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August 3, 2009

Storylines: Finding a WR next to Fuller

With August training camp opening in less than a week at Texas A&M, the Aggies have plenty of questions with just little over a month until opening night at Kyle Field. Over the next week, we at AggieYell.com will take a peek at the top storylines in Aggieland facing the team in camp.

Last season, the Aggies found two freshmen wide receivers in true freshman Jeff Fuller and redshirt freshman Ryan Tannehill that turned into an increasingly bright spot on an otherwise forgettable season in College Station. After an amazing spring, Fuller figures to be the top receiver at A&M and one of the best in the Big 12 conference as a sophomore. Tannehill, however, is much more questionable after a spring in which he didn't participate in contact drills because of surgery on his throwing shoulder.

And even then head coach Mike Sherman was hesitant on saying that Tannehill will be back as an every down receiver in 2009 as he figures to be quarterback Jerrod Johnson's primary backup under center. That leaves the Aggies trying to find another receiver or two that can take pressure off Fuller.

The obvious answer is junior Terrence McCoy who ended the spring atop the depth chart opposite Fuller. McCoy definitely has the size at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds to be a major threat out wide, but there are questions about his speed and sometimes hands. McCoy got the top spot at the end of the spring partly for his play, but also because no one else seemed to want to take the job from him such as sophomore Nick Trice and senior Howard Morrow.

That, however, will change in August with a number of incoming freshmen poised to make names for themselves in camp. Already during the offseason, freshmen such as Kenric McNeal, Brandal Jackson and Uzoma Nwachukwu have become the buzz of 7-on-7 workouts. Jackson is said to be able to out-jump anyone while Nwachukwu brings loads of speed to the position. McNeal, however, has been the best all-around receiver in the offseason which comes as bit of a surprise.

But playing in pads is going to be much different than touch football without pads, and this August these freshmen will start paying their dues. Despite being newcomers to college football, however, these freshmen are sure to make an instant impact in camp. If they aren't on the field on opening night Sept. 5, then it's because others responded to the challenges that the freshmen are sure to bring in camp.

Jackson, McNeal and Nwachukwu aren't the only freshmen that are poised to make waves at the position, though. Former Austin Westlake athlete Ryan Swope is much like Nwachukwu when it comes to speed, and the 6-foot, 195-pound speedster could make an immediate impact as a slot receiver.

But he'll have to fend off Morrow and former cornerback Lionel Smith who wowed observers in the spring after making the move to the other side of the ball two weeks into drills. Smith, however, made just as many mistakes as he did plays, but with an entire offseason under his belt it'll be interesting to see how he has improved in August.

Morrow, meanwhile, has yet to accomplish much after heading to A&M as a Rivals.com four-star receiver, No. 23 in the nation at the position. The 2009 season will be his last chance to blossom into the receiver that fans and he himself thought he would be in an Aggie uniform.

Even though the Aggies are still looking for an every down receiver next to Fuller, A&M figures to have plenty of competition with the influx of new talent at the position. And then again, maybe Sherman will throw a curveball and pitch Tannehill back into the mix.

It already worked for him last year.

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