On Tuesday the SEC coaches gave a vote of confidence to the Athlon Sports preseason-ranked No. 20 team in the nation, placing six Texas A&M Aggies at seven different positions on their preseason All-SEC teams.
The top vote getters from head coach Kevin Sumlin's team were defensive end Myles Garrett and center Mike Matthews, both earning first-team selections. Rounding out the honorees were right tackle Germain Ifedi (second team), wide receiver Josh Reynolds (third), punter Drew Kaser (third), and return specialist Speedy Noil (third).
The only question about Garrett in regards to the preseason list was which team would the SEC coaches vote him to, first or second? As a freshman Garrett led Texas A&M in sacks (11.5), tackles for a loss (14.0), and quarterback hurries (9). Garrett finished the season with 53 stops earning second-team All-SEC honors and consensus freshman All-American and freshman All-SEC selections.
A senior, Matthews is entering his third year as a starter for the Aggies having compiled 23 career starts. Beyond the preseason SEC coaches’ list, Matthews is on the Rimington Trophy watch list for a second consecutive season and was tagged as an Athlon Sports preseason second-team All-SEC honoree.
Ifedi is a mountain (6-6, 335) at right tackle. The redshirt junior has been a fixture on the Aggies’ offensive line over the last two years, starting in 24 of A&M’s 26 games. As a sophomore Ifedi helped anchor a line that only allowed 27 sacks on the season in 514 pass attempts.
Fans may get out of their seats on fourth down for a beverage or a restroom break but what fans of the 12th Man are missing is Kaser flipping field position. Coaches named Kaser a third-team punter after he averaged 44.1 yards per punt in 2014 with 22 of his 62 punts being downed inside the 20-yard line. Kaser did not have a punt blocked last season and 22 of his kicks were fair caught.
Supreme athlete Noil might be thought of more for his play at wide receiver but coaches across the conference appreciate and fear his abilities as a punt and kick returner as well naming him to the third-team all-purpose position and third-team return specialist. The sophomore from New Orleans had 645 kick return yards on 27 attempts and 180 punt return yards on 15 attempts last season. As a receiver, Noil was fourth on the team in receptions (46) but third in receiving yards (583) and touchdowns (5).
All Reynolds did in 2014 is break the school record for receiving touchdowns with 13. The junior college transfer acclimated quickly to Sumlin’s offense finishing second in receptions (52) and receiving yards (842). At the end of his sophomore campaign Reynolds earned second-team All-SEC honors and was voted the team’s 2014 Offensive MVP.
Texas A&M opens the season on Sept. 5 with a neutral-site game against Arizona State in Houston.
2015 Preseason Coaches All-SEC Teams
TE: Evan Engram, Ole Miss
OL: Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss; Vadal Alexander, LSU; Cam Robinson, Alabama; John Theus, Georgia; Mike Matthews (C), Texas A&M
WR: Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina; Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
QB: Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
RB: Nick Chubb, Georgia; Leonard Fournette, LSU
AP: Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
TE: Hunter Henry, Arkansas
OL: Dan Skipper, Arkansas; Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M; Greg Pyke, Georgia; Denver Kirkland, Arkansas; Ryan Kelly (C), Alabama
WR: D'haquille Williams, Auburn; Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia
QB: Maty Mauk, Missouri
RB: Alex Collins, Arkansas; Derrick Henry, Alabama
AP: Leonard Fournette, LSU
TE: O.J. Howard, Alabama
OL: Alex Kozan, Auburn; Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas; Devonte Danzey, Auburn; Jordan Swindle, Kentucky; Brandon Shell, South Carolina; Evan Boehm (C), Missouri
WR: Demarcus Robinson, Florida; Travin Dural, LSU; Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
QB: Jeremy Johnson, Auburn; Josh Dobbs, Tennessee
RB: Jonathan Williams, Arkansas; Kelvin Taylor, Florida; Russell Hansbrough, Missouri
AP: Speedy Noil, Texas A&M
DL: Myles Garrett, Texas A&M; Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss; A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama; Chris Jones, Mississippi State
LB: Reggie Ragland, Alabama; Curt Maggitt, Tennessee; Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
DB: Vernon Hargreaves, Florida; Cyrus Jones, Alabama; Jalen Mills, LSU; Jonathan Jones, Auburn
DL: Jonathan Bullard, Florida; Derek Barnett, Tennessee; Jonathan Allen, Alabama; Montravius Adams, Auburn
LB:Antonio Morrison, Florida; Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; Kendell Beckwith, LSU
DB: Will Redmond, Mississippi State; Tre'Davious White, LSU; Cameron Sutton, Tennessee; Tony Conner, Ole Miss
DL: Carl Lawson, Auburn; Davon Godchaux, LSU; Caleb Azubike, Vanderbilt; Ryan Brown, Mississippi State
LB:Leonard Floyd, Georgia; Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn; Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
DB: A.J. Stamps, Kentucky; Rohan Gaines, Arkansas; Trae Elston, Ole Miss; Jonathan Ford, Auburn; Eddie Jackson, Alabama
PK: Marshall Morgan, Georgia
P: JK Scott, Alabama
RS: Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
PK: Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky
P: Jamie Keehn, LSU
RS: Leonard Fournette, LSU; Isaiah McKenzie, Georgia
PK: Elliott Fry, South Carolina
P: Drew Kaser, Texas A&M
RS: Darius Sims, Vanderbilt; Speedy Noil, Texas A&M
— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.