Print and Go Back ESPN.com: SEC [Print without images]

Friday, November 1, 2013
SEC Friday mailbag: Week 10

By Sam Khan Jr.

A light load with this week's mailbag and it's Texas A&M-specific. Thanks to those that did send in questions.

Oliver Howard (@ManfreAg95): Why is Mike Evans not top 5 Heisman consideration?

Mike Evans
Mike Evans has been dominant at times this season, but receivers rarely garner Heisman buzz.
Sam Khan Jr.: Mainly because it appears the public sentiment traditionally falls toward a quarterback or running back. The last time a non-quarterback or non-running back won the trophy was in 1997, when Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson took home the hardware. Historically, the players who touch the ball most frequently, which are quarterbacks and running backs, seem to be the ones getting most of the votes. Whether that's right or just is up for debate; personally, I don't like it. But I don't have a Heisman vote.

To your point, I agree that Evans has been one of the nation's best players, regardless of position. Alabama, the No. 1 team in the country, had to try three different defenders to cover him, and he still finished that day with 279 receiving yards, including a 95-yard touchdown catch-and-run. Against a ranked Auburn team, Evans put up 289 yards and four touchdowns and again was unstoppable. When the stage is big and the lights bright, Evans has delivered for Texas A&M.

Head coach Kevin Sumlin even went out of his way to mention that he feels the sophomore receiver deserves to be in the Heisman discussion. "I'm also puzzled, why people aren't talking about Mike Evans in the Heisman race, to be honest with you," Sumlin said. "I think he's as good a player as there is in the country." He's second in the country in receiving yards (1,101), third in receiving touchdowns (11) and leads the SEC in both categories. Hat tip to SEC blogger Edward Aschoff, who argued back in September after the Alabama game that Evans should be in the discussion.


Delvin Bennett (@DelvinJokes): Where do you think Mike Evans will be next year?

Sam Khan Jr: He hasn't said whether he's considering making the jump to the NFL after this season (because he's a redshirt sophomore, he's eligible to declare for early entry into the NFL draft), but I won't be surprised if he does. If he gets talked about as a potential first-round pick (and considering his size, speed and pure ability, I don't see why he wouldn't be), I think he'll seriously consider making the jump. What will be worth watching is whether Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's decision affects what Evans chooses to do. I doubt that it will, but you never know.


Josh Lee (@JoshLee_ar): How much do young players actually improve between 19 and 21? Re: A&M defense.

Sam Khan Jr.: It all depends on the individual, because different guys have different work ethic, mental toughness, physical ability, etc. Basically, will the Texas A&M defense -- which has been porous almost all season, save a couple games -- be better in a few years as the 11 freshmen currently on the two-deep grow into juniors and seniors? I think so.

Some might progress faster than others but I think when you see a guy like true freshman middle linebacker Darian Claiborne, who has been starting since the fourth game, or defensive end Daeshon Hall, who is getting more playing time as of late, or cornerback Noel Ellis, who played a lot against Vanderbilt, those guys look like potential stars once they mature as players.

Plus, Texas A&M continues to recruit heavily on the defensive side of the ball, and the Aggies are landing elite talent: Of their last four verbal commitments, which all came in October, three were on the defensive line and were in the ESPN 300 of their respective classes. If this group can grow together and the scheme and coaching staff stays intact, I think they could be significantly improved in a couple years.