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Thursday, May 14, 2009
Texas A&M spring wrap

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Texas A&M Aggies
2008 overall record: 4-8

2008 conference record: 2-6

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 7, kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

QB Jerrod Johnson, RB Cyrus Gray, WR Jeff Fuller, WR-QB Ryan Tannehill, DE-LB Von Miller, S Jordan Pugh

Key losses

QB Stephen McGee, RB Cyrus Gray, WR Jeff Fuller, WR-QB Ryan Tannehill, DE-LB Von Miller, S Jordan Pugh

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Mike Goodson (406 yards)
Passing: Jerrod Johnson* (2,435 yards)
Receiving: Ryan Tannehill* (844 yards)
Tackles: Alton Dixon, Matt Featherston* (94)
Sacks: Von Miller* (3.5)
Interceptions: Trent Hunter* (3)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule

Sept. 5 New Mexico
Sept. 19 Utah State
Sept. 26 UAB
Oct. 3 Arkansas (at Arlington, Texas)
Oct. 10 Oklahoma State
Oct. 17 at Kansas State
Oct. 24 at Texas Tech
Oct. 31 Iowa State
Nov. 7 at Colorado
Nov. 14 at Oklahoma
Nov. 21 Baylor
Nov. 26 Texas

1. Jeff Fuller emerges: With Ryan Tannehill sitting out most practice drills this spring recovering from shoulder surgery, Fuller stepped up as the Aggies' top receiver and most productive offensive weapon. He toyed with A&M's injury-depleted secondary in the spring game, producing nine catches for 147 yards. It was a continuation of a big spring where he simply dominated practices. Now, will he be able to do that against other defenses?

2. "The Matrix" sticks out: DE-LB Von Miller picked up a nickname from A&M coaches because of his freakish speed and productivity as an undersized pass rusher. A&M defensive coordinator Joe Kines placed the 6-foot-3, 214-pound Miller in his new "jack" position, a hybrid linebacker/defensive end position where they believe his speed and athleticism will enable him to thrive. He picked up two sacks and numerous quarterback pressures in the spring game. But it remains to be seen if he can consistently produce during the season against bigger opponents on a regular basis.

3. Productive safeties: The Aggies desperately need strong play in the secondary after struggles last season. They got it during the spring from senior Jordan Pugh and sophomore Trent Hunter. Pugh, a converted cornerback, served as the secondary's spiritual leader throughout spring play. And Hunter has built on a strong freshman season to nail down the other starting job as the secondary's most consistent playmaker.

Fall questions

1. Offensive line: The Aggies needed a lot of work this spring after allowing 39 sacks last season. But the offensive line was riddled with absences as projected starters Lee Grimes, Lucas Patterson and Kevin Matthews all missed spring practice recovering from injuries. A&M needs help in the trenches after producing a Big 12-low 88.5 rushing yards per game, culminated by an embarrassing minus-24 yards rushing against Texas. And depth could be a question with only nine scholarship players returning.

2. Backup quarterback: Coach Mike Sherman seems intent on giving starting WR Tannehill a shot at quarterback, although Tannehill's work at the position was limited as he recovered from a torn labrum. Tommy Dorman struggled behind starting QB Jerrod Johnson, making the position open heading into the fall. Dorman's development would enable Sherman to move Tannehill back to wide receiver and provide another receiving threat to go with Fuller. But look for Tannehill to start camp in August at quarterback.

3. Running back: The Aggies spent the spring trying to groom a replacement for Michael Goodson, who skipped his senior season to declare early for the NFL draft. Cyrus Gray and Jay Tolliver got most of the work during the spring. Tolliver had a team-high 67 yards in the spring game and Gray produced a touchdown. But don't be surprised if heralded incoming freshman Christine Michael gets immediate work at the position from his first day in summer camp as Sherman looks for an immediate upgrade in talent and athleticism.