Next In Line: Replacing Mike Evans
Mike Evans might just be the next big rookie wide receiver to hit the NFL. The only question now is who will be the next big receiving threat for his alma mater, the Texas A&M Aggies? In this week's Next In Line we discuss the top three options, which as a trio will try to at least replicate the statistics Evans produced on the field for the Aggies last season.
The first man off the short list might just be the most intriguing player of the bunch, Ricky Seals-Jones. He's almost identical to Evans in terms of size (6-foot-5, 225 pounds), but production still remains to be seen. With only a limited amount of playing time last season, highlighted by a 71-yard touchdown catch that led to a season-ending knee injury in last year's home opener, we do not have much to analyze Seal-Jones’ game. But based on his previous credentials as a highly-touted high school receiving prospect and his size advantage, I can't see why Kevin Sumlin doesn't replace one big 6-foot-5 receiver with another one. The other long-term advantage Sumlin has with Seals-Jones is that he is only a redshirt freshman, and still has some potentially productive years ahead of him if he can put it all together.
Next up is Speedy Noil, the best high school receiving prospect in the 2014 class. Noil was linked originally to LSU, but opted for a chance to play in the Aggies spread offense instead. Noil is definitely not the prototype receiver for the Aggies in recent history. Evans was the offense’s workhorse in terms of receiving production, but former options like graduating wide receiver Travis Labhart (5-foot-9) have found productive roles in the Aggies offense as well. Noil is obviously a touted player, which means he’ll probably get an opportunity to contribute from day one and help fill the void left by Evans.
Finally there is returning sophomore LaQuvionte Gonzalez. He has the same build as Noil, which leads me to believe that these two should compete for a similar role on this team. They both have ideal sizes for a slot receiver type, and with a combination of both speed and agility, it should make for an interesting divide on how head coach Kevin Sumlin uses both of these players in his game plan. Gonzalez himself appeared in 10 games last season, contributing on a limited basis by finishing with 18 catches for 222 yards and one touchdown.
Mike Evans looks to be a Top 15 pick in this year’s NFL draft and might make some team happy if given the right opportunity. On the flip side, Texas A&M has multiple opportunities for new and returning players alike to step up and make up for the absence of Evans' stellar production from 2013.