No Manziel, but Texas A&M not lacking in QB options

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Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has been rather fortunate when it comes to his starting quarterback situation over the years. Since first becoming a head coach at Houston in 2008 through the 2013 season, Sumlin has had to go in to a spring practice wondering who his starting quarterback will be for the fall just twice. That is a luxury most coaches rarely get to enjoy, and it is one not found in College Station, Texas as the Aggies wrap up their first full week of spring practices.

So, just who will get the chance to fill in the spot left vacant by Johnny Manziel, who has left to perhaps be one of the top picsk in the 2014 NFL Draft?

“Life after Johnny Manziel seems to be the growing theme around here,” Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said earlier this week, according to AggieSports.com. “But, I’ve been fortunate enough to have good quarterbacks everywhere I’ve been. And I’m looking for the next guy to come in to be their own man and step up and make a name for themselves.”

Aren’t we all? The Aggies will not have another player quite like Manziel, this much should go without saying, but they do have options to work with this spring and again in the summer training sessions leading up to the first kickoff of the season. Three players will be competing for the opportunity, but only one has any real experience to rely on. Senior quarterback Matt Joeckel is a more traditional pro-style quarterback, so he would certainly be a 180-degree flip in offensive style for the Aggies. Freshman Kyle Allen could be another option if the Aggies choose to go with a pro-style approach to the offense. Allen was a part of the most recent recruiting class but is already enrolled at Texas A&M. Joeckel has the experience, but Allen has the long-term potential. Sumlin has shown he has not been too timid when it comes to starting a young quarterback. Take his last two starting quarterbacks for example, Case Keenum at Houston and Manziel at Texas A&M.

One thing we learned while watching Manziel at Texas A&M is that it can serve well to have a player who can move around and make plays happen out of nowhere, or adjust on the fly. Maybe Joeckel or Allen could be capable of that, but the quarterback who has the dual-threat tendencies already is sophomore Kenny Hill. Hill was the fourth-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the nation in 2013. If Sumlin wants to have a player who can open things up a bit, Hill may prove to be the best option available.

Whoever gets the eventual nod, a decision that may not come until much closer to the start of the new season, neither should worry about replacing Manziel. They each must embrace what they can do and try to stay within their abilities.

“I know the next guy to play is not going to be the next Johnny Manziel, but who knows, he’ll probably bring a different aspect to the game and he’ll probably be pretty good at what he does,” Spavital said. “There is no panic with me, the best thing is you gotta put him in the best position to succeed.”

Four-star 2017 DE Nathan Proctor leaving Virginia Tech

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If Nathan Proctor is to live up to his recruiting pedigree, he’ll be doing it somewhere other than Blacksburg.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday, Proctor announced that he has decided to transfer from Virginia Tech for unspecified reasons. The defensive lineman’s name is already listed in the NCAA transfer database, although he could decide to withdraw from the portal and return to the Hokies.

“Virginia [T]ech is an outstanding institution and has a great football program and I am very thankful to have called it my home the past two years,” Proctor wrote as part of his goodbye missive. “Thank you to all of the coaches that helped me along the way and all of my friends and family for the support.”

A four-star member of Tech’s 2017 recruiting class, Proctor was rated as the No. 10 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Maryland. Only one signee in the Hokies’ class that year, defensive back Devon Hunter, was rated higher than Proctor.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Proctor played in eight games this past season and was credited with three tackles.

As for a potential landing spot? Three Virginia Tech players have already transferred to Maryland this offseason, and Proctor is from Maryland.

Two Georgia Tech players retire because of medical issues

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So much for the positives on the personnel front for Geoff Collins.

After seeing three transfers this month denied immediate-eligibility waivers, Georgia Tech confirmed this week it had officially added a transfer from Notre Dame. The same day, however, the football program also announced that two players, senior defensive lineman Brad Morgan (back) and redshirt freshman wide receiver Tija’i Whatley (unspecified), have both been forced to retire from the sport because of medical issues.

The sliver of a silver lining, though, is that the school stated both Morgan and Whatley will remain on scholarship — neither will count against the program’s 85-man limit, it should be noted — and involved with the team in non-playing capacities.

“I feel for both Brad and Tija’i,” the head football coach said in a statement. “It goes without saying that they will continue to be a part of the Georgia Tech football family and we’re looking forward to the contributions that they continue to make to our organization and the Institute.”

Morgan played in 28 games the past three seasons, starting three games at right guard this past season. This offseason, he moved from offensive to defensive line and was expected to be part of the Yellow Jackets’ rotation prior to being forced to walk away.

Whatley was a three-star 2018 signee who took a redshirt as a true freshman.

Nick Saban brings in Ray Rice to speak to Alabama players

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If you’re trying to show your players how to avoid doing the wrong things, bringing in someone who did one of the most absolutely vile and abhorrent things — and is successfully turning his life around — is probably not the worst way to go about your business.

Already this offseason, Nick Saban has brought in Mike Tyson to speak to his Alabama football team.  On Thursday, Ray Rice was in Tuscaloosa as the Crimson Tide head coach’s “Title IX speaker” to touch on subjects such as domestic violence.

Then a member of the Baltimore Ravens, the former Rutgers running back was suspended by the NFL in 2014 after videos surfaced of Rice punching his then-fiancée Janay Palmer and dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator.  Initially suspended, Rice never played another down in the NFL because of an incident Kyle Flood, then the Scarlet Knights’ head coach and now an assistant coach at Alabama, described at the time as a sad day for RU football.

Rice, who is now married to Janay Palmer, has since turned into a motivational speaker of sorts, speaking in front of football players at programs such as Georgia (HERE) and Ohio State (HERE).

Prior to Rice’s latest appearance, Saban explained his reasoning for bringing Rice in.

Well, he’s obviously going to talk about how to treat the opposite sex and having the proper respect for other people,” Saban said when asked about Rice’s appearance. “And I think that’s important to relationships. It’s important as a person to be able to do those things in a very respectful manner.

I think a lot of the players can relate to (Rice’s) circumstance,” Saban said. “And it will be interesting to hear a guy that has had issues that now has turned a corner and has really done everything he can to help other people not have the same problem that he has. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him doing that and we’re certainly glad to have him here.

UTEP mourns passing of TE Luke Laufenberg, 21, after two-year battle with leukemia

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For the second time this month, the insidiousness that is cancer has struck at the heart of college football.

Following a nearly two-year battle with leukemia, Luke Laufenberg passed away early Thursday morning, his father, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Babe Laufenberg, heartbreakingly revealed on Twitter. ” The hole in our hearts will never be filled,” Laufenberg wrote. “You are my hero. RIP my sweet Luke. See you on the other side.”

The younger Laufenberg had just signed with UTEP this past February as a tight end and was expected by many to win a starting job before his health began to fail again later on in the offseason.

Laufenberg actually began his collegiate career as a walk-on at Texas A&M. On the day after Christmas 2017, Laufenberg was diagnosed with leukemia; in May of the following year, he was declared cancer-free and, after the 230-pound player had regained the 90-plus pounds he had lost during chemotherapy, began his trek back to college football, first at a junior college in 2018 before signing with UTEP earlier this year.

By the summer, sadly, the disease had returned with a fatal ferocity, with doctors telling his family in July that “his condition was terminal and that he had just a few weeks left.”

Below is a statement from UTEP head coach Dana Dimel:

Luke Laufenberg touched our hearts and souls forever. His spirit and fight are reminders of what it means to play and coach the game of football. He was a fighter, a champion and a wonderful person. He was a very talented young man that lived his life and left a huge mark on everyone he came in contact with. He was a wonderful individual and will not be forgotten on our football team. Our student-athletes learned from how he prepared himself and the way he handled adversity. I know Luke loved playing football for UTEP and he will forever be a MINER!

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those affected by the young man’s way-too-early passing.­