Based on Scott Woodward's comments earlier this week, it's a big year for Texas A&M and Kevin Sumlin. It's time for A&M to be better or else. Is that probable in 2017? Let's work it out.
A&M will be better...
Christian Kirk and Trayveon Williams. There are some incredible athletes on Texas A&M's roster and two of the best are wide receiver Christian Kirk and running back Trayveon Williams. Let's start with Kirk, he will leave A&M as one of the best if not the best receiver to ever don the maroon and white. It's not an impressive list, but Mike Evans, Ryan Swope, and Terrence Murphy ain't bad. Kirk not only helps the Ags in the pass game, but he's an elite return man as well.
Williams put the SEC on notice last year that he was ready for prime time. The Aggie true freshman had 1,000 yards and over 6 yards a carry in 2016. With the Aggies breaking in another new quarterback he'll be counted on even more in 2017. He's got the talent to build on his first season and be one of the elite runners in the conference.
The secondary will be solid. A&M returns four of five starters in the secondary including their best playmaker in Armani Watts. Watts missed time last year with an injury but his return is key to securing A&M's pass defense. Priest Willis, the UCLA transfer, was A&M's best, most physical corner last year. At 6-2, 200, he's a thumper and sure tackler. Then there's Donovan Wilson who brings a versatile, physical presence at safety/nickel. Watts and Wilson will temper the loss of Tampa Bay draft pick Justin Evans. Nick Harvey gained valuable starting experience at the other corner back. Roney Elam, Deshawn Capers-Smith, and Larry Pryor all add depth and size to the secondary.
A&M Will be Worse...
Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall are gone. The Aggies lost perhaps the best duo of pass rushing defensive ends in college football including number 1 overall pick Myles Garrett. Garrett was a once in decade college talent and his shoes are massive to fill. Add to that 3rd round pick Daeshon Hall and John Chavis lost a ton of talent. Hall and Garrett helped the Aggie's coverage efforts immensely by speeding up the internal clock on quarterbacks around the league. Without those two great talents an average A&M struggles.
See if this sounds familiar. A&M has a new hot shot freshman quarterback who's going to redefine the program. First it was Kenny Hill, then it was Kyle Allen, then it was Kyler Murray. They all have one thing in common, they aren't in College Station anymore. Now comes IMG and San Antonio Reagan's Kellen Mond, is he the quarterback to finally get the Aggies over the top? If it's not Mond, is it Nick Starkel? Is it Jake Hubenak? We think in 2017 it's none of the above.
Even though Trevor Knight couldn't hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle, he added an element to the A&M running game. None of A&M's current quarterbacks have that ability. At least not yet. So here we are again, the Ghost of Johnny Football lives on. Without a quarterback, A&M can win all the September games they want, but come October it won't matter. Again.
Replacing two tackles. In the same vein as the loss of Garrett and Hall, but to a much lesser extent, the loss of Avery Gennessy and Jermaine Eluemunor leaves A&M's offensive flanks exposed. Both Gennessy and Eluemunor went to the NFL, it will be a while before A&M has another such line crop. They were the experienced contributors on a young offensive line. Now the Aggies will once again try to turn to Koda Martin, a converted defensive lineman who's never found his footing on the offensive line. Martin was penciled in to start at tackle in 2016 but couldn't beat out Eluemunor. Gennessy started twenty five straight games for the Aggies at left tackle. Tank Davis is a plus athlete and an option at left tackle, but if he and Martin don't come through, A&M will be plugging in some really young players on the offensive line. Either way, A&M will have issues and in the SEC, that equals a rough year.