If you’re searching for a dark horse selection in the SEC West, Clay Travis says look no further than Texas A&M.
Recently, the Outkick the Coverage analyst spoke with SEC Country and explained why the Aggies are his SEC West dark horse pick for 2018. There’s renewed optimism in College Station after coach Jimbo Fisher arrived at Texas A&M following a run at Florida State from 2010-17 that included an 83-23 record with a national title in the 2013 season.
To Travis, the combination of quality recruiting by former coach Kevin Sumlin and Fisher’s ability to mold quarterbacks will drive the Aggies to success under their new coach.
“In the West, I’m guessing that Auburn doesn’t count as a dark horse so I would probably say — man, it’s a tough one. Again, I don’t believe in Coach O [Ed Orgeron at LSU]. I don’t think Ole Miss or Mississippi State are going to be in the mix, so I would probably take Texas A&M as my dark horse favorite if I had to pick somebody outside of the consensus,” Travis told SEC Country.
“First of all, I think that Jimbo Fisher is a really good coach. And I like to look at recruiting rankings. … Kevin Sumlin has consistently recruited at an elite level. And so as an overall group of talent, there is a lot of really good talent there.
“And I think if you look at what Jimbo has been able to do — whether it was with EJ Manuel, Christian Ponder, Jameis Winston, Deondre Francois — he can get a really talented quarterback to the utmost of his ability. And so we know, based on what we saw last year from A&M, there are a lot of different guys playing the quarterback position. I think he’ll find somebody who makes sense there and find a way to be somewhat competitive.”
With Fisher’s arrival, the buzz has started to build for Texas A&M. In April, SEC Network’s Cole Cubelic also told SEC Country that the Aggies are his dark horse pick for the coming season.
But as Travis points out, the Aggies’ road to SEC West contention won’t be simple in Fisher’s first campaign. They must resolve a quarterback competition featuring Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond. Plus, Texas A&M’s schedule includes difficult road tests against Alabama on Sept. 22 and Auburn on Nov. 3.
“They have to go to Alabama and Auburn,” Travis said. “That’s tough to come out of that spot as a dark horse. But I think they have the level of talent to be able to match up on a man-to-man basis with Alabama and Auburn better than, frankly, Arkansas, Ole Miss or Mississippi State do. And again, I’m just not willing to bet on Ed Orgeron based on his track record at LSU.”
Despite Fisher’s 10-year, $75 million contract, it would be wise for Texas A&M fans to show patience. It’s simple to envision the Aggies starting 2-2 with games against Clemson and Alabama in the first month of the season. Chances are, there will be growing pains for Texas A&M in the fall.
Still, it’s not unreasonable for Aggies fans and officials to expect a national title, given Fisher’s massive contract. If Texas A&M lives up to Travis’ prediction as a successful SEC West dark horse this year, the future will look strong in Aggieland.