Chat with Sam Khan
Welcome to GigEmNation! On Friday, reporter Sam Khan Jr. stops by to chat about the state of Texas A&M football.
Khan joined ESPN.com in 2012 after nearly seven years with the Houston Chronicle, covering the University of Houston, college sports and high school sports. Khan lives in Houston with his wife.
Send your questions now and join Khan Friday at 4 p.m. ET!
Sam Khan Jr. (4:04 PM)
Hey gang! Thanks for coming to the chat. Let's get going.
is our defense going to play big enough this year in your opinion, for us to compete?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:06 PM)
Nate, I think defensive coordinator Mark Snyder probably has the same question. It requires many guys stepping up as they had last year [Damontre Moore and Spencer Nealy stepping up were huge last year]. In my opinion, considering how good I think the defensive staff is, I think the defense will be good enough to give the Aggies a chance to compete for an SEC title. The offense is great, the defense just has to be good enough, not necessarily shut down, or no. 1 in the country. I think they will be.
do you see any of our incoming freshman starting next season?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:10 PM)
Brett Wade, the linebacker from Kennedale, Texas, is a candidate. He's currently No. 1 on the depth chart at weakside linebacker and I don't see him starting there as long as Steven Jenkins is healthy (Jenkins, when healthy, is No. 1 at WLB), but getting the reps he's getting now gives him a better chance of getting on the field. Defensive tackle Jordan Points is making progress too, and since he's getting spring reps at No. 2, I wouldn't rule him out of fighting for a spot also. At receiver, Ja'Quay Williams will have a chance to fight for a spot as well, but he's running with the No. 2s currently. As for guys coming in the fall, I wouldn't rule out any of the receivers that will arrive.
Frank (La Marque, Tx)
Could Brandon Alexander find himself starting at the defensive end spot?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:12 PM)
Frank, if his production in practice can match his physical ability and tools, sure. Right now he's running with the No. 2 defense in practice, but if he can make some big strides this spring and over the summer, there's no reason he can't compete for a spot. But he has a lot of ground to make up on someone like Tyrell Taylor, who played last year while Alexander redshirted.
Dave Nelson (WNYX)
It seems men's basketball is the only A&M sport currently in the doldrums. How do we fix it? How long until we get back to the tourney?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:15 PM)
With the parity in college basketball, I won't rule out anybody making a quick turnaround to get into the tourney, including someone like Texas A&M. But it requires a lot of things, most importantly, good recruiting. If they can land some big time players, that would go a long way toward helping them get back. Last time they went to the tourney, they had quite a bit of talent on the roster.
Kevin (Chapel Hill, NC)
Who is the highest 2014 recruit you think the Ags will land?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:18 PM)
We haven't done our 2014 ESPN150 yet (look for that in April), but one of their best commits in the class already is going to be highly rated, most likely -- linebacker Hoza Scott. As for guys that are still on the board that will also likely get really high rankings, I wouldn't rule out the Aggies chances of landing someone like heavily-pursued offensive tackle Braden Smith from Olathe (Kan.) South. The Aggies are putting in a ton of work to try to lure Smith and the fact that they got him down for a visit was big. I expect the Aggies to be in the mix for Tony Brown, the CB from Beaumont, TX, for a long while. I don't know if they'll land him, but they'll be in the hunt.
Which receivers do you see getting alot of playing time next year other than Mike Evans? T Johnson gone for sure, or does he ever get a chance to come back?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:20 PM)
Will, I think the next guy that you're going to see the Aggies leaning on at receiver after Mike Evans is Malcome Kennedy. Fans remember him most for catching the corner route against Alabama last year but receivers coach David Beaty said he thought Kennedy might have improved more than anyone on the team since last fall. They're looking for him to be a leader. I think you could see a few other guys get a lot of time, guys like Edward Pope, Sabian Holmes and Derel Walker. Some combination of those three will probably see a lot of the field. Don't hold your breath on Thomas Johnson returning. I don't see that happening.
John (Houston, Tx)
Hey guys! You might want to check out a quarterback from Dickinson Texas, his name is Grant Mitterlehner, looks like he'll be the quarterback next year for them. Looks like a real talent
Sam Khan Jr. (4:21 PM)
John, I'll do that.
how're the db's looking? any thrope awards in the near future?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:23 PM)
Tom, things are looking better in the secondary. I wouldn't go so far to say you have award winners back there, but there's a lot of progress being made and maturity happening. The corners are growing up and the fact that Deshazor Everett will stay at corner and not move back and forth to safety will help. The biggest wildcard is the move of Floyd Raven to safety. Howard Matthews is doing a solid job at the other safety and Toney Hurd is emerging as a leader. The Aggies are going to lean on the defensive backs a little bit this fall.
Frank (La Marque,Tx)
How has Floyd Raven adapted to the transition to safety?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:24 PM)
Frank, from all accounts, it sounds like it's going OK. Raven has safety tools in that he can really run and he loves to hit and be physical. The biggest challenge and what this spring is being used for is to help Raven play within the confines of the defense rather than freelancing a ton. Howard Matthews' presence at the other safety is helping in that regard (part of his job is to make sure Raven is lined up correctly) but so far, the words from the coaches have been positive.
Dave (Belton, TX)
How do the Ags use RSJ before he learns the polished routes that Sumlin likes his guys to run? I can imagine his athleticism and size would allow him to be an absolute nighmare for opposing CBs with Manziel running on the wing during improv time, but I don't know if he's ready to be on the field as a reciever. Any thoughts?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:27 PM)
Dave, I think you're right in that Ricky Seals-Jones will need some polish simply because he didn't play receiver full time at Sealy (he played a lot of quarterback and some safety as well). He returned punts at Sealy, so I wouldn't rule him out of the return game and honestly, I don't think his learning curve will be too long. RSJ is a worker and he's a smart player. I think he'll pick it up relatively soon and you could see him on the field fairly early in his career. The good thing for freshmen is they have the summer to do 7-on-7 on their own so he'll get a lot of work when he arrives in College Station in June.
Evan (CS, TX)
Call your shot: who's the next to commit to the Ags?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:30 PM)
Just a wild guess, because it's often difficult to predict how players are thinking, but I would guess either Justice Hansen the QB from Oklahoma or Jarrett Johnson, the DE from Katy Seven Lakes.
Frank (New York City)
Any word on the return of Michael Richardson? Was his Spinal Injury last fall career ending?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:31 PM)
Frank, he's still on the roster and we've seen him out at practice in street clothes working with and encouraging guys. I don't think it was career ending and nobody that I've heard as indicated as such, but I wouldn't be surprised if he did not play this fall. Could use it as a redshirt year with an aim to come back in the 2014 season.
Dave (Belton, TX)
How has Mike Matthews looked so far this spring?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:33 PM)
In the portions I've had a chance to watch, he looks good. I've hardly noticed that there's been a change. He's been running with the first team so far and I expect that to continue.
Frank (New York City)
Like a lot of Aggie fans I have been waiting for Nate Askew's speed and athleticism to translate on the field. How is his switch to the defensive side of the ball going? We need the bodies at LB. Is he part of the solution?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:35 PM)
I'll say this -- just on size along he's an impressive looking player. He's big and he's fast. I don't see why, if he works at it, he can't contribute. He's not going to be ahead of someone like Tommy Sanders, the JUCO OLB who is working with the first team right now because Sanders has played linebacker for the balance of his career while this is all new to Askew. But DC Mark Snyder said Askew's doing OK. Currently he's running with the twos, so we'll continue to watch, because I think it's too early to say. But if he works hard, he certainly has the physical ability to help.
Sam, how good do you think those 2 transfer RBs are going to be? You think there is enough balls to go around for B Williams, B Malena, T Williams and B Carson?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:37 PM)
Will, I think they're going to be really good. Both bring a unique skill set that is a little different from the others in the backfield. I think Brandon Williams has the chance to be a real star. Carson's sheer size will make him a big time asset as well. I don't know that there will be "enough" balls to go around for all four. It's hard enough to get three guys carries, but everyone will have a role. Malena will still be the starter and probably still gets his fair share, I think.
Dave (Belton, TX)
Moving up a few feet from Frank's question, do you think we'll have a sense of what the D-Line will look like this fall before, well, this fall? I get the feeling we could have three - maybe even four - freshmen in the rotation after fall camp - your thoughts?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:42 PM)
We won't really get a true feel for the d-line until fall for two reasons: Julien Obioha and Kirby Ennis are both out this spring. If Ennis does what Kevin Sumlin requires of him to get back in the good graces of the team after his offseason arrest and Obioha is healthy from his injury come August, you have to think those two probably start. When it comes to the two-deep, a guy like freshman Jordan Points is making progress and could earn himself a spot in the two-deep and I don't rule out other freshmen, like Justin Manning or Isaiah Golden, working their way into the two-deep at defensive tackle simply because the depth isn't great there. So yeah, I think your scenario is possible, though I'd probably lean toward 2-3 freshman instead of 3-4.
How much should we look into the spring depth chart, I'm aware there are quite a few injuries, but what about incoming freshman? Any chance a few of them will make a splash? RSJ, Larue, mastro?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:45 PM)
Austin, there's always a chance for a freshman to make a splash, especially under Kevin Sumlin. He's never been shy about playing true freshmen if he feels they've proven they're ready (see: Julien Obioha, De'Vante Harris, Thomas Johnson). I think RSJ and Sebastian LaRue both have good chances to come in and compete at receiver right away. The defensive tackles all have chances too, which I just mentioned (Points, Manning, Golden). As for Jordan Mastrogiovanni, I wouldn't rule him out but probably less of a chance for him to contribute right away since there's already some freshmen and junior college guys already ahead of him in that transition [plus, I figure Steven Jenkins and Donnie Baggs both end up starting, leaving fewer spots at LB]. But if he proves worthy, he'll certainly have a shot.
Sam, who is our starting QB next year? Ok, just kidding. I've heard great things about Matt Davis and his progress. You think Matty D could be the starter in 2-3 years (after Johnny goes pro)? I think we are really going to be stacked at RB and QB for the next few years. WR future looks bright, too.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:47 PM)
Davis has made a lot of progress. As to whether he can be the starter in a couple of years, I'll withhold that judgment until after I see more of him this spring and this fall. Knowing how smart he is and how hard of a worker he is, I wouldn't count against him. Remember too that Kenny Hill will come in and battle for that spot as well (the QB recruit from Southlake Carroll). And yeah, I think the Aggies are in good shape at the offensive skill positions for years to come.
Frank (New York City)
Given what we've seen of Damontre Moore's draft status losing value, is it fair to say he should've stayed for his Sr. year like his mentor Von Miller did?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:49 PM)
I'll only say that if he falls out of the first round. If he's a first round pick, no matter if it's at the top, middle or end of the first round, I still think it was the right decision. Three months ago, nobody really questioned the decision. He could have stayed one more year, but I think it would have been hard to have a better season than he just did. He had a terrific year for the Aggies in 2012.
Dave (Belton, TX)
Who's this year's Swope for the offense and Spencer Nealy for the defense? Those two were such good leaders and charachter guys they had ME ready to play.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:53 PM)
I think on offense, Ben Malena and Malcome Kennedy are prime candidates for that role. Malena's a true team player, willing to do anything (including play special teams) and he's a very driven player. Kennedy is the type that does everything right and has a ton of respect. On defense, it's a little harder to tell, at least for me. I'll be on the lookout as we go along in spring and fall to see if someone like that emerges.
Will Kohl Stewart even think about coming to A&M or just go pro with baseball?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:55 PM)
Stewart will definitely think about it. He loves the Aggies. His family is full of Aggies (including parents and siblings) and he already has his roommates picked out and from what I understand, plans to enroll in June. But at the end of the day, I think he'll go pro. He's going to be a top-10 pick in the MLB draft unless he has some type of unforeseen setback this spring. I don't see him passing that up.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:56 PM)
Alright gang, I have to run but thanks so much for the questions as always. Keep logging on to GigEmNationESPN.com for Aggies football and recruiting content throughout the spring and summer months and we'll do this again two weeks from today. Take care and have a great weekend!