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. (4:02 PM)
Hey everyone! Welcome to the chat. Only a few days until the Aggies start fall camp. Lots to talk about so let's get right to the questions.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
When does Training Camp Open for Texas A&M?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:03 PM)
Chris, camp opens up on Monday afternoon. And I'm sure for head coach Kevin Sumlin and the team, it can't arrive fast enough.
Joe Young (California)
The 2014 class looks outstanding but we haven't had any additions in the last month. When can we expect to see them pick back up again?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:04 PM)
Joe, I think you could see some additions come after the Alabama game, a few weeks into the season. That game is going to draw so many recruits and have so much attention. I think the electric atmosphere could sway a few guys on the fence.
How sick are you of all the Johnny football talk?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:06 PM)
Here's what I'll say about that: I think I'd rather cover a team that has interesting things to talk about rather than one that nobody is talking about because they're not any good. However, I have experienced some Johnny fatigue simply because I think some of his offseason exploits have received a little too much attention from media. And certainly, I'm guilty of writing about a couple of those things.
A&M's offense looks to be as good as last year's, but how much should I be worrying about the defense? Will the new faces on that side of the ball be better?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:09 PM)
I think the depth is going to be improved and there are certainly talent upgrades in a few areas but you lose experience, especially in the front seven. I don't think anybody is going to step in and replace Damontre Moore's production, not singlehandedly. It's also not easy to replace veteran leadership like the Aggies got from Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart at linebacker last year. But the talent level will be solid and they'll be deep, in my opinion. A lot of freshman/newcomers will see time this fall.
whats the latest on our two suspend db's?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:10 PM)
Nothing new at the moment. Sumlin meets with the media next on Monday and I'll be sure to ask for an update. Last time I spoke with him was at SEC media days and Sumlin said "they're suspended indefinitely" but he couldn't comment further because of where things were at legally. We'll find out something new (hopefully) by Monday.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Can Manziel simply turn the switch on after a tumultuos offseason? Or will his erratic behavior trickel into the regular season, resulting in disappointment for himself, and Aggie fans?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:12 PM)
That's what we'll find out. I think there is evidence to suggest he can flip the switch (see: Cotton Bowl vs. Oklahoma). The good thing for him is that it's not like he didn't get any work done in the offseason. Whenever he was in College Station in the summer he was at workouts and 7-on-7s and he spent some of his own time working with his private quarterbacks coach, George Whitfield. I think he'll be ready when Aug. 31 arrives.
Kevin (Reno, NV)
Is Johnny Football out of control? Common sense would tell you to stay away from UT. In particular, a frat party where alcohol would only exacerbates things. Has/will Sumlin pull his young QB aside and have a talk with him before it's too late?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:14 PM)
I don't have an issue with him going to a frat party in Austin. To me, that's one of the things that was blown up unnecessarily. But that's Manziel's life now. Everything is a headline and people are clicking on it or watching it. If it's on his own time and he's not missing a workout or a class or a practice, I think he can do what he wants. He seemed to have a good time last fall (see: Halloween, Scooby Doo costume) and won the Heisman. As for Kevin Sumlin, he and Manziel have a pretty good, open relationship. Sumlin has no issue giving Manziel his opinion on matters and Manziel, I believe, is willing to listen. I don't think he'll lose control of the situation.
You can only pick one on each side (no pressure), so which incoming Freshman makes the most immediate impact on offense and defense in Fall camp?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:17 PM)
One on each side: I'll pick Ricky Seals-Jones on offense and Isaiah Golden on defense. The reason? Both have bodies that almost nobody else on the roster does. Golden is a legit-size SEC defensive lineman and Seals-Jones only possible body comparison (height, weight) at receiver is Mike Evans.
Who are the freshman that you expect to contribute the most this season?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:19 PM)
Trey, the two I just mentioned (Seals-Jones and Golden) I think are potential significant contributors. I also think you could see someone like WR LaQuvionte Gonzalez and may be CB Noel Ellis contribute in areas, either at their respective positions or in the return game on special teams.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
True or False, Justin Manning will be an ALL-SEC freshmen?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:22 PM)
I'll say false, unless starting DT Kirby Ennis misses significant time. I think Manning has the talent to do it (and according to the roster Manning is now up to 290 weight wise, which is good) but I think Golden might be more ready to contribute quickly based on his body size. If Ennis and Alonzo Williams stay healthy and are the mainstays at defensive tackle, Manning and Golden will have chances to contribute but maybe not enough to be all-conference freshmen.
Why is Miami underrated?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:23 PM)
No idea. I've been paying attention to the Aggies and the SEC since that's my job description, so I can't offer any insight to that.
What percent of the carries do you see each RB getting this year?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:26 PM)
I think you'll see Ben Malena getting the most early on, maybe about 35-40 percent, Brandon Williams getting about 25-30 percent and Trey Williams getting most of the rest with Tra Carson getting mixed in for situations (short-yardage, goal-line, etc.). Now as the season goes on, I think that could change, depending on how each produces and adapts to their duties (pass protection, receiving). As good as Malena is and as well as he fits, I think you could see Brandon Williams getting the bulk of the carries toward the end of the year. I think he might be the most talented/dynamic back on the roster.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think TAMU will be able to close the deal with defensive backs Nick Watkins and Jamal Adams? If not, is Stephen Parker a possibility at safety?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:30 PM)
Jamal Adams is difficult to call at this point, especially if he's going to take all five of his official visits before he makes a decision. Many seem to think Florida has the edge right now, and I agree with that assessment. But he's officially visiting the Aggies for the Alabama game and his last visit to A&M (spring game) was really positive, so I think the Aggies can really help themselves that day. But I think it's too early to say the Aggies can "close the deal" with Adams. As for Watkins, I don't get the sense that he's much of an Aggie lean at all. Parker I wouldn't rule out.
Is there a (non-freshman) player that so far we haven't heard much from that might step up and make a significant contribution this year?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:33 PM)
That's a great question. I think someone like center Mike Matthews, who is going to be the starting center this year, hasn't gotten much pub, but I think he's going to be pretty good. All the Matthews offensive linemen have been solid players and I think Mike is going to be as well. Derel Walker, the senior receiver who had a nice performance in the Maroon-and-White spring game, seems to have developed a solid rapport with Johnny Manziel. I think Walker has the chance to have a good season. One that I think people know about that maybe doesn't fit the category is Malcome Kennedy. But I think a lot of people feel like he's going to step in and be a big contributor since he got time last year.
What are A&M's chances with Tony Brown? Has his sister's enrollment situation with LSU been resolved and could that influence his decision?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:37 PM)
I think the Aggies have a pretty good shot at landing Brown. The reason is they offer one of the best combinations of his two sports: football and track. The Aggies are a perennial national champion in track and obviously the football program is on the rise. Brown is an elite track athlete and cares a lot about that part of his future. As for his sister's status with LSU, I don't believe that has been resolved quite yet but the school year starts soon, so certainly we should hear something soon. Regardless, I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that he goes where he she does. I think he's more than prepared to go his own way. Being at the same school with her would be a bonus though, maybe a tiebreaker if he feels two schools are really even.
What are the odds that A&M comes up with a win on 9/14?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:40 PM)
I'd say pretty good. The Aggies beat Alabama last year. I don't see a reason to believe it's impossible or that the Aggies have little chance to win. Is Alabama going to come in motivated? Yes, extremely motivated. But I'm pretty sure Kevin Sumlin's going to be playing that up to his team, that "everyone thinks 'Bama is going to beat us because they're out for blood." I bet Sumlin and the Aggies will be tired of hearing about how Alabama was emotionally spent after last year's LSU game and that's part of the reason why the Aggies beat them and that they were unprepared for Manziel but they will be this time around. I think it's a true coin-flip game.
Which one of the four running backs do you think will be the biggest difference maker?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:42 PM)
Brandon Williams. I think he's the best combination of running, catching and game-breaking speed of the group. Plus he has good size.
Chris (College Station, TX)
If A&M beats Bama, does CFB become the Manziel Show?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:44 PM)
You mean it's not already? Haha. If the Aggies beat 'Bama, things are going to get crazy. Manziel probably becomes the man to beat for the Heisman at that point and the Aggies I think automatically find themselves on BCS championship game watch until they lose. Because a win over the Crimson Tide probably launches them into the top two or three of the national rankings. There would be a long way to go (including a Nov. 23 date at Death Valley vs. LSU) but the Aggies would control their own destiny in the SEC West the rest of the way if they beat the Tide. So the attention paid to the program would get elevated another notch, if that's possible, considering how much attention Manziel has brought to the program.
have a question about Zach Rogers I used to live in Carrollton been watching him for some time why have Aggies not been on him I know now he is commited to Arkansas but a long time till 2015 signs you thoughts?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:46 PM)
It's probably a simple matter of that they have other guys rated higher than him on their board at that position. That doesn't mean they won't recruit him ever, but since he hasn't been invited for a visit to campus (to my knowledge at least), tells me that he's not a priority for them. If time wears on and they miss on some of their top targets at that position, could he become someone they pursue? Perhaps. I saw him at the Dallas NFTC and I liked his frame and the ability he showed in 1-on-1 drills. I think if he winds up signing with Arkansas, that's a quality signing for them.
Manziel (College Station, TX)
Want to go party with me?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:46 PM)
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think the Aggies will come out of Baton Rouge with a victory? And will the game be played at night or during the day?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:48 PM)
I think it's way too early to make that call. That game is so late in the season, there will be injuries to account for and we'll have a good feel for what each team's identity really is once you get midway through the season. As for day/night, the schedule is not set yet, but I'm willing to bet it's a night game unless Manziel isn't playing for some reason. Especially if both teams are ranked in the top 10 at the time.
Cyrus (San Antonio)
What are your thoughts on the move of Nate Askew to the Defensive side of the ball?
Sam Khan Jr. (4:50 PM)
I think it's a good move. It appeared he wasn't really going to get much time at receiver and with so many recruits coming in at the position. His size and athleticism should help the defense as long as he can pick up the schemes and assignments. He showed some real good signs in the spring and I think he'll contribute some in the fall.
Chris (College Station, TX)
Sept. 14th is probably A&M's biggest recruiting day in at least a decade, can Sumlin keep them coming in even if A
Sam Khan Jr. (4:52 PM)
Looks like you got victimized by the double-ampersand glitch. I'm assuming you're asking if he can keep the momentum even if the Aggies lose. I think as long as A&M doesn't get dominated by Bama, the recruiting momentum will still be fine. Ultimately winning is what matters and if the Aggies go 10-2 and lose to Alabama and LSU, I don't necessarily think they'll lose momentum. If they keep that game competitive, I think the atmosphere and all the stuff that comes with it will be more than enough for some guys to feel great about the Aggies.
Mack Brown (Austin)
Sam, I want to know which 3 coaches on the A&M football staff are the most important for the program so I can hire some like that.
Sam Khan Jr. (4:55 PM)
Haha...well played. Assuming you mean the assistants and not counting the head coach (obviously the most important)...I think defensive coordinator Mark Snyder is crucial. What he did last season with a defense that had limited depth and was undersized in some areas was pretty remarkable in my opinion. I think receivers coach David Beaty is critical because he's not only a good coach but also a terrific recruiter in a key area (Dallas-Fort Worth area). The third one is tough, but I'll go with Clarence McKinney, the new offensive coordinator. Like Beaty, good coach, but probably best known for his recruiting ability and he does it in a key area (Houston). I think you can make arguments for several of the others though. Tough choices, but those would be the three I pick.
So do you see him as someone you would offer?
Sam Khan Jr. (5:01 PM)
I can't make that judgment. I've watched a lot of football and covered it for a long time but I'm not a scout nor can I pretend to be one. I'm not as good a talent evaluator as the guys paid to do it, I promise you that. So I don't think it's really my place to say "yes, school X should offer prospect Y."
Sam Khan Jr. (5:02 PM)
Alright everyone, it's been fun. Thanks so much for joining. We'll do this again in a couple weeks. Until then, take care!