1. PRICELINE NEGOTIATOR
After a 20-6 record in his first two seasons, and several job opportunities calling, Texas A&M ponied up $5 million per year to keep coach Kevin Sumlin through the 2019 season. “Kevin Sumlin has an excellent record as a coach,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. “He’s a good negotiator, we know that also.”
2. KENNY HILL’S SHOW
Sumlin coached his first season in the SEC with Johnny Manziel at quarterback, and he made believers of the rest of the SEC with how his up-tempo air-it-out offense could succeed. Sumlin has named sophomore Kenny Hill to replace Manziel. Hill edged out freshman Kyle Allen.
3. THEN THERE’S D
Cornerback Deshazor Everett has a dry but realistic sense of humor about a defense that returns seven starters. The problem is, the Aggies’ defense was awful last season. They allowed 475.8 yards and 32.2 points per game, the worst marks in the SEC. Asked if the defense would be better, Everett said, “Could we get much worse?”
Texas A&M was the only team in the league to bring a specialist to Media Days. Punter Drew Kaser, a finalist for the Ray Guy Award and a second-team All-American in 2013, made the trip. Kaser averaged 47.4 yards per punt last year, which beat Shane Lechler’s school record.
5. SUPER KYLE
A&M’s Kyle Field is undergoing a $450 million renovation and increasing capacity to 102,500. It is expected to be ready for the home opener on Sept. 6. “The pictures of it don’t do it justice,” Sumlin said.
His real name is Devante Lorenzo Noil, but his teammates just call him “Speedy.” The freshman wide receiver, a five-star recruit who has run 4.4s in the 40-yard dash, is in the Aggies’ starting lineup.
7. THE VISOR BECKONS
Star left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi was asked what he knew about the Gamecocks, A&M’s first opponent. “They’re a great team and they got a funny coach,” he said.
8. BIGGEST GAME IN 2014
Alabama, Oct. 18. After USC, the Aggies play three cupcakes and then three of the lesser SEC West teams. Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, lurks in mid-October. Win that one and, perhaps, pull a surprise in the season-opener, and A&M is likely 8-0 with Louisiana-Monroe, at Auburn, then home games against Missouri and LSU.
9. KEY PLAYER
Quarterback. Sumlin needs a director for his attack. He started an unknown (Manziel) two years ago, and that turned out well. Perhaps lightning will strike twice with the virtually anonymous Hill.
10. DID YOU KNOW?
The past two years, with Sumlin’s prolific offense run by Manziel, put Texas A&M in select company. The Aggies scored 78 touchdowns per season, which is second in SEC history. The 2008 Florida team scored 82.