The college football world was fortunate to enjoy Johnny Manziel for as long as it could.
Two years flew by and now the quarterback – who helped Texas A&M gain immediate respect from the SEC, beat a dominant Alabama team when no one else could, escaped the claws of the NCAA, and took party photos that the Internet will never get enough of – is in the NFL.
Fun, games and Heisman trophies aside, as the Aggies begin life without Johnny Football in 2014, they also have to figure out who will replace several other key players that have moved onto the NFL.
Everyone who made Texas A&M great in 2013 is gone
Offensive tackle Jake Matthews was a force on the line and the No. 6 pick of the draft, wide receiver Mike Evans was Manziel's favorite target, and running back Ben Malena was the team's second best rusher behind Manziel.
These guys were reasons why the Aggies had the best offense in the SEC. And now they're gone. Yet Texas A&M is still ranked No. 20 in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll. Seems a little generous.
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A&M was going to have to move on without Manziel eventually. His two potential replacements this year are dual threat sophomore Kenny Hill, who had limited playing time last year, and incoming freshman Kyle Allen, a five-star pro-style prospect who was the nation's top quarterback in the 2014 class. Sumlin has yet to announce a starter.
"Our focus in the offseason has been with our offense just to talk to them about, No. 1, it's incumbent on the other 10 guys who are on the field to make the offensive quarterback friendly," Sumlin said at SEC media days earlier this summer. "Our guys understand that because whoever that is, is going to be young guy going into a very hostile situation in Columbia (S.C.) the first game of the year on the SEC Network."
Out wide, the Aggies have a nice young crop of receivers led by senior Malcome Kennedy, and up front, fourth-year starter Cedric Ogbuehi will move from right tackle to left tackle to replace Matthews. He could become the third consecutive Texas A&M offensive lineman drafted in the first round.
The defense is still bad
Defensively, the Aggies return seven starters from a defense that finished last in the SEC last season, yet Sumlin has found depth.
"Defensively, I think we will have, believe it or not, more depth in our front seven, particularly in our front four," he said. "We ended the year rotating five D-linemen out of the four spots. That took its tool. As anybody will tell you in this league, it's a line of scrimmage league."
We shall see.
If this team were still in the Big 12, would it have gotten that No. 20 ranking? In 2012, granted Texas A&M was coming off a 7-6 season in the Big 12 and was beginning its first year in the SEC with a then-unknown quarterback (Manziel), was unranked in the preseason coaches poll.
The Aggies have a rough schedule playing almost all of its difficult games (South Carolina, Alabama, Auburn) on the road, and end the regular season with LSU at home on Thanksgiving night.
Sure there are some friendly non-conference opponents sprinkled throughout, but this team isn't last year's, so it might not end up better than it's starting.