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Texas A&M Football

A successful 2023 in Aggieland may be contingent on A&M's wideouts

July 18, 2023
7,543

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Call it a narrative. Or a sentiment. Or maybe a consensus.

Whatever it’s called, there seems to be a growing (insert noun here) at Southeastern Conference media days Texas A&M could emerge as a championship contender this football season.

Oh, but there’s a catch — a need for high-level pass catchers.

True, the SEC remains a “line of scrimmage” league. Winning in the SEC requires strong offensive and defensive lines.

However, recent history shows a national championship requires NFL-level receivers.

The last 10 college football national champions had a combined 14 receivers that were selected in the first or second rounds of the NFL Draft. That list includes guys like DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Mike Williams, Tee Higgins and Kelvin Benjamin.

That list will grow when Georgia’s Ladd McConkey and Brock Bowers, a receiver in a tight end’s body, enter the draft next April.

That factoid may be the source of the growing (narrative, sentiment, consensus) about A&M. The Aggies have a group of NFL-caliber receivers.

“Our (receiver) room is so together right now, we honestly don’t even care who’s going to be the starter, who’s going to be the face of the program. It doesn’t matter. As long as we’re winning, that’s all that matters.”
- Texas A&M WR Ainias Smith

A&M’s receiving corps should be ranked among the best in the SEC. Some lists have included the Aggie receivers among the Top 10 in America.

None would doubt sophomore Evan Stewart is a potential first-round pick.

Ainias Smith would probably be on an NFL roster if not for ankle and foot injuries that limited him to four games last season.

Moose Muhammad had a breakout year when stepping in for Smith.

Sophomore Noah Thomas is projected to have a breakout season this year.

Thomas, a muscular 6-foot-6 giant, has been so impressive in the offseason that, earlier this summer, coach Jimbo Fisher said he would be a starter.

If that is the case, the biggest problem the Aggies might have is deciding which receivers will be on the field.

Ainias Smith said that won’t be a problem.

“Our (receiver) room is so together right now. We honestly don’t even care who’s going to be the starter, who’s going to be the face of the program,” Smith said. “It doesn’t matter. As long as we’re winning, that’s all that matters.

"We’re all going to eat, especially with how unique and diverse our system is now. We have a lot of players that we can put in different positions at different times or at the same time.”

Smith has eaten well. He has 127 career catches for 1,612 yards and 17 touchdowns. He’s often been most productive in big games.

“I always try to go hard each and every game,” Smith said. “I try to play each game like it's my last game.”

Smith had 12 catches for 208 yards and four touchdowns in his last two games against Alabama. He had 125 receiving yards in the 2020 Orange Bowl victory over North Carolina.

Yet, he might not be in the starting lineup because Muhammad played so well in his place last season.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Muhammad caught five passes for 94 yards against LSU, including a 24-yard scoring grab.

“Me, personally, I don’t have a problem sitting out and watching those guys do their thing because, at the end of the day, they have to give me the rock because when I get it, I’m going to be crazy,” Smith said.

Besides, he’s mentored Muhammad and was thrilled to see him excel.

“I had told him throughout the season just stay ready because you never know when you’re opportunity is going to come,” Smith said. “From returning punts to returning kicks or being out there on the field or just being a blocker... (I) Just told him, ‘Find your role. Accept your role, and go hard at it. Stay ready. Whatever it is that you do, stay ready.’

“I feel like he did that. He came in. He stayed prepared. He was always ready to work. He was always eager to get on the field. When his moment came, he shined. So, I’m very proud of him.”

Of course, A&M needs more than talented receivers.

Receivers need quarterbacks Conner Weigman and/or Max Johnson to get them the football. Quarterbacks need an effective line to give them protection. The line could use productive running backs to help slow a pass rush.

The Aggies must prove themselves in those areas, but at least, they have already proven receivers.

A group of NFL-caliber receivers won’t guarantee victories, but recent history shows a championship can’t be won without them.

Discussion from...

A successful 2023 in Aggieland may be contingent on A&M's wideouts

5,267 Views | 7 Replies | Last: 7 mo ago by yell_on_6th st
TX_Aggie37
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AG
Stats and numbers don't tell the whole story on their own, but Stewart and Moose led the team with 649 and 610 yards respectively last season. That is the first time since 2019 we had a single guy, let alone two, with over 600 receiving yards (Ausbon w/ 872 and Q Davis with 616).

There were 166 guys with over 600 receiving yards last season. It's been discussed ad nauseam how stagnant our offense was the last two years, but the passing game specifically has been an absolute nightmare.

We have one of the more talented WR rooms in the country. WR won't be the problem. It's the combination of working off a successful running game, pass protection, and putting ourselves in good position on first and second downs so we don't have so many 3rd and 7+ plays that we need to improve upon. Otherwise this talented WR room won't get the catches to make a significant impact.

I am cautiously optimistic that Petrino can make it happen. I don't expect to be the #1 scoring offense in the country, but if we can find our way into the top 25 then we are doing something.
QB1
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AG
Did not read, but I'm betting it's more contingent on our O Line!!!!!
fla_agfan
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QB1 said:

Did not read, but I'm betting it's more contingent on our O Line!!!!!


Add coaching to that list
NoahAg
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Hot take: Our offense will be as good as our o-line.
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cageybee77
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greg.w.h
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AG
I would stop building up excuses. The team is sufficiently talented to win and possibly dominate. So we should.
yell_on_6th st
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Olin, stop asking Ainias stupid questions. You look like an idiot
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