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. (4:01 PM)
Hey everyone. It's been awhile since we had one of these chats but with SEC media days concluding this week, there's much to talk about. Let's get right to your questions. Fire away!
Jeremy Wilks (San Antonio, TX)
Any updates on the two FB players involved in the bar incident )Evereett & ???)?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:02 PM)
I asked Kevin Sumlin about the status of cornerback Deshazor Everett, safety Floyd Raven and defensive tackle Kirby Ennis (all of which have had offseason arrests). Sumlin said this about all three: "The only thing I can say is that they've been suspended indefinitely pending the investigation legally and athletically. There will be a decision made at the appropriate time. Other than that, I really can't comment on it too much because of where it is legally." So that's where it is. No word on whether they'll miss games.
Josh (Houston TX) [via mobile]
If a&m were to fail to make a bcs appearance, what are the chances Manziel returns for 2014.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:05 PM)
Josh, personally, I don't think Johnny Manziel's decision on whether to return to Texas A&M in 2014 is going to hinge on the team's success as much as his own. That's just my personal opinion and read on it. I think if he has a good season and it appears he'll be a fairly high draft pick (first or second round), he's probably gone. The only scenario I see him coming back is if he struggles this season and his draft stock takes a major hit. His life in College Station is so different now than it was a year ago and I think that will have some influence on his decision.
What will the Aggies need to do to have the #1 recruiting class in the nation...which specific players must they get commitments from?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:07 PM)
If they were able to pull off a coup and land DE Myles Garrett (No. 6 in the ESPN 300) and ATH Speedy Noil (No. 8) and a couple other ESPN 300 guys that they have in their sights, I think they'd have a shot at the top class. Getting two top-10 guys would carry some heft.
Doug (Long Beach, CA)
Do you think the Aggie offense will turn more run-heavy due to the change in OC, additions of B. Williams and T. Carson, and a full off-season after discovering Johnny's running ability?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:09 PM)
I think there will be more running of the ball and not necessarily from Manziel himself. With four legitimate options in the backfield (Ben Malena, Trey Williams, Brandon Williams, Tra Carson) I think you'll see more run mixed in. Ultimately, defenses will dictate how much running there is though, because the offense is based on the numbers -- if they have enough to block what the defense puts in the defensive front, they'll run. If there's too many defenders, they'll pass. But the short answer to your question is yes, I think so.
Rock the Good Ag (Aggie Heaven)
What was the mood in Hoover about the Sept. 14 game? Does 'Bama sweat A&M?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:11 PM)
The mood seemed to be that people feel it's going to be the biggest game of the regular season. I don't think Alabama fears Texas A&M and the Crimson Tide did a good job of talking about their first opponent (Virginia Tech) rather than the Aggies. But based on what I know and things we've seen (like the Aggies win over Alabama being played in the Crimson Tide's weight room constantly) there's no doubt that the Tide are really anticipating getting another chance to play the Aggies.
This past media week seemed a lot like a perpetual talking head machine. What do you think was the most insightful thing we learned football-related regarding the Aggies?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:14 PM)
It's funny you ask, because there didn't seem to be a ton of talk about "football" with the Manziel circus. The most insightful thing I learned was when a few of us ESPNers got to visit with Sumlin and he spoke about something he calls "The Truth." It's about a 15-minute period during film review where he said the coaches are very candid with the players about what they did right or wrong in a given situation and it all stays in house. I thought that was interesting and I may try to ask some players about what that experience is like and write a story about it at some point.
Bobby (Huntsville, Tx)
I almost don't want to ask this question (jinx) but, if JF goes down, who comes in as the back-up. I know Joeckel is the probable replacement but, is the upside of Davis and Hill and having them for potentially 4 years a better option. Or does new QB coach Spav put Joeckel in because he knows he has his HAND PICKED stud coming to campus in Allen. I know that the right answer is that you get them in practice and evaluate their performance, and the player that give you the best chance to win games plays, but i think the human aspect or your recruit playing, comes into play here. Just my opinion. Is it even the QB coaches decision or does Sumlin have any input?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:17 PM)
Bobby, it sounds like coachspeak to say this but it is absolutely true: If Manziel gets injured, the next option will be whoever gives the Aggies a chance to win that week. Sumlin and co. won't be thinking about next year or three years down the road because if you don't win, you might not have a job three years down the road. In my opinion, if it's in the middle of a game, I think it's either Matt Joeckel or Matt Davis, whichever of the two they feel most comfortable with. I don't think the Aggies will put in a true freshman like Kenny Hill against an SEC schedule unless he is far and away the best option, so much better than Joeckel and Davis that they would be silly not to. That's the only scenario. As for input, yes, Sumlin has input, but he also trusts his quarterbacks coach.
Doug (Long Beach, CA)
Which receivers have the best chance of filling the void left by the departure of Swope, EZ, and McNeal?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:19 PM)
The receiver who I think will have the biggest impact that is not named Mike Evans is Malcolme Kennedy. I think he takes one of those starting spots, probably Ryan Swope's old spot at the Y receiver. After that, it's anyone's guess. I think Derel Walker has a chance to contribute, as does Ja'Quay Williams. And I think you'll see one of the true freshmen that arrived this summer (Ricky Seals-Jones, Sebastian LaRue or LaQuvionte Gonzalez) get in there and contribute as well.
who will be are next commit? should we be concerned with our slip in the recruit rankings?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:21 PM)
Nathan, it's difficult to predict who the next commit will be. The Aggies are chasing some elite guys that have lots of options and will take official visits in the fall. So it's hard to say. As for the slip in the rankings, I wouldn't be concerned. A lot of that has to do with the fact that some schools have had more commits in the summer. The Aggies loaded up a lot early and will certainly add some more in the fall and after the season. At the end of the day, I think they'll be at top 5 class, perhaps even a top 3 class.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Is therre more pressure on Manziel given the number of off the field issues/incidents reported during this offseason? Did McCarron add even more fuel to the fire of the September 14th meeting with his backhanded references/comments/
Sam Khan Jr. (4:25 PM)
A.J. McCarron said today, via his Twitter account, that his words were not meant as jabs at Johnny Manziel, so take that for what it's worth. As for pressure on Manziel, I think there's more media pressure and certainly his world is a bit of a fishbowl right now. Hard for him to go out and do anything without it becoming news. As for football pressure the Aggies are hoping to win the SEC West and an SEC title and perhaps get to the BCS title game, so that's enough pressure for an entire team, much less Manziel. But I think once football practice starts, he'll be fine. I could see a scenario where football becomes an escape for him from the everyday stress he deals with now.
What's your take on Eric Hyman and K-Sum's relationship and do you think it will impact Sumlin's decision to stick around TAMU for awhile?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:28 PM)
A relationship with an athletic director I think will always have an effect on a coach's future. It's easier to work with people you like as opposed to people you don't like. I haven't heard anything negative to suggest that they have a bad relationship. Hyman is someone we don't see much media-wise, he doesn't seem very public. But I haven't heard any grumblings so I assume the relationship between him and Sumlin is fine. I think Sumlin's decision on whether to stay with the Aggies will hinge on what opportunities are afforded to him and how they compare to his current situation. If the NFL continues to knock on his door, I think it's going to be hard to say no, eventually, especially as more of his assistant coaches are hired elsewhere as head coaches and things around him change. But that's just my personal read on it.
Will (College Station)
Where do we stand with Mark Andrews, Speedy, Jamal Adams, and Braden Smith?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:31 PM)
Mark Andrews recently took a visit to College Station and posted some positive comments on his Twitter account (that he has since taken down) but it seems like the Aggies made an impression. I think they have a good shot with him and I hope to reach him soon to hear more about it. The Aggies are in Speedy Noil's top five and I think they'll be in the fight to the end, with LSU being the main competitor. I think Florida is the favorite to land Jamal Adams and I think Texas and Texas A&M have done a good job recruiting him but I get the sense that he's not heading to College Station, not at the moment at least. Keep an eye on his decision timeline though. Braden Smith the Aggies are in good position with. They continue to recruit him hard and I won't be shocked at all if they land him. But that's not an easy pull because so many schools want him too.
I have a sneaky feeling that Sumlin has a different strategy planned for the Bama game (and season in general). Like creative running plays or getting our running backs out in space.Do you have any input on that?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:33 PM)
I have no input in the playcalling, whatsoever. Kidding. My opinion on a different strategy is yes, I think the Aggies will definitely have some wrinkles ready for the Alabama game. I thought they did some good things mixing it up against Oklahoma. The Aggies might not have to show too much against Rice and Sam Houston State, so I think you'll see some creativity come to life in the Crimson Tide game on the offensive side.
Doug (Long Beach, CA)
How do you see the RB touches in this offense distributed among Malena, T Williams, B Williams, and Carson?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:35 PM)
I think Malena gets the most carries early in the season, but I think you'll see Brandon Williams start to eat up some carries as the season goes on. Carson will get most of the short-yardage and goal-line work and Trey Williams will be a change-of-pace type guy, in my opinion. I also think you'll see them go with the "hot hand," so to speak when those scenarios arise.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
When will the Wrecking Crew Defense return to College Station?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:37 PM)
Tony, I think you have to give it another year or two of recruiting SEC-type defensive linemen before we see the Aggies become an elite defense again. They got a good start on it in the last class, getting some large, talented defensive tackles. If they can continue to recruit those types of linemen in the coming years, I think you'll see them become really good defensively within the next few years. However, as long as they continue running this type of high-tempo offense, I think it's important to note that their defensive success isn't always going to be measured in yards per game, but more so in scoring, third-down conversion percentage and turnovers. When your defense is out on the field for most of the game, it's going to give up something. That's just natural.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Excluding Bama, which team will give the Aggies hhe toughest run for their money in College Station, dare I say Vandy?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:39 PM)
Tony, I agree. The home game other than Alabama that gives me at least slight pause is the Vanderbilt game. James Franklin has done a great job getting that program moving in the right direction, so that will be one to keep an eye on.
Vegas has the O/U for A&M regular season wins set at 9.5.I am taking the Over.You?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:40 PM)
That's the right place to have it. My thought is 9 or 10 wins for the Aggies. I'll take the over.
Rock the Good Ag (Aggie Heaven)
Is there a backup plan for last year's place kicking? That kid is like my golf game--the ball is going to go a long way but goodness knows where it will land.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:43 PM)
There are other kickers on campus, but Taylor Bertolet is option numero uno at the moment. I think the hope is that with new special teams coordinator Jeff Banks, who has a kicking background and a new holder (punter Drew Kaser) who Bertolet has a great relationship with, that he'll be more comfortable this year and will show marked improvement. If he doesn't succeed, then the Aggies are going to be turning to guys with no D-I college experience, and that's sticky. Josh Lambo (sophomore transfer) and Cody Wicker (walk on true freshman from Dallas Jesuit) are probably the next options.
Any chance Thomas Johnson ever returns?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:45 PM)
To Texas A&M? I'd say no, probably not. I hope he returns to college football at some point though. Talented receiver.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Which freshmen makes the biggest impact on Aggie Football in 2013?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:47 PM)
If you're limiting to only incoming freshmen, I'll say defensive tackle Isaiah Golden or one of the receivers: Ja'Quay Williams, Ricky Seals-Jones, Sebastian LaRue or LaQuvionte Gonzalez. If you're including redshirt freshmen in the conversation, it's Germain Ifedi, who will start at right guard.
Chris (Dallas, TX)
How big of an impact will NateAskew have swapping from Offense to Defense? Will his impact be enough to cause some disruptions on offense given our D-Line is so young/inexperienced?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:53 PM)
I wouldn't go as far to say it will have a major impact, but I do think Askew will get on the field and contribute some. Physically, he looks the part and he has speed coming from the receiver spot, so if you're just lining him up and asking him to go get the quarterback a few times a game, I think he can do it. And yes, considering the inexperience of the front seven, he'll get some chances.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Is the Alabama home game the biggest TAMU history?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:57 PM)
It might be, when you consider what's at stake. Think about if: If the Aggies win, they'll likely put themselves in control of their own destiny in the SEC West/SEC championship game and BCS title game chase. If they lose, it will probably all but eliminate a chance at getting to the BCS game and it becomes an uphill battle to win the SEC West since Alabama would hold a tiebreaker over the Aggies. It's definitely the biggest in recent memory.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Are you optimistic about the future of Aggie basketball?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:59 PM)
Derrin, it's hard for me to say because I haven't watched them that closely; my focus has been mostly on football and football recruiting.
RJ (Houston, TX)
Call your shot...TAMU's starting 2014 quarterback is ______. Kenny Football?
Sam Khan Jr. (5:02 PM)
I'd like to see all of them (Matt Davis, Matt Joeckel and Kenny Hill) perform in fall practice before I say for sure, but if I"m just spitballing here, I'll go ahead and say yeah, Kenny Hill.
Sam Khan Jr. (5:03 PM)
Alright gang, that will do it for this week. We'll reconvene again in August once fall practice starts. Thanks for joining as always, extra thanks if you sent a question in and until next time, take care.