SEC Country is breaking down each of Texas A&M’s position groups as the entire 2016 roster reports to College Station.
Continuing with the series, we take a look at wide receiver. With talent on the depth chart as deep as the day is long, the Aggies have wide receivers that can compete with any unit in the country. Is 2016 the year they all put it all together?
Names you need to know: Speedy Noil (junior), Christian Kirk (sophomore), Ricky Seals-Jones (junior), Josh Reynolds (senior)
On the way: Quartney Davis, Clyde Chriss, Kendrick Rogers
Analysis: The Aggies have been stacked at wide receiver since their arrival in the Southeastern Conference, and 2016 may be their best year yet. Kirk returns for his sophomore campaign one season after joining the 1,000 yard receiving club. In addition to his phenomenal kick and punt return abilities displayed throughout last season, the Arizona native caught 80 passes, including seven touchdowns.
The senior, Reynolds, narrowly missed 1,000 receiving yards last season, finishing with 907 on 51 receptions. After catching a school-record 13 touchdowns in 2014, his total dipped to just five last season due to a number of on-field factors not limited to the quarterback carousel. With a solid answer behind center and a young-but-well-coached offensive line, the 6-foot-4 wide receiver will have everything in place to finish his college career strong before pursuing the NFL Draft.
After receiving a medical redshirt in 2013, Seals-Jones has put together back-to-back solid seasons, compiling more than 1,000 total receiving yards and eight touchdowns. His route running, offensive awareness and pass-catching ability have all improved during his tenure with the Aggies, and this season could be the one where he puts it all together. Limiting drops will be crucial to his success, but the 6-foot-5 receiver out of Sealy, Texas should have no issue with winning jump balls against defenders.
Suspended for the season opener, but expected to be available going forward, is Noil. After an impressive freshman season with the Aggies in 2014, he experienced a sophomore slump that felt it had more trips to the proverbial doghouse than it did the endzone. Depending on what version of the wide receiver shows up for his junior season, Noil could be the difference in a great and seemingly unstoppable receiving corps for the Maroon and White.
Helping to fill out the rest of the depth chart, Damion Ratley is one of five Aggies to have more than 200 yards receiving last season. Edward Pope will return for his senior season, while Jeremy Tabuyo and Boone Niederhofer look to carry their strong spring game showings into 2016. On the way in the Class of 2016 are four-star wide receivers Davis and Chriss, both capable of landing early playing time, even with the stiff competition. At 6-foot-5, Rogers is the tallest non-lineman in the Aggies’ most recent signees — and if placed at receiver, could benefit in learning from guys like Seals-Jones and Reynolds.
Key questions: The talent is on the roster, but who steps up for the Aggies at wide receiver this season? Will Kirk enjoy Reynolds-like consistency, or suffer a Noil-esque sophomore slump? Will Seals-Jones, a redshirt junior, make it his last in an A&M uniform?
Bottom line: Even if a big name or two falters, there’s plenty of talent on the depth chart to keep A&M strong at receiver. Secondaries will be kept busy next season, particularly if the Aggies’ new-look offense allows for more downfield passing.
Other positions in series: