College Football fans are a completely different breed than any other sport. The student section is unique part of the game. One of the most passionate student sections in college football belongs to the Texas A&M Aggies. The Aggies student section is known as the 12th Man. Since the team can only field 11 players, they view the student section as the 12th player because of the atmosphere they help to create at Kyle Field. The Aggies consistently have more than 30,000 students at home games which is why they are one of the loudest stadiums in the country. One of our final posts in 99 Things is about Texas A&M this season and the 12th man.
The original story of the 12th Man dates back to 1922. The Aggies were facing Centre College who was one of the best teams in the country at the time. An Aggie by the name of E. King Gill was up in the press box to help reporters identify the players on the field. The Aggies suffered numerous injuries during the game which resulted in head coach Dana X summoning King to the sidelines. King changed into uniform under the bleachers and put on the jersey of an injured player. The Aggies would pull off the upset and defeat Center College 22-14. Gill’s willingness to serve his team in any capacity needed has been one of the symbols behind the 12th Man.
Texas A&M is looking to continue the upward trajectory in the SEC. Jimbo Fisher has recruited incredibly well but now he needs to prove the results on the field. The Aggies have a competition at quarterback but all signs point to Haynes King winning the job. King only played in two games last season after Zach Calzada started most of the season. Calzada has since transferred to Auburn. Max Johnson transferred in from LSU but will likely begin the season as the backup quarterback. Five star prospect Connor Weigman is also a wildcard to play this season.
Whoever starts at quarterback will have a reliable wide receiver in Ainias Smith. Smith has totaled 112 receptions, 1,321 yards and 15 touchdowns for his three year career. He will likely be the favorite target for the Aggies once again. Texas A&M has talented but unproven weapons at wide receiver. Evan Stewart is a former five star but will only be a true freshman this fall. The Aggies running back will be Devon Achane. He was the second running back behind Isaiah Spiller but still received a large amount of playing time. Achane finished last season with 910 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
The best player on the defense is defensive back Antonio Johnson. Johnson received All-SEC and All-American honors for this play last season. Johnson finished second on the team in tackles with 79. He also registered 8.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, one interception and five passes defended. The defensive line will have the potential to be one of the best over the next three seasons. The Aggies signed seven defensive linemen who ranked in the top 100 prospects. Walter Nolan and Shemar Stewart were top 10 prospects who have a chance at making an immediate impact on the defense. Both Nolan and Stewart already possess ideal size to play at the college level.
Texas A&M’s non-conference schedule is highlighted by a visit from Miami (FL) in week three. Tyler Van Dyke leads the Hurricanes and will be the first competition for the Aggies this season. Appalachian State, UMass and Sam Houston State will also visit College Station to play Texas A&M. The SEC schedule features visits from LSU, Florida and Ole Miss. The Aggies will go on the road to play Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Auburn. Texas A&M will play Arkansas in Arlington at Cowboy Stadium. The Aggies will enter the season with expectations of competing for the SEC this fall. In order for them to have any chance they will need full support of the 12th Man.