Texas A&M has a new leader in $75 million Head Coach Jimbo Fisher, who left a successful stint at FSU which included a National Championship. They come into 2018 with a QB battle, a now-healthy RB, and a young group of WR’s.
We met with Olin Buchanan, Columnist for Texags.com, to tackle some questions about Texas A&M football and help prioritize players for the 2018 college fantasy football rankings. Follow Olin on Twitter @olinbuchanan.
What will change offensively with the transition to Jimbo Fisher?
The most obvious difference will be the presence of a tight end. That position was almost non-existent in the offense of the previous regime. Jace Sternberger was used extensively as a receiver in the spring game and had more receiving yards than all A&M tight ends combined managed last season. Fisher needs a tight end for his pro style offense that is expected to be more physical than finesse. More emphasis will be placed on the running game. Previously, A&M used four-receiver set with the quarterback running the zone read. Fisher’s quarterbacks will often line up in the shotgun, but will also take snaps from under center. That never happened under the prior regime.
How do you see the Texas A&M QB battle playing out?
A huge question. Maybe the $75 million question. More pressure and responsibility is put on the quarterback in Fisher’s system and he says he’s still waiting to determine which candidate can best handle that responsibility. Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond have about the same amount of playing experience, though Starkel does have an extra year of being in a college program. Starkel has a stronger arm and last season was a superior passer, though Mond performed quite well for a then true freshman that wasn’t expected to play. Mond is a better athlete and running threat. The bet here is Starkel starts the season-opener, but if he falters there will be little hesitancy to bring in Mond.
RB Trayveon Williams disappointed many fantasy owners in 2017. What do you project for Williams' production and the rest of the RB group?
No one was more disappointing than Williams. He got off to a explosive start with a 200-yard outburst against UCLA, then suffered an ankle injury the next week. He never fully recovered. He’s healthy now and if he can avoid injury he’ll could be one of the more explosive runners in the SEC. A lot of that will depend on whether the offensive line gets significantly better. He has great speed and acceleration and has added some bulk that should increase his durability. Those behind him on the depth chart are largely unproven. It would be no surprise if a freshman from Fisher’s first A&M recruiting class emerges as Williams’ backup.
Many in the college fantasy football world believe Jhamon Ausbon will have a breakout season. Do you feel the same way? Who else are the top targets at WR/TE for A&M?
Some would say Ausbon already broke out. He had 50 catches last season. But most feel that was just an appetizer. He’s a big receiver and — though not a blazer — fast enough to make big plays. Certainly, the expectations in College Station are that he will take the step from productive starter to bona fide star. Look for him to be the Aggies’ leading receiver. If he isn’t then Sternberger probably will be. Fisher has frequently said the tight end position will be a significant part of the passing game. Sophomore receiver Camron Buckley showed flashes as a little-used freshman and his role figures to expand greatly. Also, highly-recruited freshman Jalen Preston could make an immediate impact. He has great speed and may even emerge as the greatest big-play threat.
Who are the young offensive players-to-watch who could be stars in 2019 and beyond?
Ausbon and Preston quickly come to mind as young guys with star potential. Maybe one of the quarterbacks could be included, but both have so much to prove. Sophomore tackle Carson Green started as a freshman and showed great promise. Perhaps Williams doesn’t qualify because he’s in his third year, but he already has one 1,000-yard season in his career and he has the ability to dramatically exceed that total.