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! Thanks for stopping by. Let's get right to it and talk some Texas A&M football and recruiting. Send your questions in!
Brian (St. Paul, MN)
I was very surprised at how well the Aggies did last season in the SEC, probably the toughest conference in college football. Do you see them matching that success this season and again defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:04 PM)
Brian, I think everyone except the Aggies themselves were a little surprised with how well they did. Can they match 11-2 from a season ago? As long as Johnny Manziel is upright and the offensive line is solid, I think they can. It won't be easy, because they have some key pieces to replace on defense but I think they have the talent and coaching staff to have another double-digit win season. Can they beat Alabama again? Yes, but it will be even tougher this time around. The game is at Kyle Field so that's a bonus for the Aggies, but you can be sure Nick Saban and co. have been thinking about Sept. 14 for awhile. The biggest thing will be that Texas A&M's run defense better be in order that day. The Aggies are going to have a lot of young or inexperienced guys in that front seven, but they'll have to grow up quickly.
Hey Sam, if you had to say right now, does A&M land Kyle Allen, Brandon Harris, or both?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:06 PM)
JD, if I had to guess today, I'd say Brandon Harris. Hard to believe, considering that Allen has visited the campus this year and Harris hasn't, but I think distance plays a role. Harris seems to really dig Kevin Sumlin, so if his visit this summer goes well, I think A&M has a really good shot.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will Brandon Williams go down as the greatest Aggie running back this century before he leaves College Station?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:10 PM)
I think it's a little early to make that claim and it won't be easy. The reason I say that is because of the way the offense and the backfield is structured. Can Brandon Williams be a star at Texas A&M? I think so, yes. He'll have three years of eligibility so he could surpass Cyrus Gray's 3,298 yards in three seasons, but if Johnny Manziel is your leading rusher again, that might be difficult. Plus, Brandon's not going to get all the carries, especially this year with Ben Malena and Trey Williams and Tra Carson around. But I think his potential is really high and yeah, he could wind up with more yards than any Aggie back since the turn of the century if he can emerge as a go-to guy quickly.
Ed (Queens Village)
Who is better pro prospect Manziel or Matthews?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:11 PM)
Right now, it's Jake Matthews. Not only is Matthews a terrific offensive lineman, but he has the physical measurables that NFL scouts are looking for. Manziel is a terrific player but the measurables will affect his pro stock.
Seabass (Cypress, TX)
Assuming Brandon Harris doesn't commit, where does Sumlin go from here at QB?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:15 PM)
If the Aggies don't get Harris, ESPN 150 QB Kyle Allen will obviously continue to be a focal point (if he's still on the board in mid-July when Harris makes his decision) and certainly they'll look at offering another 2014 quarterback. Guys to keep an eye on if Harris and/or Allen fall through are San Antonio East Central's Jeremy Jones and Spring High's Darius Lee-Campbell, both of whom came to A&M's March 2 junior day. Last fall the Aggies invited Houston Summer Creek QB Aaron Sharp to a game and I wonder if they'd look at him again. And they might still look out-of-state, but those are the in-state guys to keep an eye on if your proposed scenario plays out.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Who are the Aggies depending on to step up on defense to get some steps and place the ball in Johnny Manziel's hands as much as possible?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:18 PM)
Donnie Baggs, who has moved to middle linebacker, will be key, both from a production standpoint and as a leader. Their hope is that the Floyd Raven experiment, moving him from cornerback to safety, pays dividends. They also need one of the Taylor brothers (Tyrone or Tyrell) to step up at the rush defensive end spot that Damontre Moore manned last year. A good pass rush is going to be key opposite sophomore Julien Obioha.
Who do you think will be the next commit?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:20 PM)
I think it will be Katy (Texas) Seven Lakes defensive end Jarrett Johnson or possibly Manvel (Texas) High prospect Koda Martin, who the Aggies are recruiting as an offensive tackle. Both are late spring/early summer decisions and I think A&M sits well with both of them.
gonna beat 'Bama again this year?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:23 PM)
If I knew for sure, I'd quit my job and go to Vegas and put all my money on the game. My initial gut feeling this far away from the game is that it'll be tough for the Aggies to repeat that, even if they are at home. Hard to beat a team that talented twice in a row. I won't be shocked at all if the Aggies win -- clearly their offensive tempo gives Saban and co. some problems -- and I think it's a coin flip game, honestly. But if you forced me to pick one today, I'll say Bama wins.
Michael (College Station, TX)
Where do you project A&M will be ranked to start the season? Do you think Texas is overranked considering how much they've underachieved the past several years?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:25 PM)
I think the Aggies will start the season around No. 4 or No. 5. As for Texas, if they're ranked in the top 10, I would say that's a stretch. If they're around 15 or below, I don't have a beef with that. They have a lot of talent. But yeah, they haven't done much in recent years. Personally, I'd have them in the 20-25 range.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Which freshmen will, or needs, to have the biggest impact for the Aggies in 2013?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:28 PM)
I think you'll see the biggest impact come from potentially a receiver (maybe Ja'Quay Williams, Ricky Seals-Jones or Sebastian LaRue) or a defensive tackle (Jordan Points, Isaiah Golden or Justin Manning). Those are areas where the Aggies had some graduation attrition (receiver) or simply need the depth (defensive tackle) so those are guys I would keep an eye on to have quick impacts.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will Justin Manning see the field as a freshmen or be redshirted by Sumlin?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:30 PM)
As long as he comes in ready to work and shows he grasps things quickly, I think Manning has a good chance to see the field. He'll compete against two other freshmen at his position for a spot on that two deep (Jordan Points, who enrolled in January and Isaiah Golden, who is coming in the fall), but if Manning comes in and impresses right away, Sumlin has shown he has no issue with putting a young guy on the field.
Which freshman wr makes the most impact this year?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:32 PM)
Ja'Quay Williams has a head start on the rest of the freshmen since he was enrolled this spring and went through spring ball, but I think Sebastian LaRue or LaQuvionte Gonzalez could have a quick impact because I think one of those two could be a candidate to return punts. Both are going to be the inside-receiver types too and there's room for battles to be had there in the fall.
DavidUbben (Sam's House)
If you were a SEC DC, how would you "game plan" for Johnny Manziel next year?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:36 PM)
Pray for rain....just kidding. My first instinct would be to offer a lot of four-man and three-man rushes, dropping seven and eight defenders into coverage. I would want Manziel to show me he can beat me with his arm, because he has already shown me he can beat me on the run. That's not to say he can't win just throwing, but I think he's more dangerous when he's on the run. Defensive ends would be doing a lot of "contain" rather than pure rushing. I'd want Manziel to stay in that pocket and not break out of it because when he escapes the pocket, even when he doesn't run, he's still dangerous. That's the part of his game that Manziel is working on a lot this year too--staying in the pocket. So it'll be interesting to see how much he has improved.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Do you think Jamal Adams will join Sumner-Gardner in the Aggies secondary?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:38 PM)
It's really hard to call right now. Adams doesn't show any signs of making a decision soon -- he could be a late in the season or All-American game pledge -- but the Aggies are in the thick of the chase and I expect them to stay in it until the end. He really liked his visit to College Station.
Spock (USS Enterprise NCC-1701)
KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!Didn't expect for me to say it, did you?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:42 PM)
Ha. I haven't had one of those in a live chat for a long while, but it still makes me laugh.
Sam, there hasn't been a commitment in a while now. It feels like our momentum is really slowing down, do you agree?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:50 PM)
The last commitment Texas A&M had was more than two months ago, when they scored three on the March 2 junior day. I think it's a two-fold issue. One, they're going after some really high-caliber guys (not to say the 10 commits they have aren't, because many of them are), but the type of players they're recruiting are probably regarded higher and have more impressive offer lists than many of the ones they nabbed around this time last year, when they were well on their way to 25+ commits before August. The guys who have Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, LSU offers are often the type to wait longer, so they don't commit as quickly. That's one part of the issue. Secondly, there probably has been a little loss of momentum simply because there hasn't been much on-campus stuff going on since spring practice ended. You figured they'd probably get a commitment or two the weekend of Friday Night Lights or the spring game, but when they didn't, it stood to reason that there wasn't going to be a rush on guys right after that. I think when the summer comes and they start hosting camps on campus, you'll start to see things move again. They sit in good position for two good prospects -- Jarrett Johnson and Koda Martin -- and both of those are going to be late spring/early summer decisions, most likely.
Keith (Seattle, WA )
Which recruit are the Aggies and Longhorns battling for the most in the 2014 class?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:54 PM)
There's a few. A couple guys I've already mentioned are among those. Jarrett Johnson, though he has said A&M is his leader. Armanti Foreman, the receiver from Texas City, is one that both programs would love to have. Both really want cornerback Tony Brown (but then again, who doesn't?). I think Jamal Adams is a pretty significant battle between the two, but the Aggies and the Longhorns aren't the only ones in that fight (same to be said for Tony Brown). One other to note, who is already committed, is Nick Harvey. Texas I don't think is going to give up on Harvey and the Aggies are going to have to fend off suitors all the way until signing day for him.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
How long will it take to turn around the Aggie Mens bsketball program in your opinion and make TAMU a consistent tournament participant again?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:57 PM)
Turnarounds in basketball I don't think take as long because one or two recruits can turn things around quickly. So it's just a matter of winning some key recruiting battles. If you get the right guys, you can turn things around in a hurry. The thing hurting A&M is that it's not viewed as a basketball school, because, well, it isn't. It's a football school and the same could be said for most programs in Texas. But if you can find that one guy, maybe an All-American type, to come and he succeeds, perhaps you can convince some others to join too.
Sam Khan Jr. (5:00 PM)
Alright gang, that will do it for this week. Thanks as always for the questions and for reading. Be sure to keep checking GigEmNation for Aggies football and recruiting coverage and we'll do this again in a couple weeks. Have a wonderful weekend.