Get the Athlon Sports Newsletter
Can Jameill Showers hold off Johnny Manziel?
Moving to the SEC was already expected to be a challenge for Texas A&M, but the Aggies will also have a new head coach and quarterback for 2012. Considering all of the new faces, it may take a season or two for all of the pieces to fall into place for new coach Kevin Sumlin. During Sumlin’s tenure at Houston, the Cougars boasted some of the nation’s top scoring offenses. Quarterback Case Keenum finished his career with 19,217 yards and 155 touchdowns – numbers that a Texas A&M quarterback will be unlikely to achieve over the next four seasons in the SEC.
Although Sumlin and coordinator Kliff Kingsbury torched opposing defenses with the pass in Conference USA, the SEC will present a different challenge. 11 of the 12 defenses in the SEC ranked 27th or better nationally against the pass in 2011. While the spread, pass-first offenses can work in the SEC, there’s no question Sumlin will have to have more balance in order to contend in the West Division.
#3 Jameill Showers (SO)
2011 stats: 40 yards, 0 TD, 33 rush yards, 1 TD
#2 Johnny Manziel (FR)
2011 stats: Redshirted
#16 Matt Joeckel (SO)
2011 stats: None
#6 Matt Davis (FR)
2011 stats: High School
Although the Aggies will have to break in a new quarterback, the line is one of the best in the nation and running back Christine Michael is a threat to rush for 1,000 yards.
Until a starter gets settled, look for Michael and the offensive line to shoulder much of the offensive focus early in the year.
Sophomore Jameill Showers served as the backup to Ryan Tannehill last season and completed 4 of 5 passes in limited work. He held onto the lead in spring practice, completing 20 of 31 throws for 203 yards and two touchdowns in Texas A&M’s spring game. Showers ranked as the No. 27 pro-style quarterback coming out of high school by Rivals.
Johnny Manziel pushed Showers for time in the spring but an off-the-field issue has raised question marks about his status for the season opener. Manziel ranked higher among recruiting sites coming out of high school and brings more of a dual-threat presence to the offense.
True freshman Matt Davis ranked as the No. 11 overall quarterback in the 2012 recruiting class by Athlon Sports and enrolled in time to compete for spring practice. Davis has an uphill battle to win the job as a true freshman, but he should be Texas A&M’s quarterback of the future.
Sophomore Matt Joeckel did not play last year and would seem like a longshot to win the starting job.
Related content: Texas A&M's 2012 Team Preview
Barring a push by Davis, the quarterback battle seems to be a two-man battle between Showers and Manziel. However, Manziel’s off-the-field incident certainly didn’t help his chances of winning the job.
Transitioning to a new offense and a tough defensive conference will likely make life difficult on Texas A&M’s quarterbacks this year. However, Showers should have plenty of time to throw behind a solid offensive line, while receiver Ryan Swope is one of the best in the SEC.
Expect Sumlin and Kingsbury to bring Showers along slowly, but there’s not much time to ease into the job with the SEC opener against Florida on Sept. 8.
Unless Showers or Manziel really struggles to move the offense, expect Davis to redshirt and make a run at the starting job next season.
Predicted Winner: Showers
by Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Related SEC Content
The SEC's Top 10 Fall Practice Storylines
College Football's All-Name Team for 2012
2012 Is a Make or Break Year for Tennessee's Derek Dooley
SEC 2012 Linebacker Rankings
SEC 2012 Defensive Line Rankings
SEC 2012 Offensive Line Rankings
SEC 2012 Wide Receiver Rankings
Athlon's 2012 SEC Predictions
2012 College Football Bowl Projections
Which SEC Teams Are on the Rise or Decline Going into 2012?
SEC's Top 25 Heisman Contenders for 2012
College Football's Top 10 Impact Transfers
Athlon's 2012 All-SEC Team