It's hard to believe I've been writing for Gigem247 for just about a month now and I have yet to post any sort of ranking/list. How disappointing on my part.
Texas A&M DE Julien Obioha
Well, let's solve that problem. Midway into week two of Fall Camp, I broke down the top standout players from week one of the preseason practices.
1) WR Mike Evans — Following last season’s impressive showing as fellow redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel’s favorite target, Mike Evans has communicated his solid statistics last year were no fluke throughout this offseason. As Texas A&M’s only returning starter with the wide receiving corps, position coach David Beaty has identified Evans as the group’s silent leader, making his ‘lead-by-example’ persona a strong influence on the influx of high-caliber talent within the unit.
2) DE Julien Obioha — After starting 12 games for A&M last season but missing both the Cotton Bowl and spring training due to injury, Obioha has remained a force on the edge for the A&M defense. Entering spring training, Sumlin claimed Obioha’s slot wasn’t up for grabs despite his injury, saying the rising sophomore had earned the position during the season. Over the course of the first week of fall camp, Obioha has shown why his head coach had such confidence in his abilities.
3) QB Johnny Manziel — This list just wouldn’t be complete without a splash from everyone’s favorite quarterback. Despite off-the-field offseason issues, Manziel continued to work on his game, visiting the beaches of California to learn from QB guru George Whitfield, Jr. After two days of substantial media pressure following the break of the “autograph-gate” scandal, Manziel has visibly relaxed, showing consistent flashes of Heisman quality. Behind significant development in his pocket presence — an improvement quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital lauded — Manziel holds the potential to upgrade on last season’s version of Johnny Football.
4) LT Jake Matthews — Following his decision to remain with Texas A&M for another season — unlike fellow tackle Luke Joeckel — Jake Matthews has emerged as the offensive line’s uncontested leader. Now anchoring the left edge, Matthews’ consistent play during fall camp has been no surprise. A recognized cog in the Texas A&M offensive system, the stout senior will remain a centerpiece for his final stint with the Aggies this upcoming season.
5) WR Ricky Seals-Jones — The true freshman comes as advertised. Easily A&M’s strongest commitment of the 2013 recruiting class, Seals-Jones has shown incredible athletic versatility throughout the first week and looks to be a vital addition to the wide receiving corps. Despite the learning curve associated with the Aggies’ high-octane offensive scheme, Seals-Jones has seemingly adapted well and holds strong promise to emerge as an instant-impact playmaker for A&M.
6) LB Nate Askew — Competing for a position at wide receiver his first three seasons with the Aggies yet never securing a starting role, Askew made the leap to linebacker during the spring with hopes of snaring playing time on the defense. Named by Sumlin as one of the team’s top athletes during the spring, Askew has made the transition well to outside linebacker, regularly making tackles for the defense and plays in coverage.
7) DT Hardreck Walker — Another true freshman, Hardreck Walker has been a surprising impact on the defensive line throughout the first week of fall camp. Despite entering College Station as one of the lesser-recognized defensive tackles for the 2013 recruiting class, Walker has dominated in the center, showing fierce physicality and aggressiveness. Certainly a notable standout, Walker may be considered for strong amounts of playing time, especially with starting defensive tackle Kirby Ennis suspended for week one against Rice.
Texas A&M TE Cameron Clear
8) TE Cameron Clear — The big-time junior college transfer has shown up for the A&M offense thus far through fall camp, replicating and improving upon results from spring training. Cameron Clear, who entered College Station a physical specimen already, has continued to bulk up and refine his blocking technique. Meanwhile, Sumlin and the passing offense have begun including Clear on a consistent basis, hoping to develop another dimension for both the offense and the powerful tight end.
9) LB Tommy Sanders — Another junior college transfer, Tommy Sanders has already begun to stand out at linebacker for the A&M defense, which graduated two-thirds of its starters at the position. Under new linebackers coach Mark Hagen and defensive backs coach Marcel Yates, Sanders has developed into a strong coverage linebacker, showing incredible movement and versatility in space.
10) LB Jordan Mastrogiovanni — Having only joined the depleted A&M linebacker corps this June, true freshman Jordan Mastrogiovanni has made leaps and bounds towards emerging as a consistent contributor for the Aggie defense. With an offseason of weight training and conditioning behind him, Mastrogiovanni has visibly bulked up and has shown both a passion and a “feel” for the outside linebacker position thus far through fall camp. With only the massive learning curve standing in his way, the young linebacker is poised to catch some playing time this fall if his work ethic holds up the remainder of camp.