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 noon ET!
Sam Khan Jr. (12:01 PM)
Hey everyone, a pleasant Friday to you all. Thanks for stopping in to chat about the Aggies. Let's get started, shall we?
I think the defense backs will probably be one of our strong points.Who do you think will step up in the front seven for rushing the passer and stopping the run? thanks.
Sam Khan Jr. (12:04 PM)
Michael, I agree that the secondary will be one of the strong points of the defense. I think when it comes to stopping the run, you'll see guys like senior DT Kirby Ennis and sophomore DL Alonzo Williams stepping up. Ennis had a solid season last year and Williams played about half of the season as a true freshman and started the bowl game and showed a lot of promise. Rushing the passer, you're looking at guys like DEs Julien Obioha, Tyrone Taylor, Tyrell Taylor and OLB Tommy Sanders as key pass rushers. Maybe even senior Steven Jenkins to some extent.
Does Myles Garrett commit today? Also, is A&M still the leader for Speedy Noil?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:07 PM)
I haven't heard anything that suggests that Myles Garrett is committing anywhere any time soon. As for Speedy Noil, I'll just put it this way: I expect the Aggies will be in the mix for him until the end.
MARI IL [via mobile]
Has johnny football got what it takes to start on the nfl level. I mean he is a heisman winner but so is tebow
Sam Khan Jr. (12:10 PM)
Ultimately for a quarterback trying to get to the NFL, it comes down to whether you can throw the football. The ability to run is a plus but bottom line, you have to get it to your targets. Johnny Manziel can do that. Anybody who saw some of the throws he made against Alabama last year I think saw that. If he continues to work, grow and progress, I think he will show he's NFL-worthy. Mechanically, I think he's further along as a passer than Tim Tebow was at this point.
Gunnar (Winston Salem North Carolina)
How do you think the coaching changes will affect the season ahead?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:13 PM)
The change at offensive coordinator will be interesting to watch, but personally, I think it'll go smoothly. Clarence McKinney is in his sixth year in this offense, so I think the Aggies will be fine from a playcalling standpoint. And QB coach Jake Spavital gives Johnny Manziel the kind of presence that Kliff Kingsbury had when it come to being a QB coach since Spavital and Kingsbury are similar in personality. Mark Hagen's work with Nate Askew at linebacker in the spring gives me the sense that he'll be just fine as the new linebackers coach. Special-teams wise, Jeff Banks has a lot of experience and was a college kicker/punter himself. I think you'll see that help somebody like Taylor Bertolet, who had some struggles with consistency last year.
jonathan (austin tx)
Where do you think jamal adams will end up?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:16 PM)
He has been pretty good about playing things close to the vest so it's hard to guess, but I think he ends up at either Florida, Texas or Texas A&M. I think all three have great shots at him.
Now that koda Martin and Jarrett Johnsonhave committed to texas a&m, who do you see is the next possible commit?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:18 PM)
I like the Aggies chances with 2014 OL Zachary Ledwik from La Grange, Texas. He had a good visit earlier this week, a few days after the camp, and his timetable has moved up some it seems, so I think they sit well with him.
Brody (Flower Mound, Texas)
Where do you project our 2014 recruiting class to finish
Sam Khan Jr. (12:19 PM)
As long as they win another 10+ games this fall, I think it's in the top three, nationally, for sure.
Gunnar (Winston Salem North Carolina)
Do you think that the second year expectations in the SEC will be to much?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:21 PM)
It certainly won't be easy. Last year the Aggies came in with little by the way of expectations because many people thought they'd finish fifth or lower in the SEC West. Now some are calling them BCS title contenders. I don't think it'll be "too much" per se. But it won't be easy, especially having to play Alabama on 9/14, and Ole Miss and LSU on the road later in the year.
Who do you think will end up being the starting LBs? and from watching Nate Askew during Spring, do you think he will work out at his new position?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:23 PM)
Starters are likely Steven Jenkins (weakside), Donnie Baggs (middle), Tommy Sanders (strongside). Watching Askew, I do think he will work out and help the Aggies this fall. He won't start, but I think he'll help them out.
It seems that with the Aggies recent success, other schools in TX have slightly changed their approach to the whole recruiting process. Some of those changes seem to be helping the other schools. Do you see A&M start to alter things also moving forward, or do they have a set plan, and there tend to be no deviations?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:26 PM)
Chad, if you're getting at the fact that schools like Texas or Texas Tech are being aggressive on recruiting younger (sophomores or freshmen), here's what I would say: The Aggies probably aren't going to change much. Are there times where they might accelerate how quickly they offer a prospect they want if someone like Texas, for instance, offers the same prospect? Sure. Are they going to do that with everyone? No. Dylan Moses, the eighth grader, is an example of where the Aggies simply drew a line. Texas and many others have offered him. Kevin Sumlin said the Aggies aren't offering eighth graders or seventh graders and that's probably not changing anytime soon. I think you'll see the Aggies continue to be competitive with the sophomores (2015) and even offer some 2016 guys before long, but they're going to do what they do, regardless of what others do. That's my belief.
Hey Sam, is it just me, or does our new linebackers coach Mark Hagen seem like a he is going to be a really, really good coach? He comes off as one of those tough, fundamental coaches who will develop his players into really good LBs. I know there are a lot of questions about our LB group, but I just have a gut feeling they will end up being our strongest group by the end of the season. What do you think?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:29 PM)
The initial impressions and comments that I've heard about Hagen have all been good so far. I like what I saw in the spring with guys like Nate Askew, Reggie Chevis and Brett Wade. Those guys all seemed to adapt well and coaching has a lot to do with that. Donnie Baggs, at middle linebacker, has the potential to be a leader for this defense in the long run and I do think there's pretty good potential for that position group to be strong at season's end.
Now that A&M has scheduled games with UTSA, what do you think is the next school in the state we will schedule to play. As much as I would like to play Texas, right now I hope we get a shot at Texas State while Fran is still there.
Sam Khan Jr. (12:31 PM)
I could see a Texas State being a possibility. Texas Tech could be also. The AD there, Kirby Hocutt, seemed open to it. Texas, who knows how long it will be before that transpires.
What is the Aggies' biggest weakness coming into fall practice?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:33 PM)
Experience at wide receiver and depth on the defensive line.
Roman (New Mexico)
Do you think having several quality DB's already committed plays against the Aggies' shot at landing Brown or Adams?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:34 PM)
Not necessarily. Those are top-flight guys who have gotten to their highly-ranked status because they're fierce competitors. I don't think they would look at the Aggies group of defensive back commits and think to themselves that they should pass, simply because it has the potential to be crowded. Those two are probably thinking they're going to play as freshmen. So, no, I don't think that will hurt the Aggies chances with Tony Brown or Jamal Adams.
Matt (College Station)
Does the offense get better or worse this year? If Alabama beats us do you see a potential rematch in the national championship? Does someone besides A&M knock off Bama this year?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:39 PM)
I think the offense gets a little better, simply because you add more running back options and Johnny Manziel should grasp it better by being in it for the second year. If Alabama beats the Aggies, I don't see a potential rematch in the BCS title game. I think that only can happen if the Aggies beat Alabama and then both teams go undefeated the rest of the way. And no, none of the other teams on Alabama's schedule have me convinced that they're going to beat the Crimson Tide.
Gunnar (Winston Salem North Carolina)
Who do you think will replace Ryan Swope as the clutch, big play guy at WR?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:40 PM)
Malcome Kennedy. He showed last year he could be clutch (catching the last touchdown against Alabama) and receivers coach David Beaty raved about his work ethic, leadership and improvement this offseason. I think Kennedy has good potential for this fall.
I asked this question, and only received one response. Of all the top 2015 QB'S in the Nation. How many of them have played 2 years of Varsity HS Football?
Sam Khan Jr. (12:49 PM)
That's hard to say because I don't know every 2015 QB nationally and we don't rank 2015 prospects yet (our first rankings won't be until next fall). But certainly, QBs who start on varsity as freshmen are rare, for sure.
with our recent recruiting success, are the sooners the biggest losers? They seem to be getting none of the top talent.
Sam Khan Jr. (12:53 PM)
Texas A&M's success has probably impacted Oklahoma's presence in Texas more than anything. In the 2013 class, both programs went after a lot of the same guys and the Aggies won most of the head-to-head battles between the two programs. This year, they've won battles with OU for Koda Martin, Josh Walker, Dylan Sumner-Gardner to name a few. 2015 TE Jordan Davis, the newest commit, also had an Oklahoma offer. Meanwhile, QB Justice Hansen and WR Dallis Todd are the only ones on the Sooners' 2014 commit list that had an offer from the Aggies. I think that speaks volumes
Sam Khan Jr. (12:58 PM)
Alright everyone, thanks so much for participating and for the questions this week. Have a great weekend and until next time, take care.