Big 12: Donnie Baggs

Plenty of new looks on A&M depth chart

August, 30, 2011
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Texas A&M unveiled its depth chart on Monday, too, with a few interesting looks.
  • Damontre Moore, on the heels of his spot duty as a true freshman last season, had plenty of hype heading into 2011. But as fall camp progressed, it was apparent he might not have a starting spot. Caleb Russell, a junior, overtook Moore for the spot and enters the season as the starter at the Joker spot for the Wrecking Crew. Russell, a former walk-on who was awarded a scholarship on Monday, doesn't have the physical measurables of Moore, but he's proved he deserves the spot. Bully for him.
  • Junior Jonathan Stewart grabbed the inside linebacker spot opposite Garrick Williams for the Aggies in one of the most high-profile position battles in the league. Michael Hodges will be missed at the spot, but Kyle Mangan and true freshman Donnie Baggs are co-backups at the other inside linebacker spot behind Williams.
  • Terrance Frederick is the starter at one corner for the Aggies, but the other? Dustin Harris and Coryell Judie are sharing a spot. Big surprise on that one.
  • Cyrus Gray starts the season on top of the depth chart, ahead of Christine Michael. No worries. Both will get plenty of touches.
  • The offensive line hasn't quite jelled. Evan Eike is listed as a co-starter with sophomore Shep Klinke (a missed possible selection for the all-name team? I think so.)
  • At tight end, Hutson Prioleau has unseated returning starter Nehemiah Hicks, a sophomore who has slid to third behind Prioleau and co-starter Michael Lamothe. Surprised to see that there. Hopes are high for Hicks in College Station, but he's got a lot to prove.
  • Jameill Showers was named the backup quarterback on Monday.

Notes from an up-close look at A&M

August, 15, 2011
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- There's only so much you can take from a 90-minute workout without pads, but here are a couple quick thoughts and observations from Sunday afternoon's workout inside the indoor facility at Texas A&M.

I'll be there this morning for a live scrimmage with pads, too.
  • Last year, when I visited College Station in the preseason, it was pretty obvious during team work that Jerrod Johnson had a ways to go before he was back to the same player he was in 2009. He obviously never quite got there. This year? Not the case. All the usual suspects looked great. Ryan Tannehill was as good as you'd expect, Jeff Fuller looked great, and Christine Michael showed some nice explosiveness and lateral movement. Cyrus Gray is limited after suffering a minor hamstring injury on the first day of camp, but he's expected to be 100 percent for the season opener against SMU on Sept. 4.
  • Every time I've come to a practice at College Station, I've been impressed with what Jameill Showers had to offer as a backup quarterback, and Sunday was no different. It's a limited sample size, sure, but he throws an outstanding ball, and he made good decisions throughout Sunday's workout in team drills.
  • An offseason arrest didn't put Damontre Moore in the good graces of the coaching staff, and as a result, the possible star had spent the first week of camp working primarily with the third and fourth groups, according to other A&M reporters who had attended earlier practices. On Sunday, however, he was back working with the first team at the Joker position. A good sign for his future, no doubt. The sophomore may have struggled off the field during the offseason, but remember: Von Miller infamously wasn't the personification of a leader early in his career, and left as one of the program's all-time greats -- on and off the field. There's plenty of time for Moore to shore up his act.
  • Inside linebacker is a primary concern for the Aggies this fall camp, especially after they got a preview of a grim future without Michael Hodges this year when Hodges missed the majority of the Cotton Bowl with a knee injury. Garrick Williams is one of the defense's leaders and a returning starter at one of the two spots in the 3-4 scheme, but Donnie Baggs and Jonathan Stewart have been earning lots of time together with the first team -- and without Williams. Coach Mike Sherman's explanation for the approach: "I always like to see guys with the first group, because that's when you get to evaluate them. When you're with the second group, you're going up against the second group of offense. So let's see how they do against the first group guys, so it's really a more accurate evaluation of where they stand. They could be killers in the second group but go to the first group and it's a little bit more challenging, so I want to see them against the better competition."
  • Sherman says he's still trying to sort out who his starter will be, but I like the approach to throw them in with the first-team and see who outperforms the other. Stewart is the more experienced player, but Baggs, a true freshman, has obviously impressed enough to even be in this position. Sherman expects the position to be more solidified early next week.
  • Sherman played it coy when asked about a "rumor" that Texas A&M's coaches met with university president R. Bowen Loftin about the possibility of a move to the SEC. "Rumors? Really? Are you saying it's a rumor? I don't comment on rumors," he said. "You led with a rumor, so..." A poor choice of words, sure, but a fruitless line of questioning, no doubt, regardless of word choice.
  • Safety Trent Hunter did discuss the prospect of the SEC, but only that the team has been told not to discuss it. "Our coaches made a point on the first day. Don't talk about it, don't tweet about it, don't Facebook about it," Hunter said, adding that it hasn't been difficult to focus on the field while rumors swirled. "It's not anything that's going to affect us playing SMU on that first week."
  • Today's scrimmage will be live with plenty of hitting, Sherman says. Should be exciting. I'll have some notes and stats up on the blog later.
Time to take a look at a few of the under-the-radar young talents across the Big 12.

Three underclassmen to watch:

Jackson Jeffcoat, Soph., DE, Texas: Jeffcoat might be the most exciting sophomore in the entire league. A solid Longhorns defensive line last year already had true freshman Jeffcoat emerge as perhaps the team's best pass-rusher, never more impressive than in an early-season win over Texas Tech. A high ankle sprain, however, derailed any hopes of an All-Big 12 season. This year, that could change in a Big 12 without any truly elite talents on the defensive line.

[+] EnlargeTexas' Jackson Jeffcoat
Brendan Maloney/US PRESSWIREAs a freshman last season, Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat appeared to be on his way to an all-Big 12 season before an ankle injury.
Corey Nelson, Soph., LB, Oklahoma: Nelson was referred to as the most impressive player in Oklahoma's spring after a quiet freshman year. Now, the Sooners are bending over backwards to try and get Nelson's talent on the field in the midst of a loaded group of linebackers. An earlier experiment featured Nelson at the nickel back spot, and co-Defensive Big 12 Freshman of the Year Tony Jefferson moving from his home at nickel back to free safety alongside sophomore Aaron Colvin, a converted corner, at strong safety. Now, however, with Travis Lewis likely out to begin the season, Nelson will move back to weakside linebacker where he had backed up Lewis, and Jefferson will be back at nickel back.

Ahmad Dixon, Soph., S, Baylor: Dixon was a hometown blue-chip recruit for the Bears, and looks to become one of its biggest playmakers in his first year under new coordinator Phil Bennett. Bennett loves to emphasize speed, and Dixon will take over at nickel back, playing closer to the line of scrimmage in a role that coach Art Briles says is perfect for his skill set.

Three freshmen to watch:

Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas: Brown is probably the biggest name to enter the Big 12 this season, and he'll be worth watching. A physical, bruising, 220-pound runner, Brown may be called upon to help an anemic Texas running game looking for a punch under new coordinator Bryan Harsin.

Donnie Baggs, LB, Texas A&M: Baggs was a relatively unheralded recruit coming out of high school, but made an immediate impact for the Aggies defense after enrolling early and taking part in spring practice. He should be in the conversation for starter at one of the Aggies' inside linebacker spots where Michael Hodges left a void. Baggs may be called upon heavily in fall camp after one of the other contenders at inside linebacker, Kyle Mangan, was arrested last weekend.

Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas: The Longhorns put a second player in this group in Diggs, a freshman who made big noise in spring camp after enrolling early. The depth chart in Austin is still in flux and won't be anything close to concrete until game week approaches, but it'd be shocking if Diggs didn't contribute right away. The secondary lost three NFL corners from last year's team, and there aren't many more experienced players ahead of Diggs that could keep his natural sensibilities for the position off the field.
Heading into the season, I see five teams in the Big 12 with a realistic chance to win the league. I'll be breaking them down in order (which won't be the same as my post-spring power rankings) of their chances to leave the season with the Big 12 title.

No. 1 on the list was the favorites: Oklahoma

Today, we take a look at my No. 2: Texas A&M.

Why the Aggies will win the Big 12

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
AP Photo/Rod AydelotteQuarterback Ryan Tannehill will be crucial to Texas A&M's success in 2011.
1. They've got the most complete offense.

Center Matt Allen is the only offensive starter not returning, but the Aggies have a solid line, headlined by a maturing, but already talented pair of bookends with big potential, tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. At the skill positions, you won't find anything close to a weakness. Texas A&M returns the best running back corps in the league and maybe the best 1-2 punch in the nation with Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray. All of the team's top five receivers return, and Jeff Fuller, who chose to return for his senior season, is arguably one of the five best in the country. Ryan Tannehill doesn't have a ton of starts (six) under his belt, but he was great in a tight spot last year, and led the team in receptions his first two years on the field.

2. They're especially strong in great places on defense.

Those places: Secondary and pass-rushers. That's huge in the Big 12. New joker Damontre Moore, defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie and linebacker Sean Porter should combine for more than 15 sacks this year and tons of quarterback pressures that could result in some big plays for another defensive strength: the secondary. All four starters return, and Terrence Frederick, Coryell Judie are experienced seniors at corner, while Trent Hunter and Steven Campbell hold down the safety spots.

3. They made it hard to win nine games last year.

Texas A&M already won a share of the Big 12 South last year, despite ranking 10th in the Big 12 in turnover margin at minus-5. Its 30 turnovers (15 INTs, 15 fumbles lost) were the most in the Big 12 and 111th most in the nation. You'd have to think that number will drop this year with Tannehill at quarterback. He struggled in the loss to LSU, throwing three interceptions, but he had just three in his six previous games at quarterback, compared to 11 touchdowns. Five of those 30 turnovers came from Jerrod Johnson in a loss to Oklahoma State, and if the Aggies take care of the ball then, or this time around, they're likely Big 12 champions.

Why the Aggies won't win the Big 12

1. The defensive losses will be too much.

Damontre Moore should slide in and replace Von Miller. I'd expect him to do well, but what about middle linebacker? Michael Hodges was the heart of the defense in 2010 and its leading tackler. When a knee injury forced him out of the Cotton Bowl against LSU, the Tigers gashed the Aggies' defense, which for the few weeks to end the season, looked like one of the Big 12's best and topped the league in rush defense. Hodges is gone for good now, and the Aggies left spring without a solid replacement. For now, it looks like Jonathan Stewart will slide in, but it could end up being true freshman Donnie Baggs. Either way, A&M won't be as strong there, and teams that can run the ball (i.e., OSU, OU) may take advantage. Lucas Patterson is the only other loss on the defensive side of the ball, but my money is on Hodges being missed the most on the field, even though Miller was the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft.

2. They have to travel to Norman.

Texas A&M has been outscored 107-24 in its last two trips to Norman, and Les Miles at Oklahoma State in 2001 is the only Big 12 coach to ever beat Bob Stoops at Owen Field. The odds are definitely against Mike Sherman becoming the second. The Aggies knocked off Oklahoma in College Station last year, but did it largely on the strength of the linebackers, and Hodges and Miller, who helped orchestrate those three goal-line stops to beat the Sooners, are gone.

3. Hype and the Aggies are not happy bedfellows.

Texas A&M looked like a possible Big 12 South contender last year, but the Aggies lost all three of their first real tests, and nearly lost to Florida International in College Station, erasing a 21-7 fourth-quarter deficit to avoid embarrassment. After being written off by most, they rallied for a share of the Big 12 South, but this year, the attention is back on the Aggies, who will likely be toting a top-15 ranking into the preseason. How will the team handle big games early in the season against Oklahoma State and an early trip to Lubbock before the showdown in Norman? Their recent history suggests "not well."

Best of spring

May, 6, 2011
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Now that spring practice is over, it's time to pass out a few awards.

Best spring game performance: Seth Doege, QB, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders' likely new starting quarterback completed 20 of 35 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns. That capped a solid spring in which Doege did just about everything he could to cement his status as the next Tech quarterback in the fall.

Best spring camp by a freshman: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri: Despite losing Aldon Smith (the No. 7 overall pick in the NFL draft), Missouri's already-loaded defensive line looks like it has another budding star. Ealy, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound redshirt freshman, will find his way on the field next year.

Best out-of-the-blue performance: Donnie Baggs, LB, Texas A&M: Baggs wasn't a heralded recruit in the Aggies' 2011 class, but he enrolled early and might be called upon in the fall to replace the team's leading tackler, Michael Hodges.

Biggest rising star: Corey Nelson, LB, Oklahoma: Nelson played sparingly as a freshman in 2010, but one of the nation's top recruits in the 2010 class emerged this spring. His play was so impressive, Sooners coach Bob Stoops called him the best player on the defense this spring. Oklahoma is locked in at linebacker heading into 2011, but he'll find a way on the field next year and become a household name before too long.

Most interesting story: Texas gets acquainted: There hasn't been much change at Texas under Mack Brown, but last season's 5-7 campaign necessitated it. This spring, the Longhorns adjusted to six new coaches, including offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, who loves trick plays, and a defensive coordinator in Manny Diaz who shows up to practice in cleats and flies around in them like he wants his defense to do.

Best "thanks, but no thanks" moment: The Big 12 had just three players leave early, as some of the league's stars returned for another round of spring camp. Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles and Travis Lewis, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden, and Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller all stuck around with big hopes for 2011.

Best quote: "We're looking for a guy that's never been 'it' in a game of tag." -- Baylor coach Art Briles, on the Bears' search for a running back to replace Jay Finley.

Texas A&M spring wrap

May, 6, 2011
5/06/11
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TEXAS A&M

2010 overall record: 9-4

2010 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters: Offense (9), Defense (8) P/K (2)

Top returners: RB Cyrus Gray, WR Jeff Fuller, QB Ryan Tannehill, CB/KR Coryell Judie, RB Christine Michael, WR Ryan Swope, LB Damontre Moore, LT Luke Joeckel

Key losses: LB Von Miller, DE Lucas Patterson, LB Michael Hodges, C Matt Allen

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Cyrus Gray* (1,133 yards)

Passing: Jerrod Johnson (1,947 yards)

Receiving: Jeff Fuller* (1,066 yards)

Tackles: Michael Hodges (115)

Sacks: Von Milller (10.5)

Interceptions: Dustin Harris*, Coryell Judie* (4)

Three spring answers

1. Gray’s running mate is back on track. Cyrus Gray handled the duties well after Christine Michael went down with a broken leg. Gray finished the season with seven consecutive 100-yard games, but Michael is back and looked good this spring. The Aggies have one of the best running back duos in the country, and it should be better than ever this year.

2. Linebackers looking good. Texas A&M is losing Von Miller and Michael Hodges, but linebackers Sean Porter and Garrick Williams look ready to step into roles as the leaders on the defense. Damontre Moore is likely to replace Miller, while Hodges spot in the middle is up for grabs, with true freshman Donnie Baggs competing to win it alongside Jonathan Stewart and Kyle Mangan. It’s a question mark on a team without many, but the spring had to be encouraging.

3. Offensive line coming together. Texas A&M returns four starters on the line, and loses center Matt Allen. Brian Thomas is likely to replace him and worked most of the spring as the first-team center. On the outside, the Aggies pair of sophomore tackles, Luke Joeckel on the left side and Jake Matthews on the right continue to mature and could be two of the Big 12’s best.

Three fall questions

1. Can the Aggies handle the pressure? There was tons of buzz about the Aggies last year, despite coming off a 6-7 season. After six games, though, Texas A&M was 3-3. Once plenty of folks had written them off, they ripped off an impressive six-game win streak and shared the Big 12 South title. This year, the hype is back, but the Aggies won’t be able to weather a three-game losing streak this time around and still have a shot at the Big 12 title.

2. Will Ryan Tannehill continue his tear? Tannehill replaced the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, Jerrod Johnson, midway through the season last year, and helped pace the Aggies during their impressive streak. This time around, with defenses more sure of what to expect from him, can he become a bona fide star? Not to mention that lingering Aggie senior QB curse…

3. How good is Damontre Moore? Von Miller is gone, and Moore looks likely to replace him at the Joker position this year. The Aggies want to see him slide in and re-establish the dominance he showed early in the season when Miller was slowed by an ankle injury, but Miller was perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime player. Moore may be good, but just how good? We’ll find out next year.
Every spring, unheralded players make a name for themselves and give a preview of what's to come in the fall. Two teams in the Big 12 are still practicing, but here's who did it across the league this spring.

Baylor: Ahmad Dixon, DB. Dixon, a big name in Waco and one of the highest-rated recruits in Baylor history, played sparingly as a freshman reserve safety in 2009, finishing with 16 tackles. This year, though, the 6-foot, 200-pounder could be a game-changer at nickelback for Phil Bennett's defense.

[+] EnlargeTexas' Alex Okafor
Brett Davis/US PRESSWIREAlex Okafor had five sacks during Texas' spring game.
Iowa State: Aaron Horne, WR. Horne only got a scholarship offer from the Cyclones when coaches came to see his teammate, quarterback Steele Jantz, play at a junior college in California. This spring, the 5-foot-9, 167-pounder emerged as a likely major contributor in the passing game, and led all receivers with eight receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown in the spring game.

Kansas: Darrian Miller, RB. Kansas is still practicing, but Miller, a Kansas City native and one of the Jayhawks' highest-rated recruits in the 2011 class, has impressed with his explosiveness and figures to earn plenty of touches next fall in the running game.

Kansas State: Nigel Malone, CB. Malone could be next in line to be one of Bill Snyder's impact juco transfers. He showed up this spring without the memories of last year's struggles by the Wildcats' defense, and is in competition for a starting spot at corner opposite David Garrett.

Missouri: Kony Ealy, DE. Missouri is already loaded at defensive end with Brad Madison and Jacquies Smith, but the Tigers' may have a budding star in Ealy, a redshirt freshman. He was unblockable at times this spring and should be a major contributor in the defensive end rotation next season. If nothing else, he could make an impact in Missouri's "Candy" defensive package, which features four defensive ends.

Oklahoma: Corey Nelson, LB. Nelson was one of the Sooners' top recruits in the 2010 class, and played very little last year, but coach Bob Stoops says he'll have to get Nelson on the field somehow this year. For now he backs up All-Big 12 mainstay Travis Lewis, but you'll see No. 7 plenty this fall. After a recent scrimmage, Stoops called him the best player on the defense this spring.

Oklahoma State: Michael Bowie, OT. The Cowboys bring back all five starters on the offensive line, but there's plenty of buzz that Bowie could steal a starting spot by mid-season if he continues to play like he did in the spring. The juco transfer is a light-footed 6-foot-4 and 294 pounds, and starter or otherwise, gives an already impressive line great depth.

Texas: Alex Okafor, DE. Okafor switched to defensive end just days before the spring, but looks like a budding star at the position after a strong spring. He capped it by a five-sack performance in the Longhorns' spring game.

Texas A&M: Donnie Baggs, LB. Baggs enrolled early this spring for the Aggies, and as a true freshman, could find himself getting a serious look to replace departed starter Michael Hodges, who led the team in tackles last year.

Texas Tech: Blake Dees, LB. Dees is benefiting from a simplified 4-2-5 scheme under new coordinator Chad Glasgow that allows him to use his natural instincts to rush the passer, rather than worry about complex coverage schemes. It's unlikely he'll beat out Sam Fehoko to start at linebacker, but he's very likely to find a spot in the rotation and get some major playing time in his first season.

Spring superlatives: Texas A&M

April, 26, 2011
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The ninth in our series looking at the strongest and weakest position for each team in the Big 12: The Texas A&M Aggies.

Strongest position: Skill positions

Key returnees: QB Ryan Tannehill, WR Jeff Fuller, RB Cyrus Gray, RB Christine Michael, WR Ryan Swope, WR Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR Kenric McNeal

Key losses: None

Analysis: You can't pick one position out of this group, really. The Aggies have two of the Big 12's best running backs, both with two years of solid experience in the Big 12.

The same is true of the receiving corps, which is deep and experienced with lots of ability to make sure Tannehill's first full season starting (he was 5-1 in six starts last year) goes well.

In that group of receivers is plenty of balance. Jeff Fuller's size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) makes him one of the best red zone targets in college football, and he caught 12 touchdowns last year. Ryan Swope and Kenric McNeal are some of the league's toughest covers in the slot and Uzoma Nwachukwu is a more balanced receiver with a lot to prove after an underwhelming sophomore year.

Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael are both balanced backs, but Gray's biggest asset is his speed, and Michael is the more powerful back. They complement each other well and could both flirt with 1,000 yards this year. Gray brings a seven-game streak of at least 100 yards rushing into 2011, racked up against defenses like Nebraska, Oklahoma and LSU to close the 2010 season.

The Aggies' backup plan if Tannehill goes down isn't very attractive, with no experience behind him, but he should be among the Big 12's best at the position this year.

Best of all, the offensive line brings back four starters. The Aggies should be among the Big 12's best offenses and defenses, but the biggest asset is its depth and experience at all the skill positions.

Weakest position: Linebacker

Key returnees: Garrick Williams, Sean Porter, Damontre Moore, Kyle Mangan

Key losses: Von Miller, Michael Hodges

Analysis: For the Aggies, linebacker is more of a question mark than a true weakness, but they'll need good players to blossom into great ones if they want to build on last season's strong finish.

Make no mistake, Von Miller and Michael Hodges are huge losses. Miller was the Big 12's best defender last year, and Hodges led the team in tackles, with 115. We already got a preview of what happened to Texas A&M's defense without Hodges in the Cotton Bowl. He went down early with a knee injury and the Aggies fell apart, giving up 41 points to an LSU offense that averaged fewer than 30 last season, ranking ninth in the SEC. It wasn't pretty.

Damontre Moore, at the pivotal Joker position, showed lots of potential last year when Miller was slowed early in the season with an ankle injury, but he was still just a freshman. He'll have to grow up and be counted on for much more as a sophomore this year.

Garrick Williams made 112 tackles last year and should be one of the defense's leaders. Sean Porter may play a bit of the Joker position, but he'll grab another linebacker spot in the Aggies' 3-4 after starting last season and making 74 tackles, third-most on the team.

Replacing Hodges isn't entirely settled yet, but someone will have to step in and be solid in the middle of the defense. Jonathan Stewart and Kyle Mangan played some last year, and freshman Donnie Baggs was in the rotation this spring as well.

More spring superlatives:

Opening spring camp: Texas A&M

March, 22, 2011
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Schedule: Texas A&M opens spring practice today and will close with its spring game on April 16. Selected practices are open to fans and media. Here's the schedule.

What’s new: Not very much, and that's a good thing for Texas A&M's immediate future. Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter is back for a second year after being heavily pursued by Tulsa in the offseason following his re-establishment of the Wrecking Crew in 2010. The Aggies bring back nine offensive starters, eight defensive starters and two special-teamers from a team that won nine games in 2010. That's the most in the Big 12.

On the mend: Running back Christine Michael is expected to return in the spring after breaking his tibia in the middle of his sophomore season last year. After his injury, Cyrus Gray emerged with seven consecutive games of at least 100 yards, but getting both Michael and Gray on the field is a big help for the Aggies offense. Cornerbacks Terrance Frederick and Coryell Judie will be held out of the spring with injuries, but should be healed up by summer.

On the move: Damontre Moore played plenty of the Joker position last season, especially when Von Miller was slowed by an ankle injury early in the season. He's likely to slide into the same spot, but the coaching staff is open to moving him to a more traditional defensive end spot if the rising sophomore's frame fills out past the 6-foot-4, 248 pounds he played at during his freshman year in 2010. Lucas Patterson is gone, so if necessary, there's a hole at defensive end for Moore to fill. This spring will be a critical period in deciding his future role on the defense. Wherever he plays, he's likely to be a big piece of the Wrecking Crew.

New faces: Quarterback Johnny Manziel is on campus, but early on, he might play a bit of receiver like the Aggies' starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, used to. Linebacker Donnie Baggs and offensive lineman Joseph Cheek have also enrolled early.

Breaking out: Linebacker Sean Porter was overshadowed by a pair of stars at linebacker in Michael Hodges and Miller last season, but he could become one of the leaders of the Wrecking Crew this spring and a star himself. The junior outside linebacker could be a household name soon.

Don’t forget about: Defensive lineman Tony Jerod-Eddie. He suffered a broken foot last season against Texas and missed the rest of that game, but he should be back for a big senior season this year.

All eyes on: Tannehill. He took over as the starter midway through last season and was a big reason behind the Aggies' six-game winning streak to close conference play. All of his top targets are back, but he needs to grab a hold of the offense this spring. It will get more difficult next season for Tannehill as teams collect more tape and learn his tendencies. He already knows the offense as well as anyone, but making sure running it is second nature will be integral to making sure his late-season success last year continues into 2011. He'll get a chance to shore up his timing and chemistry this spring.

Who enrolled early across the Big 12?

January, 18, 2011
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The semester is just beginning. Last week in some places, today in others. Some programs have welcomed in new members, new college freshmen that are eager to get their careers started after being in high school just a month ago.

It's perhaps most valuable among quarterbacks -- notable in the case of Florida's Tim Tebow and Baylor's Robert Griffin, to quickly name a couple -- but here's who checked in to campus early and will likely take part in spring practice in a few months.

Keep an eye out for possible future stars among this group.

Colorado
Iowa State
Kansas
Missouri
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
Texas A&M
Texas Tech

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