2013 presents a new challenge for A&M’s Johnny Manziel

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Everything about Texas A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel caught the rest of the college football world off guard in 2012. With a new coach — Kevin Sumlin — and a new conference — the SEC West — the Aggies weren’t predicted by some *ahem* to even go bowling, much less finish 11-2 with perhaps the best individual victory of the season on the road against Alabama last November.

Meanwhile, the stars aligned perfectly for Manziel. The redshirt freshman emerged from an offseason quarterback battle where he was presumed to play the role of backup and ended up as one of the most exciting players in the country — not to mention the first ever freshman, redshirt or otherwise, to win the Heisman.

Neither Manziel nor A&M will have the element of surprise on their side in 2013. Nevertheless, the expectations in College Station are as high as they’ve ever been. The Aggies begin spring practice on Saturday, the first steps toward what the Aggie faithful feels could be a season even more special than the last.

As it should be, Sumlin’s fear is complacency. When asked what his Heisman trophy winning quarterback can improve upon this year, Sumlin replied “his footwork, his mechanics, his thought process and overall knowledge of the offense.”

Coachspeak at its finest? Sure, but understand this: 12 opposing teams now have tape on Manziel.

What has helped Manziel, and what will continue to help him, are his improvisation skills that seem better suited for Second City in Chicago than a football field. First glance tells you there’s simply no defensive scheme that will contain this:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtxaHwgr6ZQ&w=490]

Manziel’s “roll outta bed and ball” game is terrifying, but there are habits, tendencies, weaknesses in it. They just have to be found, and there’s plenty of time between now and the start of the 2013 season for opposing coaches to find them. Great mechanics and the ability to understand defenses are qualities every quarterback should rely on; the extra mobility Manziel displays should be a compliment to that, not a substitute.

Then there’s the issue of A&M’s offensive line. The last time we saw it collectively as one unit, it was giving Manziel an eternity to throw in a Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma. Can it hold up similarly in 2013? Although Luke Joeckel is gone — perhaps as the first pick in this year’s draft — Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi are back, so turnover along the O-line isn’t as bad as it could be.

Still, and even with his improvisational skills, Manziel had it made in 2012. Add in a pair of new coordinators with the departure of Kliff KIngsbury to Texas Tech, and the situation isn’t quite the same for Manziel in 2013.

But will he, and A&M, be as successful? Manziel showed he can handle the spotlight in the post-Heisman craze, but now comes the task of improving his game. That’s where the next several months factor in.

Oklahoma State losing QB Brendan Costello to the transfer portal

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Another quarterback with the Costello surname has hit the portal, although this one is from Oklahoma State football.

According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports, Brendan Costello has taken the first step in leaving the Cowboys by entering the NCAA transfer database.  Thus far, the Oklahoma State football program has not commented on the development.  Nor has the player on his personal Twitter account for that matter.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Barring the unexpected, Costello will have to sit out the 2020 season.  That would then leave him with three years of eligibility to use starting in 2021.

Costello was a three-star member of the Oklahoma State football Class of 2019.  The California product was rated as the No. 17 dual-threat quarterback in the country according to the 247Sports.com composite.

The 5-11, 194-pound quarterback didn’t see the field as a true freshman.  Obviously, Costello took a redshirt for the 2019 campaign.

Spencer Sanders is the incumbent under center for OSU.  As a redshirt freshman a year ago, Sanders threw for 2,065 yards and 16 touchdowns.  He also ran for another 628 and a pair of scores.  The Big 12 coaches named him as the conference’s Offensive Freshman of the Year.

This past cycle, Oklahoma State also added Shane Illingworth to its 2020 football recruiting class.  The four-star signee was rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country.

Navy’s Tony Brown enters the transfer portal

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The on-again, off-again relationship Navy has had with the transfer portal is back on again.  Unfortunately for the service academy.

In late March, it was reported that Chelen Garnes had decided to enter the transfer portal. However, the defensive back subsequently pulled his name out of the database in a sign that he would be sticking with the Navy football team.  Earlier this month, though, Garnes opted to reenter the portal, the Capital Gazette reported.  Starting cornerback Michael McMorris, meanwhile, entered the database back in January.  Four months later, the Baltimore Sun reported last week that the defensive back has done a 180 and opted to remain with the Navy football team.

This week, however, 247Sports.com is reporting that Tony Brown has opted to enter his name into the NCAA transfer database.  As a junior, Brown would likely not be leaving the academy as a graduate.  That would mean the striker would have to sit out the 2020 season.  Barring a waiver from the NCAA of course.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Brown was a two-star member of the Navy football Class of 2018.  The Sicklerville, New Jersey, product was the No. 55 player regardless of position in his home state. Brown attended the Naval Academy Prep School during the 2017-18 academic year.

As a true freshman in 2018, Brown appeared in two games.  He started three of the 13 games in which he played in 2019.  The 6-3, 201-pound hybrid linebacker/defensive back returned a fumble eight yards for a score in one of those appearances.

Ex-Georgia WR Josh Moran transfers to New Mexico State

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One former Georgia Bulldog has found himself a new college football home.  Unofficially, of course.

Earlier this offseason, Josh Moran opted to enter the NCAA transfer database.  Tuesday, the wide receiver announced that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career at New Mexico State.  Moran divulged the news on his personal Twitter account.

“Thank you Jesus for these past four years at Georgia which have been nothing short of amazing,” Moran wrote. “Yes, the SEC Championship, Rose Bowl win, and National Championship runs were unbelievable, but looking back nothing compares to the lifelong brothers I now have leaving this place.  To my coaches, trainers, and teammates I love you guys and y’all will forever hold a special spot in my heart.

“I want to thank Coach [Doug] Martin and the entire coaching staff at NMSU for believing in me and making the recruiting process as easy as possible during this pandemic. I can’t wait to get to Las Cruces and compete with the guys! God bless and Go Aggies!”

As a graduate transfer, Moran will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.  This will be his final season of eligibility.

Moran was a three-star member of the Georgia football Class of 2016.  The Alpharetta, Ge., native held offers from, among others, Air Force, Army, Cal, Louisville, Navy and West Virginia.  Instead of accepting a scholarship, however, Moran opted to become a walk-on at Georgia.

During his time with the Bulldogs, though, Moran didn’t see any game action.  He spent his entire four years in Athens as a scout team player for the Bulldogs.

NMSU is coming off a 2-10 2019 campaign in its second season as a football independent.  The Aggies had previously been members of the Sun Belt Conference.  That relationship ended following the 2017 season.

South Alabama announces home-and-home with Ole Miss

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Thanks to Ole Miss, we have some football scheduling news you don’t normally see.  An SEC school agreeing to a straight home-and-home with a Group of Five program.

South Alabama Monday confirmed that it has reached an agreement on a home-and-home series with Ole Miss in football.  The Jaguars will travel to Oxford Sept. 2, 2028.  The Rebels will make the five-hour trek to Mobile Sept. 1 of the following season.

The 2029 game will mark the first time an SEC school travels to the Sun Belt Conference program since Mississippi State in 2014.  That was actually the first and only time since USA became an FBS member.

South Alabama and Ole Miss have met once in football. That came back in 2017, with the Rebels claiming a 47-27 win in Oxford.

“We are very excited to sign this home-and-home contract with Ole Miss,” USA head coach Steve Campbell said in a statement. “They have a proud program and tradition, it will be great to have them play in Hancock Whitney Stadium; hopefully they will be the first of many Power Five schools to make that trip to play here in Mobile. Mississippi has been very good for us as far as recruiting, we have brought in a lot of talented student-athletes from the state, I know it will be exciting for those future recruits to play Ole Miss.”

USA’s new stadium, incidentally, is set to open this coming season.  That site will also serve as the new home of the Senior Bowl.

In its history, USA has played six games against SEC schools.  They are 1-5 in those games.  The lone win?  Against Mississippi State in 2016.

Outside of Ole Miss, USA has five future games against members of the SEC.  Those are:

  • Florida (2020)
  • Tennessee (2021)
  • LSU (2024)
  • Auburn (2025)
  • Kentucky (2026).