There wasn't much to take from Texas A&M's first spring practice of 2013. We were able to watch about 20 minutes, and the players weren't in pads. However, one thing that stood out was the feeling when walking inside the McFerrin Indoor Center. There was definitely a different mojo going on, once Drake's "Started from the bottom" began blaring from the loudspeakers. Let's just call it a cockier optimism.
This, with the Heisman Trophy winner slinging slants and the one of the country's most popular coaches critiquing from midfield, was big-time college football; the type of football A&M has been yearning for since the golden years in the late 80s and early 90s.
There's no confusion going on. There were NFL first rounders all around. And there were heralded recruits lined up on the sidelines, watching as one of the country's best, most hyped teams began its run to what they hope will be the program's second national championship.
Football is back. And the excitement, the success, the optimism is evident when you step on the field and see those maroon helmets popping.
Here are some more thoughts from the weekend:
-I've watched the Johnny Manziel interview with Kirk Herbstreit and, as many have speculated, it sure does sound like this is his final season in Aggieland. But is anyone really surprised? And would anyone have a problem with the kid bolting? Think about it for a second. He's not leaving if he has a lackluster 2013. So, if he has another exceptional season — even if he doesn't win a Heisman or national championship — Manziel would have started about 26 games at A&M. He would have become the first freshman to hoist the Heisman, would have given fans some of the most memorable football moments of their lives, would have been huge in ushering A&M into the SEC and would have been a key catalyst in helping Kevin Sumlin build this program into a sustained winner.
If you ask me, I say good riddance, Johnny. It's been a blast to cover you.
-After looking at the spring depth chart, let's just put it this way: If Drew Kaser is having a great season, then A&M is in big trouble. With the lack of depth and experience in the front seven, this Aggies' defense is going to struggle in, at least, the early portion of 2013. Having Kirby Ennis, Julien Obioha and Steven Jenkins healthy and in the lineup in the fall is gigantic. Because, if they're not there, A&M has an entirely brand new front seven. That's not a recipe for success in the SEC.
-JaQuay Williams and Ed Pope definitely look the part at wide receiver. This offense is going to be scary good.
-Sophomore defensive tackle Alonzo Williams is up to more than 280 pounds — from 260 during his freshman season. This is a big development for A&M. Williams got some important playing time during the latter portion of the 2012 season, even getting the start in the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma. The more capable bodies up front, the better.
-Interesting statistic (which could be taken as bad for 2013 but good for the future): A&M has just four seniors set to start.