Texas A&M season awards: Excellent individual talent overshadowed by team disappointment
It was another winning season for coach Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M, one that resulted in an 8-4 regular-season mark and .500 finish in the SEC for the second time in three years.
The Aggies will be heading toward a fourth consecutive bowl under Sumlin, but they won’t be in the mix for the College Football Playoff.
Texas A&M raced off to a 5-0 start, which had the team garnering national attention for good reason. But it hit a wall against superior SEC competition in ‘Bama and Ole Miss and eventually LSU in the regular-season finale.
It was a positive season for A&M and its young nucleus, though, one that should have the folks optimistic about the future in College Station, Texas. Here’s a look back at the individuals who contributed to the Aggies’ continued success in 2015:
Team MVP: WR Christian Kirk
The electric wide receiver set a Texas A&M freshman record for all-purpose yards with 1,659, which ranks fifth in school history.
Kirk turned in a team-leading 925 receiving yards and six touchdowns, and was named a semifinalist for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award.
Defensive MVP: DE Myles Garrett
One of the premier pass rushers and most disruptive forces in college football, Garrett finished his sophomore campaign with 11.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss, both of which were tops on the team.
A finalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award, Garrett also finished with a team-leading five forced fumbles, one shy of the all-time mark at Texas A&M.
Best Freshman: QB Kyler Murray
While Kirk most certainly fits this category after setting numerous Texas A&M freshman records, quarterback Kyler Murray is a solid second.
Murray, who earned his first collegiate start on Halloween against South Carolina, also found his way into the Aggies record book. He totaled 379 yards of offense, becoming the first quarterback in school history to pass for 200-plus yards and rush for 100-plus in his starting debut.
Two weeks later against Western Carolina, Murray became the fourth A&M freshman to throw three touchdown passes in a game.
Biggest Surprise: DE Daeshon Hall
After mustering six tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2014, Hall about doubled his production in both of those areas, recording 12.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks this season.
Against Arizona State, Hall tied a Texas A&M record for the second-most sacks in a single game with four.
Hall and defensive linemate Garrett have combined for 17.5 sacks, the most of any tandem in the SEC.
Best Play: Garrett’s forced fumble against Mississippi State
Garrett remains one forced fumble shy of matching the A&M record, but of the five he has already notched, one stands out above the rest.
With the Aggies clinging to a 27-10 third-quarter lead against Mississippi State, the Bulldogs were driving at the Texas A&M 11. On first-and-10, Mississippi State running back Aeris Williams took a pitch from Dak Prescott around the left side before Garrett flaunted his sub-4.45 speed to force a fumble, which was recovered by A&M.
Texas A&M eventually secured a 30-17 win thanks to Garrett’s red-zone takeaway.
Overall Grade: C+
Texas A&M had another strong year in its fourth season under Sumlin. However, after a promising 5-0 start, the Aggies seemingly hit a wall after the Alabama loss and were unable to rebound the rest of the way.
Texas A&M is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. Kirk, Garrett and Hall are just some of the standouts up and down this roster. This team needs to figure out its quarterback situation — whether it’s Kyle Allen or Murray — and move forward.
Next year, the Aggies need to earn a signature SEC victory if they’re going to compete for not only SEC championships, but national championships as well.