FS Jaxson Appel

2002 Statistics

Coach: Dennis Franchione
1st year
2002 Record: 6-6
at Pittsburgh WON 14-12
at Baylor WON 41-0
at Kansas WON 47-22
at Oklahoma State LOST 23-28
at Texas LOST 20-50

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

The Aggies' 2002 results showed improvements in their biggest area of pre-season concern - offensive potency. Surprisingly, the Wrecking Crew defense was average, even with the amount of returning starters. Now, in order to be competitive, it is rather ironic the Aggies have to return to defensive (line) dominance while maintaining and improving on their offensive strides. New Head Coach Dennis Franchione's disciplined style, and his past defense's success, should have an immediate impact to this regard. But with new LBs, this is easier outlined than achieved.

Offensively, the coaching staff has to decide who will start at QB. Look for McNeal's consistency to come out as the coach's choice. His dual pass-run threat will keep defenses off balance. This would be news, removing Long from his starting position, but Long makes too many hurtful decisions, and memories of McNeal leading A&M to victory over the top ranked team is the proverbial cake's icing. This flash of brilliance is a sign of things to come at Texas A&M.

With the new coaching staff starting a fresh era of A&M football, the fans will dons shades looking at such a bright future. Look for Franchione to shape the Aggies into a powerful running team. McNeal's unpredictable ways at QB (mixing his running with Farmer's) should confuse defenses. The new offensive scheme will work, with passes easily completed if the run-game evolves. The team should be improved, dotting the Top 25 at random times. The schedule will be tough, with road games against Virginia Tech, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Crucial home games, including a non-conference rivalry match with up-and-coming Pittsburgh, and against in-state nemesis Texas, are winnable. With a return to top form by the defense, the Aggies should compete for an upper spot in the Big XII South.

Projected 2003 record: 6-6
WR Jamaar Taylor
FS Jaxson Appel
RB Courtney Lewis
QB - 3.5 DL - 4
RB - 3 LB - 3.5
WR - 4 DB - 3.5
OL - 4 ..

Passing: Dustin Long, 333-177-16, 2509 yds., 19 TD's

Rushing: Derek Farmer, 172 att., 739 yds., 7 TD's

Receiving: Jamaar Taylor, 44 rec., 760 yds., 3 TD's

Scoring: Todd Pegram, 12-21 FG, 32-33 PAT, 68 pts.

Punting: Cody Scates, 67 punts, 43.7 avg.

Kicking: Todd Pegram, 12-21 FG, 32-33 PAT, 68 pts.

Tackles: Jaxson Appel, 73 tot., 45 solo

Sacks: Jaxson Appel, 4 sacks; Byron Jones, 4 sacks

Interceptions: Byron Jones, 4 for 117 yds.

Kickoff returns: Terrence Thomas, 12 ret., 21.0 avg.

Punt returns: Byron Jones, 8 ret., 6.4 avg.


QB Reggie McNeal
OFFENSE: Mark Farris-QB, Joe Weber-RB, Bethel Johnson-WR, Greg Porter-TE, Billy Yates-OG, Taylor Whitley-OG
DEFENSE: Ty Warren-DE, Jesse Hunnicutt-OLB, Brian Gamble-ILB, Jarrod Penright-OLB, Sammy Davis-CB, Terrence Kiel-SS

written by Jeff Davis

The Aggies made great strides in their 2002 offensive production. A&M was the second most potent passing team in the Big XII. Although they will miss the services of Bethel Johnson, Jamaar Taylor is back for his senior campaign after he missed two games due to injury. Taylor's speed and his ability to get open will make him the go to receiver. Breaking the 1,000 yard mark is no stretch here. Junior Terrence Murphy is remembered most for his breakout game as they upset Oklahoma. Both receivers are big playmakers. When thrown to, they make the catch, especially in clutch situations, and usually turn it into long gains.

At the tight end position, junior Thomas Carriger will have some competition from the 2002 recruiting class. Carriger has been a good blocker, but needs to work on his catching. The TE position had been productive, but will now be a question mark with the graduation of Greg Porter. TE will be key to opening up run and pass, so until established, this is a concern.

Also remembered from the Oklahoma game are sophomore QB Reggie McNeal and his four-TD performance. He opened a lot of eyes in Aggieland, and his running ability only increases his value as a damaging passer. New Head Coach Dennis Franchione will have to evaluate McNeal versus the talent of the starter for most of 2002, junior QB Dustin Long. Long had over 2500 passing yards with an efficiency rating of 125.66. Without his game versus Texas Tech (7 TDs), his TD to INT ratio of 19-16 is a suspect 12-16. His shortcomings were apparent in many of A&M's close 2002 loses - late game INTs cost against Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and Missouri. If Long does hold the job, he will have had to beat out McNeal to get it. This should be a strength regardless - McNeal off the bench cannot hurt.

Texas A&M is usually known for a strong running game. This is an area of concern for the Aggies - they were only 10th in the Big XII (92nd in I-A) in rushing offense. Compounding this problem, Texas A&M has to fill a fullback void with inexperienced converted-halfback junior Keith Joseph. He may not be starting material. Derek Farmer potentially has some answers. The junior RB's first two seasons have been productive and improving, but he hasn't had that break out season, yet. While he missed two 2002 games with a knee injury, Farmer plans to be the team's work-horse and easily break 1,000 yards. Farmer has deceiving moves and can hit holes quickly, yet is still powerful. Many viewers have anticipated the arrival of freshman Courtney Lewis, so he will certainly add quality depth to the tailback department...maybe even a starting role. The OL holds many answers, too.

The strength of the line is in two talented juniors. Jami Hightower, a big tackle who possesses both power and quickness, should earn all-conference honors. Geoff Hangartner's strength and footwork are helping him develop into another great Aggie center. Returning starter senior Alan Rueber at tackle will add some leadership to the group. The guards on the offensive line are new to their starting roles, and there is a question as to whether they can provide the needed push up the middle. Sophomore guard Quentin Holman, though, weighing in at around 330 pounds, should help with that push. Senior Andre Brooks is versatile with playing time at the guard and tackle positions, but is still a bit slow after knee 2002 mid-season knee surgery. The line allowed 29 sacks while only averaging 3.4 yards-per-carry. This group has the talent, but lacks the experience as a cohesive unit. This can mean positive results, but in the beefy-Big XII with teams like Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas, it can also equal trouble. This is a work in progress to be discernable only once the 2003 season kicks.


WR Jamaar Taylor


Returning Starters in bold
QB Dustin Long-Jr (6-3, 205) Reggie McNeal-So (6-2, 191)
FB Keith Joseph-Jr (6-2, 241) Thomas Perry-Sr (6-1, 234)
TB Derek Farmer-Jr (5-11, 202) Courtney Lewis-Fr (5-10, 187)
WR Jamaar Taylor-Sr (6-1, 194) Tim Van Zant-Sr / Terrence Thomas-Jr
WR Terrence Murphy-Jr (6-1, 191) Jason Carter-Jr (A-back) (6-0, 197)
TE Thomas Carriger-Jr (6-4, 265) Ryan White-So (6-4, 239)
OT Jami Hightower-Jr (6-4, 327) Dominique Steamer-So (6-4, 313)
OG John Kirk-Sr (6-4, 295) Andre Brooks-Sr (6-4, 304)
C Geoff Hangartner-Jr (6-5, 300) James Milkavich-Sr (6-2, 274)
OG Aldo De La Garza-So (6-3, 317) Quentin Holman-So (6-1, 327)
OT Alan Reuber-Sr (6-7, 310) Alex Kotzur-Fr (6-4, 284)
K Todd Pegram-So (5-11, 190) Layne Neumann-Fr (5-11, 171)



written by Jeff Davis

Like all the main coaching positions at Texas A&M, defensive coordinator Torbush is new to the Aggies. Under his regime at Alabama, he ran a 4-3 defense that ranked 3rd in the nation. This would be a change from the Aggie traditional 3-4 defenses. This alignment puts more of a premium on linemen and will come at a good time for the Aggies with the graduation of so many linebackers.

The line should be an overall strength for the Wrecking Crew. They are led by several returning starters. Jasmin is a powerful but agile tackle, and Smith is a quick end who makes plays bounce outside or be considered losses. Two other linemen have real-game experience, and they will try to replace Ty Warren. Sophomores David Ross and Johnny Jolly have a keen nose for the ball. They will have plenty of depth - senior walk-on Nick Losada and many young and highly touted 2002 signees hungrily wait.

The depth in the secondary makes us believe it will be a strength, but probably not until season's end. But individual talent is different than playing well as a team. Returning as starters should be senior corner Sean Weston, a man-coverage specialist to be a leader of the team, and sophomore FS Jaxson Appel, the leading returning tackler. Appel has great awareness as he also tied for the most interceptions on the team. Jones has an excellent break on the ball. Either juniors Keelan Jackson, who really grew with quality playing time, or Eric Crutchfield, who has been M.I.A. for some time, could fill the strong safety position. The concern(s) of who will play where are up to the new coaching staff. Other possible contributors are Dawon Gentry, who was the projected starter as 2002's FS, or young corners Ronald Jones and Bryant Singleton. Depth is a strength, but, like the LBs, the unit's cohesion presents concerns until game-proven. The Aggies took a step back - the biggest drop off occurred in the pass defense area. This needs to be addressed for the Wrecking Crew to return to dominance These guys will top 2002's 51st ranking in pass defense, but not by much. Stopping the big play will be a more-important measuring stick.

The linebacking corps has to replace three starters, with senior MLB Jared Morris the only returner. Known for his run-stopping ability, the athletic Morris will have to take a leadership role. Senior Everett Smith and junior Randall Webb will be defensive keys with their potential and athleticism. These linebackers have logged some playing time, which will help the entire squad's maturation process move more quickly. Like past crews, although quick, these LBs are a bit small, especially as a group. This group is the key to this defense going up a step, or not. Large, powerful opposing fronts, though, will make 60 minutes seem like forever.


P Cody Scates


Returning Starters in bold
DE David Ross-So (6-2, 270) Mike Montgomery-Jr
DT Johnny Jolly-So (6-3, 287) Donny Stringer-So (6-5, 288)
DT Brian Patrick-So (6-5, 293) Marcus Jasmin-Jr (6-5, 318)
DE Linnis Smith-Sr (6-4, 288) Lawrence Hooper-So (6-4, 281)
SLB Archie McDaniel-So (6-1, 227) Blake Kendrick-Jr (6-1, 217)
MLB Jared Morris-Sr (6-3, 256) Scott Stickane-Sr (6-0, 234)
ROV Nurahda Manning-So (6-2, 230) Randall Webb-Jr (6-3, 224)
CB Sean Weston-Sr (5-10, 180) Ronald Jones-So (5-10, 179)
CB Byron Jones-Jr (5-10, 178) Bryant Singleton-So (5-11, 187)
SS Keelan Jackson-Jr (6-1, 219) Anthony Squillante-Jr (6-0, 207)
FS Jaxson Appel-So (5-10, 196) Kevin Mangum-Jr (5-11, 191)
P Cody Scates-Sr (6-1, 201) Jacob Young-Jr (6-0, 196)




The one bright spot for Texas A&M's special teams is punter Cody Scates. Finishing 7th in Division I-A in 2002, Scates should be among the top five - three of the leaders above him have graduated. Scates averaged 43.75 yards and pinned 22 punts inside the 20. Initially troubling is the Aggie's return coverage. There has to be improvement in allowing 13.2 yards-per-return, which negates any quality punts. The Aggies have no known threats on returns. We will fill this blank in as it avails itself. Sophomore kicker Todd Pegram shared his growing pains in going 12-for-21. His lack of consistency really cost the Aggies. What's more troubling is his seeming lack of power. Any (or all) of these special team's areas will wind up costing A&M a few games.


The haymaker this spring was A-back Jason Carter. Carter made the switch from QB and has shown to be a great weapon for the A&M offense. He was utilized as a receiver, a runner, and a KR/PR threat. Proving that he fits very well in this new offense, Carter will be a valued playmaker this season. Fellow WR Tim Van Zant saw a lot of action and will rotate at the #2 receiver position. Keep an eye for incoming frosh WR Earvin Taylor to make some noise this fall… RB Courtney Lewis has been impressive, as he had 102 yards on 12 carries in the spring game. He may have been the most impressive player all spring and will continue to give Derek Farmer a threatening push for the top spot this fall. Perhaps the biggest question this spring was that of the QB position. Reggie McNeal has been the better of the two, and in my opinion, will oust Dustin Long as the #1 guy. McNeal's combination of versatility and arm strength seem too good for Franchione to keep in check. Look for Reggie to have a solid season, leaving Long as a counted backup.

Junior DL Brandon Johnson has been declared academically ineligible this season. Depth at linebacker also took a hit when Randall Webb was suspended indefinitely due to a violation of team policy. With his absence, we should see the insertion of true frosh LB Justin Warren. He is a Parade AA with great agility, surprising speed, and outstanding work ethic. He will be a great addition to the solid tradition of stellar A&M LBs. Another recruit who should play instantly is JUCO transfer DE Mike Montgomery. He is a big, imposing defensive end who can provide speed to the Aggie pass rush… FS Jaxson Appel may be one of the more under appreciated defensive players in the conference. He is reliable, quick, and can lay a nasty lick. He and the entire secondary have proven to Franchione and DC Carl Torbush that they can play. They'll have to until the shuffled D-line and LB corps settle in.

Jason Carter had a tremendous spring returning both kicks and punts, averaging 36 yards on KRs and 11 yards on PRs. Such success is a huge relief to the Aggie special teams, who sorely lacked a deep return threat last season.