A&M dropped a bomb (albeit an expected one) on the fan base this weekend when President Loftin revealed that a "transition plan" has been put in place to effectively begin Bill Byrne's days of playing golf full time at Miramont Country Club. While Byrne's contract, which runs through 2013, will be honored, he will not be the Athletic Director once Texas A&M begins playing in the SEC.
To be frank, I'm not sure what took so long.
In December, Byrne was made to look the fool by the administration when he publicly backed former coach Mike Sherman up to the day Sherman was fired. Loftin (cough, the Board, cough) destroyed whatever authority Byrne had as AD, making this "transition" was just a matter of time.
I could talk about Byrne's success in other sports, and lack of success in football, but you already know that.
I could go on a rant here about the absurd power structure of the Texas A&M Athletic Department (and to a greater extent, the University), but we have already done that.
The fact of the matter is any potential Athletic Director at Texas A&M is kidding himself if he thinks he will have the authority to make any real decisions.
That is not how successful athletic programs are built.
Friday, April 13, 2012
With that mentality, maybe Baylor deserves a little back-handed credit (oh wait, no... they are Baylor, and they knowingly broke the rules). Robert Griffin III will never be stripped of his Heisman. The rules broken during his recruiting were purposely picked to be non-athlete specific. They made extra phone calls, lied to him over texts, gushed about self-righteousness to him (while very much bending the rules), yet all of this was likely known, understood, and calculated. Once they were eventually discovered, Griffin would be far from ineligible or reprimanded.
That’s the trick (and maybe the soon to be trend). Break some rules, but don’t give up any wins. Take some recruiting trips but don’t give up Championships. What a noble sacrifice Baylor. Kim Mulkey illegally sat next to Britney Griner’s parents at numerous AAU basketball games, chatting it up about how great it would be to coach their daughter. Hold on… wait, this is woman’s basketball… I just got bored mid-sentence.
So the Baylor Compliance Department hands out a flier on how to "bend the rules" and the coaches (Scott Drew... don't think we have forgotten that you have pulled in top 10 talent at a school that should have no business doing so... the world is watching now) went off and made it count.
What can the NCAA even do about this? The rules are the rules, and breaking certain rules result in certain consistent punishments. Baylor read the rule book, considered potential punishments, learned the system, and took advantage.
Even now, none of the players illegally recruited will be ineligible. The success they are enjoying this year (and will enjoy the next 3 years) far outweighs the sanctions they will take. Their recruiting could not have gotten worse six years ago, so they were playing with house money, they had nothing to lose. Worst case scenario, they still get the bottom of the barrel talent and remain doormats. But guess what they got the best case scenario; a return to relevancy. Success across the board like never before seen in school history followed by a very blatant “oh we were breaking the rules? Here don’t worry; we’ll gently slap our own wrists”. In Baylor’s eyes, it’s better to take a whipping from the NCAA than its usual whipping on the field.
Who can blame them?
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Potentially unpopular opinion alert! I think running backs are the most expendable position on a football team. (Excluding peripheral positions like full back or tight end)
Now let me defend my opinion. In order for a running back to be deemed successful he needs to average roughly 4.0+ yards per carry. I personally think any D-1 level running back can achieve that benchmark behind a good-to-great offensive line. Assemble an elite offensive line; find a creative coach, and boom! You just made that running back a Heisman contender (assuming the W’s follow that elite offensive line and creative coach).
A few disclaimers… an elite college running back can swing a college football team, the talent gap across the nation is far greater than it is in the NFL (which is where I originally developed my unpopular opinion; 1,000 yard rushers grow on trees in the right system). It just bothers me when the Heisman race is ALWAYS between the best quarterbacks (the most crucial position on field) and the running backs with the best statistics. It’s the offensive lineman who deserve that trophy, they are the ones who open up the first hole and get those backs to the glorious green grass. Stick an elite running back behind a subpar offensive line, good luck cranking out 100-yard games.
With that being said… thank goodness the Aggies have a near elite level offensive line developing (that of which we will break down next week). The SEC will demand us to perform in the trenches, and I think our O-line (and the backs runnin’ behind them), has the right mixture of power and finesse to thrive.
Now please do excuse me for a quick 180 degree turn to praise one of my favorite Aggies to come along in quite some time, Cyrus Gray. That guy was an all-american teammate and all-american performer. His leadership, his toughness, and his attitude will be missed. Thank you Cyrus.
Upon his arrival to Texas A&M as the Aggies' first 5-star recruit since Martellus Bennett, Michael was lauded as the dynamic game-changer at running back. With a marvelous blend of speed, agility, and power, Christine Michael certainly possesses the tools to terrify opposing defenses. In fact, Michael has been stellar during his time at Texas A&M - when he's healthy. Gruesome leg injuries have robbed Michael of potentially great sophomore and junior seasons. In both cases, Michael was on pace to break the 1,000 yard mark at the time of injury. Although Cyrus Gray picked up the slack, the Aggies have missed Christine Michael. His experience in the backfield can't be understated as A&M moves into the SEC. No one can question his talent and production when he is healthy, but one question that remains unanswered is how Michael will fit into Kevin Sumlin's offense. We will know more as spring practice progresses.
In his first meaningful action as an Aggie, Ben Malena picked up 160 yards on 48 carries in the final two games in 2011. Malena got the chance to prove himself last season when both Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray went down with injuries. I had no idea what to expect from him, but I was pleasantly surprised with Malena's production against Texas (one of the nation's best defenses) and Northwestern. Malena certainly isn't going to win a Doak Walker, but I feel comfortable with him getting some playing time. If he can find a way to contribute by catching passes out of the backfield, Malena could find himself being the Aggies' change-of-pace running back until Trey Williams is ready. Which reminds me...
Wow. If you haven't watched Williams' high school highlight reels on YouTube, do it now. Stop reading this, and watch the videos. Williams arrives to A&M as the program's most highly decorated recruit in years. More than 8,000 yards rushing and 86 TD over the span of a high school career in Texas will do that for a guy. Williams has the kind of natural ability that makes football fans drool, including me. I'll say this: Coach Sumlin must find a way to get the ball to Trey Williams.