Texas A&M receivers: Preseason expectations vs. reality
Texas A&M’s season was an up-and-down campaign. It was filled with crazy highs, like a No. 6 ranking in September, and painful lows, like the 59-0 loss to Alabama. No one knew what to make of the quarterback situation coming into the year, but there was a lot of excitement around the talented receiving corps.
On the whole, the Aggies offense was not as good as we’ve come to expect, especially under Kyle Allen’s direction after Kenny Hill was benched and subsequently suspended. The Aggies averaged 316.3 yards and 26.5 points per game in his four starts, a far cry from their usual standard. The Aggies finished sixth in the SEC in total offense and fifth in points per game after finishing first in those categories in both 2012 and 2013.
Even with the letdown, it’s time to look back to see how the receivers fared compared to what was expected of them in the preseason. Let’s take a look at Allen’s best pass catchers and run down the list to see how they stacked up to their hype.
Preseason expectation: With Mike Evans gone to the NFL, Kennedy would improve upon his solid junior year and become the Aggies’ clear No. 1 receiver.
Reality: Kennedy fell short of matching his totals from a year ago, dipping to 44 catches, 529 yards and 4 touchdowns (he had 60/658/7 a year ago). Part of the reason for the drop off was injury, as Kennedy missed two games with a shoulder injury. He was sorely missed in those games, ugly losses to Mississippi State and Ole Miss, as the Aggies had issues with drops and could have used Kennedy’s sure-handedness and solid route-running ability. Kennedy never fully got on track or clicked with Kyle Allen after the injury, with one game over 100 yards and the other four with 22 or fewer yards.
Preseason expectation: The massive redshirt freshman would step back onto the field and make an immediate impact, wowing with his size and strength. Kevin Sumlin thought enough of Seals-Jones to use the Swag-copter to check him out in high school, a clear sign that Seals-Jones would be a star.
Reality: As with any first-year player, Seals-Jones struggled with consistency after missing nearly all of last year with a knee injury. Sumlin praised him throughout the season for his improvement as a blocker and overall receiver over the course of the year, but he never fully emerged as the monster many thought he would be. Seals-Jones averaged less than 10 yards per catch, with a team high 48 grabs for 444 yards on the season. Three of his four scores came in the first three weeks of the season, and he didn’t go over 100 yards in any single game.
Preseason expectation: The five-star freshman would make an impact all over the field, from the return game to passing offense.
Reality: Noil ended up looking like the Aggies most talented offensive weapon throughout the course of the season. At only 5-foot-11, he was Texas A&M’s best jump-ball receiver, capable of making acrobatic and near-impossible catches look easy with defenders draped all over him. Noil was just as dangerous returning kicks. Despite not breaking any for a touchdown, he seemed to be close at least once a game. Noil finished the regular season with 44 catches, 559 yards and 7 TD while averaging 24 yards per kick return.
Preseason expectation: Reynolds was thought of as a guy to keep an eye on after transferring from junior college. He showed his talent in preseason, but didn’t separate himself for a starting job off the bat.
Reality: Reynolds emerged as the Aggies’ most reliable target over the course of the season, and his rapport with Allen was second to none, although he was just as productive with Kenny Hill at quarterback in the early going. Reynolds finished second on the team with 47 catches, was tops with 762 yards and he finished second in the conference with 12 touchdown catches. He was Allen’s most reliable deep threat, and as the season went along he improved as he learned how to deal with the press coverage defenses threw at the Aggies receivers.