Christian Kirk

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Texas A&M WR Speedy Noil making quick exit to NFL in 2017

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Texas A&M wide receiver Speedy Noil has made his decision, and it will no longer include playing for the Aggies. Noil announced, via Twitter, he will be declaring for the NFL Draft and leaving College Station behind a year early.

Noil joins fellow Aggie wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones in declaring early for the NFL Draft. Seals-Jones made his intention public last week. Texas A&M’s returning wide receiver unit is taking some hits through attrition between early departures and graduation. Christian Kirk is, for the moment, the only player returning who has had any impact in the passing game in 2017.

Noil appeared in nine games for the Aggies in 2016, in which he caught 21 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns. Noil, a five-star recruit out of high school in Texas A&M’s Class of 2014 showed great promise in his freshman season with 46 catches for 583 yards and five touchdowns, but the previous two seasons combined saw fewer receiving yards (551 yards) and fewer touchdowns (four) and more games missed due to suspension. The most recent suspension came last month as Texas A&M suspended Noil for the Aggies’ bowl game following an arrest for marijuana possession. It was Noil’s second arrest and third suspension in 13 months.

As he enters the rigors of the NFL Draft process, these are issues he will most certainly have to address in meetings and interviews with NFL representatives, but if he has cleaned up his act for the better and long-term, some NFL team may be getting a zippy wide receiver to throw into their offense or special teams unit.

Kansas State holds on for Texas Bowl victory over Texas A&M

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Texas A&M and Kansas State played some classics when the two programs were in the Big 12. Even though they entered this year’s Texas Bowl in different leagues, they apparently didn’t mind adding another wild one to series history on Wednesday night.

The Wildcats used several big plays and a few timely defensive stops to survive a late surge by the Aggies and held on to win in vintage Bill Snyder fashion 33-28 down in Houston.

Quarterback Jesse Ertz turned in one of his best performances of the year with his arm in throwing for 195 yards, including one beautiful touchdown pass to speedster Byron Pringle. The signal-caller also wasn’t too shabby in terms of running the ball either with 67 yards on the ground and a pair of scores to finish just behind Justin Silmon (77 yards on 10 carries) for the game.

Texas A&M struck first in the bowl by marching 75 yards on the opening drive to make things look easy. It turned out that was just an aberration as points and yards were hard to come by after that thanks to a stingy KSU defense. Quarterback Trevor Knight finished with 310 yards, a score and an interception to nearly rally the Aggies to a fourth quarter comeback but had his pass fall just short on fourth down to end the late threat.

Wideout Josh Reynolds had a program bowl record 12 catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns to pace the passing game for A&M, which also included some ridiculous catches from Christian Kirk and Ricky Seals-Jones as well. In the end it wasn’t enough though, and completes another disappointing late-season slide under coach Kevin Sumlin once again after going as high as No. 4 in the initial College Football Playoff standings earlier in the year.

On the flip side, the victory by Kansas State caps an impressive season in the Little Apple thanks to  Snyder and company. The program nearly ran the table against the old SWC and beat five different teams from the state of Texas in 2016 to once again hit the nine win plateau in another remarkable campaign by the Wildcats.

Alabama and Ohio State each land six players on AP All-American teams

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The Associated Press released its 2016 All-American teams for the 2016 season, and it should be no surprise the teams are loaded with a healthy sampling of players from Alabama and Ohio State, as well as headlined by the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson was named a First-Team All-American by the AP, as well as fellow Heisman Trophy finalists Jabrill Peppers of Michigan and Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma.

Four players from Alabama were named to the Frist Team, which was more players from a single school than any other program; DL Jonathan Allen, LB Reuben Foster, DB Minkah Fitzpatrick and OT Cam Robinson. Linebacker Tim Williams and tight end O.J. Howard received second-team recognition. Ohio State had three players on the first team; center Pat Elflein, safety Malik Hooker, and H-Back Curtis Samuel.

Houston freshman defensive tackle Ed Oliver is the first freshman to be named First-Team All-American since Sammy Watkins of Clemson and LSU punter Brad Wing received the honor in 2011.

The Associated Press All-American team is the third of the five All-American teams to be released that is used t determine the Consensus All-American team. At this rate, there should be a good number of consensus All-Americans on the list, with just the AFCA and FWAA All-American teams to be released in the coming days.

AP First Team All-Americans By Conference

  1. SEC (8)
  2. Big Ten (7)
  3. Pac-12 (4)
  4. ACC (2)
    Big 12 (2)
  5. American (1)
    MAC (1)

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Lamar Jackson, sophomore, 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Louisville

Running backs — D'Onta Foreman, junior, 6-2, 249, Texas; Dalvin Cook, junior, 5-11, 213, Florida State

Tackles — Cam Robinson, junior, 6-6, 310, Alabama; Ryan Ramczyk, junior, 6-6, 314, Wisconsin

Guards — Cody O’Connell, junior, 6-8, 354, Washington State; Dan Feeney, senior, 6-4, 305, Indiana.

Center — Pat Elflein, senior, 6-3, 300, Ohio State

Tight end — Evan Engram, senior, 6-3, 235, Mississippi

Wide receivers — Dede Westbrook, senior, 6-0, 176, Oklahoma; Corey Davis, senior, 6-3, 213, Western Michigan

All-purpose player — Curtis Samuel, junior, 5-11 197, Ohio State

Kicker — Zane Gonzalez, senior, 6-1, 195, Arizona State

DEFENSE

Ends — Myles Garrett, junior, 6-5, 270, Texas A&M; Derek Barnett, junior, 6-3, 265, Tennessee

Tackles — Jonathan Allen, junior, 6-3, 290, Alabama; Ed Oliver, freshman, 6-2, 290, Houston

Linebackers — Reuben Foster, senior, 6-1, 228, Alabama; Zach Cunningham, junior, 6-2, 230, Vanderbilt; Jabrill Peppers, junior, 6-1, 205, Michigan

Cornerbacks — Jourdan Lewis, senior, 5-11, 186, Michigan; Adoree’ Jackson, junior, 5-11, 185, Southern California

Safeties — Malik Hooker, sophomore, 6-2, 205, Ohio State; Minkah Fitzpatrick, sophomore, 6-1, 200, Alabama

Punter — Mitch Wishnowsky, sophomore, 6-2, 220, Utah

___

SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Deshaun Watson, junior, Clemson

Running backs — Donnel Pumphrey, senior, San Diego State; Christian McCaffrey, junior, Stanford

Tackles — Connor Williams, sophomore, Texas; Orlando Brown, sophomore, Oklahoma

Guards — Billy Price, junior, Ohio State; Will Hernandez, junior, UTEP

Center — Tyler Orlovsky, senior, West Virginia

Tight end — Jake Butt, senior, Michigan

Wide receivers — Zay Jones, senior, East Carolina; John Ross, junior, Washington

All-purpose player — Quadree Henderson, sophomore, Pitt

Kicker — Daniel Carlson, junior, Auburn

DEFENSE

Ends — DeMarcus Walker, senior, Florida State; Harold Landry, junior, Boston College

Tackles — Carlos Watkins, senior, Clemson; Montravius Adams, senior, Auburn

Linebackers — Raekwon McMillan, junior, Ohio State; T.J. Watt, junior, Wisconsin; Tim Williams, senior, Alabama

Cornerbacks — Rasul Douglas, senior, West Virginia; Desmond King, senior, Iowa

Safeties — Budda Baker, junior, Washington; Jamal Adams, junior, LSU

Punter — Cameron Johnston, senior, Ohio State

___

THIRD TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Baker Mayfield, junior, Oklahoma

Running backs — Saquon Barkley, sophomore, Penn State; Aaron Jones, junior, UTEP

Tackles — Mike McGlinchey, senior, Notre Dame; Forrest Lamp, senior, Western Kentucky

Guards — Nico Siragusa, senior, San Diego State; Quenton Nelson, junior, Notre Dame

Center — Ethan Pocic, senior, LSU

Tight end — O.J. Howard, senior, Alabama

Wide receivers — Amba Etta-Tawo, senior, Syracuse; Austin Carr, senior, Northwestern

All-purpose player — Christian Kirk, sophomore, Texas A&M

Kicker — Gary Wunderlich, junior, Mississippi

DEFENSE

Ends — Hunter Dimick, senior, Utah; Jordan Willis, senior, Kansas State

Tackles — Christian Wilkins, sophomore, Clemson; Solomon Thomas, junior, Stanford

Linebackers — Kendell Beckwith, senior, LSU; Jimmie Gilbert, senior, Colorado; Ben Boulware, senior, Clemson

Cornerbacks — Teez Tabor, junior, Florida; Cordrea Tankersley, senior, Clemson

Safeties — Nathan Gerry, senior, Nebraska; Weston Steelhammer, senior, Air Force

Punter — Michael Dickson, sophomore, Texas

QB Trevor Knight starts for Texas A&M but Aggies trail at halftime against LSU

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Pregame festivities at Kyle Field included a lot more than eating a few slices of turkey on Thanksgiving night.

On the Texas A&M sideline, the biggest news the Aggies have received in weeks was the fact that quarterback Trevor Knight warmed up and started against LSU on Thursday for the first time since injuring his shoulder against Mississippi State.

Despite the return of the signal-caller, the home team’s offense could not keep pace with LSU, which led the game itself 20-7 going into halftime. Knight finished the first two quarters with just 56 yards through the air on six-of-16 passing, but could manage just a single scoring drive when he found Christian Kirk on a wheel route to the end zone.

While Tigers fans were no doubt excited at tailback Derrius Guice‘s rushing (116 yards, one touchdown) and the play of their defense, the entire state of Louisiana (and Texas) were no doubt trying to digest reports that surfaced just prior to kickoff that the school was close to hiring Houston head coach Tom Herman.

It should make for an interesting backdrop to the second half with both teams aiming to keep their slim hopes for a Sugar Bowl bid alive and a lot of fans wondering what’s next for each program.

Miss. St. upsets A&M, shakes up playoff rankings

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Many an eyebrow was raised when one-loss Texas A&M was slotted ahead of unbeaten Washington in the first playoff rankings for the 2016 season.  Those eyebrows can now officially be lowered — to half-staff in College Station, as it turns out.

With star players on each side of the ball on the sidelines, A&M was unable to overcome its halftime deficit in the final two quarters as Mississippi State bullied its way to a 35-28 win in Starkville.  The Bulldogs held a 21-7 lead late in the second quarter, only to see Christian Kirk return a punt 93 yards for the score to cut the deficit to 14 just before the half; Kirk was responsible for slicing further into the lead, scoring on a 54-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to pull the Aggies to within seven at 28-21.

On the ensuing possession, however, the Bulldogs drove 73 yards in a drive that was culminated by Nick Fitzgerald‘s four-yard touchdown run with just over three minutes remaining in the game.  The punishing drive lasted 14 plays and burned nearly eight minutes off the fourth-quarter clock, and featured a trio of key third-down conversions.

With 1:33 left to play, though, a four-yard Jake Hubenak touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds on fourth down pulled the Aggies to within seven at 35-28.  However, the Aggies failed to recover an onside kick and the Bulldogs were able to run out most of the remainder of the clock.  They still had one more (very faint) chance, but that chance was intercepted to seal the upset.

Fitzgerald accounted for nearly 400 yards of offense — 209 passing, 180 rushing.  The sophomore also scored four of the Bulldogs’ five touchdowns, two each in the air and on the ground.

A&M, ranked No. 4 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, played the entire second half without starting quarterback Trevor Knight (shoulder), and the vast majority of the last two quarters without star defensive end Garrett Myles.  MSU improved to 4-5 overall and 2-3 in SEC play.