RB Courtney Lewis

2005 Statistics

Coach: Dennis Franchione
16-19, 3 years
2005 Record: 5-6
at Clemson LOST 24-25
SMU WON 66-8
at Colorado LOST 20-41
at Kansas State WON 30-28
at Texas Tech LOST 17-56
at Oklahoma LOST 30-36

2005 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2006 Outlook

Texas A&M’s “12th man”, like any other fanatical group who adamantly loves to trumpet its annual potential, hate the term “rebuilding”. But that's exactly what has been going on seemingly for the past few seasons. As the Aggies struggle to build a team capable of competing at the top of the Big XII again, it looks as if they are finally getting closer to that dream. Never underestimate the ability for head coach Dennis Franchione to turn a team around (remember ‘Bama?). He has the all-around talent now to really do some damage.

Despite possessing nice size all over the field, the ’05 Aggies fought injuries that caused a glaring lack of speed on defense and special teams. With strong recruiting and coaching, Texas A&M has started to develop the kind of players that can turn a game in the blink of an eye. The addition of Gary Darnell as defensive coordinator will also make team results better, guaranteed. His 4-2-5 alignment can make up for the lack of DB strength and the inexperienced youth surge here.

The future looks to be steadier with QB Stephen McGee at the helm. He has to do what Reggie McNeal couldn’t – manage the game instead of trying to win it single-handedly – and if he can do this, offensive consistency will appear, especially with so much potential at the talent positions. Courtney Lewis is a big-time running back who just needs to stay healthy, and their WR corps is too stacked not to produce, especially in A&M’s creative multiple-receiver sets. Defensively, their keys to recovery are a consistent edge pass rush and the ability to keep pass plays in front of them to avoid the big plays that toasted them in ‘05. The talent at LB should tie together any marginal/weak areas.

It is highly probable that these things can all happen, so the move back to the level(s) of Oklahoma and Texas will continue. Least of all, the Aggies will be much more competitive week-in and week-out. This team isn't quite good enough to get to the Big XII title game just yet in such a tough conference half, but the heads of the College Station faithful will be held much higher by December, and a decent bowl game (only one bowl appearance in past four campaigns) will then loom.

Projected 2006 record: 7-5
QB - 3 DL - 4
RB - 4 LB - 3.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 2.5
OL - 4.5 ..

Passing: Stephen McGee, 53-24-1, 283 yds., 2 TD

Rushing: Courtney Lewis, 109 att., 723 yds., 7 TD

Receiving: Chad Schroeder, 20 rec., 335 yds., 5 TD

Scoring: Jorvorskie Lane, 9 TD, 54 pts.

Punting: Justin Brantly, 46 punts, 43.2 avg.

Kicking: Layne Neumann, 0-2 FG, 0-0 PAT, 0 pts.

Tackles: Justin Warren, 95 tot., 34 solo

Sacks: Chris Harrington, 4 sacks

Interceptions: Marquis Carpenter, 4 for 45 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Courtney Lewis, 5 ret., 20.4 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Jordan Chambless, 8 ret., 11.1 avg., 0 TD


DB Melvin Bullitt
OFFENSE: Reggie McNeal-QB, DeQawn Mobley-WR, Jason Carter-WR, Boone Stutz-TE, Dominique Steamer-OG, Jami Hightower-OG, Aldo DeLaGarza-OG, Todd Pegram-K
DEFENSE: Johnny Jolly-DT, Renuel Greene-SLB, Lee Foliaki-SLB, Archie McDaniel-ROV, Ronald Jones-CB, Jaxson Appel-FS

Senior Ty Branyon and sophomore Stephen McGee will be vying to take over the controls for the Aggies. Branyon is a big guy who can survey the field well and is especially adept at throwing stuff underneath, whereas McGee (same 6’3” size) has the potential to be a bigger playmaker and the coaches hope he seizes the spot. The Aggies feel McGee can become an elite college player with a little more experience. He played in eight games last year to start his “seasoning” and has good proven movement skills (ex-track star), but the key will be his consistency and ability to make the basic throws over and over again. The Burnet-native has had some problems with his accuracy, though he didn’t throw an INT his senior year of prep. Senior T.J. Sanders returns as the third option but the Kansas native is not regarded as anything more than an emergency option.

Running Back
Senior Courtney Lewis has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career and has been underutilized, but that should change with a less experienced signal caller at the controls. Lewis has a good size-speed ratio (4.37 seconds in the 40) and has shown the ability to wear down a defense. He is one of the strongest of all Aggie skill players, and though not used too much as a receiver, he has shown good hands and much YAC in the flat. Better yet, 265 pound sophomore Jorvorskie Lane will be bruising more bodies coming in as the third leading rusher. At 223 pounds, Brandon Leone is a big guy with amazing speed. The former-DB moved over to running back just last season and it remains to be seen if the former high school track star (10.37 second in the 100) has the vision and cutback ability to be a consistent contributor. Sophomore Samson Taylor will be pushing Leone for reps. Taylor is a more natural runner. At fullback will be the massive Chris Alexander. The 246-pound junior is a top-tier lead blocker, but the Humble-native needs more touches as he has a good feel for the lead draw play (no yards lost on his eight carries). Also keep an eye on freshman Mike Goodson. Considered the top RB recruit in Texas and No.4 nationally (Rivals.com), Goodson is an explosive, versatile player who can break one on any play. This unit is about as strong as any RB group in the conference, so 2005’s 10th-ranked rushing offense should remain a major offensive dimension.

This is a big, deep receiving corps with several homerun options. The massive Earvin Taylor returns after a broken ankle and will be looking to finally become a viable option. At 6-3 and 244 pounds, Taylor is a physical receiver who can get off the line and dominate. He also has shown the speed to run away from defenders, which is why he has played since his true freshman campaign. Junior Kerry Franks got his feet wet last season and should be the top choice at the team's H spot. Franks' strength is his blazing speed (4.38 in the 40) and therefore his ability to stretch the field, though his average per catch (six yards) will allow him to “fly” under most enemy radar until it is too late. Sophomore Pierre Brown (ex-QB) is a superlative athlete who is still adapting to the receiver position. The Duncanville-native also has big-play potential in the open field. Senior Chad Schroeder is another super-quickster who runs good routes and shows a feel for sitting down just right in zones. Schroeder had the team’s best per catch average (16.8) for those with 10+ touches and is a go-to type. No secondary can cover them all in the Aggies four-WR sets, so A&M has huge reason to put as many on the field at once as they can.

Tight End
This oft-used position (27 total touches in ’05) seems strong. The main weapon is sophomore Martellus Bennett, the nation's top TE-recruit last year. This 6-7 former prep all-American is a great athlete (also plays basketball for A&M), excellent/proven receiver, and also has the frame to develop into a dominant blocker. Junior Joey Thomas is an average blocker but a better receiver. A couple of sophomores back these guys up and are better blockers than receivers. Overall, a good unit, but with role players, Bennett has to become well-rounded so foes cannot predict the play-call via who is on the field.

Offensive Line
Four juniors with starting experience return to give this unit the cohesion needed so all dimensions can flourish. Cody Wallace will return to lead the line at center. This junior from Cuero is a smart technician who excels as a run blocker and can play any of the positions, if needed. Classmate Kirk Elder handles the quick guard spot. The 6-5, 315-pound Elder is a good athlete and pulls very well. Chris Yoder had a great freshman season at center, but since Wallace is better suited at the pivot and Yoder can move around, he will be entrenched at the guard position backing up Grant Dickey, who is more experienced as a senior. Corey Clark is a prototypical strong tackle with the wing span to keep opposing defensive ends at bay. Look for 6-foot-8 sophomore Travis Schneider to get a good look at the other tackle spot, though junior Bryan-native Yemi Babalola will probably start there after a great spring. Schneider has been steadily improving and shows the kind of desire that coaches like to reward, so he will see reps somewhere. With so much quality depth, this unit should be able to push against any quality of foe well into the fourth quarter.

This offense has rung up some decent numbers the past few years, but it has lacked consistency. With Reggie McNeal gone, a new signal caller can tone down the improvisation that often led to marginal showings/results. There's enough experience on the line to make any of their stacked dimensions work well, and though a ball control type offense may put up a few less points, such (at least to start) will definitely ring up more wins. Unlike under (raw passer) McNeal, we need to see a signal-caller who can manage the game, not force it. There is just too much potential at the talent positions to think that distributing the ball all around won’t work. With McGee’s dual-threat ability and seeing as he is the future in College Station, he should get the call and will lead this team back to where it belongs in the top 25.


OG Kirk Elder


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Stephen McGee-So (6-3, 207) Ty Branyon-Sr (6-3, 213)
FB Chris Alexander-Jr (5-11, 246) Greg Boothe-Sr (6-1, 221)
RB Courtney Lewis-Sr (6-0, 204) Jorvorskie Lane-So (5-11, 274)
WR Chad Schroeder-Sr (6-1, 181) Howard Morrow-So (6-0, 215)
WR Kerry Franks-Jr (5-10, 185) Cody Beyer-Fr (6-1, 180)
WR Earvin Taylor-Jr (6-3, 244) Pierre Brown-So (6-1, 203)
TE Martellus Bennett-So (6-7, 248) Joey Thomas-Jr (6-5, 248)
OT Yemi Babalola-So (6-4, 308) Alex Kotzur-Sr (6-5, 290)
OG Kirk Elder-Jr (6-4, 312) Michael Shumard-Fr (6-5, 299)
C Cody Wallace-Jr (6-4, 296) Kevin Matthews-Fr (6-3, 296)
OG Grant Dickey-Sr (6-5, 313) Chris Yoder-Jr (6-3, 318)
OT Corey Clark-Jr (6-6, 311) Travis Schneider-So (6-7, 298)
K Layne Neumann-Sr (6-0, 175) Richie Bean-So (6-0, 180)



Defensive Line
Expect Texas A&M to go with a three-man rotation at end. Junior Chris Harrington has turned into a nice base end. The 263-pounder is not a natural pass rusher, yet his four sacks were second-most in ’05. This all-academic (Big XII Honorable Mention 2004) Houston-native’s motor never stops and he is top-notch against the run. Junior Jason Jack is a big, rangy 275-pound end who also holds up well against any size OLmen but isn't the kind of guy who will scare you from the edge. Sophomore Cyril Obiozor is unquestionably the team's top pass rusher. The 270-pound end looks unblockable at times but isn't consistent enough, especially against the run…yet. Inside, junior Red Bryant has developed into one of the nation's best. At 330 pounds, Bryant can tie up two blockers, fight through the trash and make plays. He's quick in the middle and athletic enough to get after the quarterback. The Aggies need someone to step up next to Bryant and the guess here will be senior Bryce Reed, who is more experienced than massive sophomore William Morrisey. At nearly 360 pounds, Morrisey showed the ability to stuff the run in limited reps last season. Career reserve Marques Thornton is versatile and will back up at both end and tackle. Like most of the Aggie defensive lineman, Thornton is much better versus the run, though, than as a pass rusher. With the dearth of pass rushers on the team, expect early playing time for top recruit Cody Williams, who projects to be an excellent speed rusher.

A&M feels this will be a very good group - with two of their three starters gone, the new blood will hopefully improve this underachieving area. But they switch to a 4-2-5, so someone is SOL. Senior Justin Warren is the lone starter returning and is a good all-around player with excellent quickness and a nose for the ball. Warren is steady and rarely out of position. This Butkus Award watch-list candidate needs more spectacular plays to achieve those next needed steps. Many who expected junior Stephen Hodge to handle the other spot were surprised as juco-transfer Mark Dodge grabbed it up on spring. Dodge and Hodge are undersized, and ex-DB Hodge brings blazing speed and can slip by blockers. Both will be expected to add more of a big play element to the defense (Hodge is a proven special team’s maven). Matt Featherston adds the size needed for Big XII LBs to have impact in run stopping. Senior Nurahda Manning has fought through academic issues and injuries (hand, knee), and this Bay City-native should be line for many reps via rotation. The versatile 247-pound senior can play anywhere coaches put him, and he should be in often. Look out for RS freshmen Jodie Richardson, another king-sized backer who is a form tackler with decent speed. This year’s class is also stacked, so depth is there and just needs to be broken in. By working as a cohesive corps, this unit can overachieve and make the Aggie’s D amazing again.

Defensive Back
This area has to improve from finishing dead-last in the entire country (117th in pass defense), so hard lessons learned have to pay off, or the D will again suffer. Juniors Brock Newton and Marquis Carpenter, along with sophomore Danny Gorrer, all return starting experience to the corner spots. Newton had a big freshman season as at nickel and is a decent cover-corner with good size and the ability to support the run (solid recovery speed). Gorrer is slight but has blinding speed and is one of the keys to this defense. JUCO-transfer Carpenter is a true shutdown corner who will enable Texas A&M to employ more blitzes to help its shaky pass rush. RS frosh Jordan Peterson surged in spring practices and has seemingly displaced all of these experienced guys, but a youth trend will occur since they do not trust many returners from such a dismal showing. Junior Japhus Brown is back at field safety. A quick playmaker that excels in coverage, this former second-team freshman all-American has also become a steady tackler but is recovering still during spring from a blown knee. The leader of the secondary will have to be senior Melvin Bullitt from other safety spot. Garland-native Bullitt has been a key reserve over the last three seasons and stepped up with so many injuries last campaign to finally fulfill his potential. He can play either safety position but is better suited to strong safety because he supports the run very well. Alton Dixon and Devon Gregg both had big (true) freshman efforts and will rotate in early and often to keep the secondary’s legs fresh (Gregg’s huge spring could have him starting in front of Brown). WHIP Arkeith Brown has surged, and this former prep all-American will prove much his sophomore season in this extra position Keeping the play in front of them has to be one of those attributes for this extra-manned area so as not to give up as many big plays.

This area has marginally progressed, but there are still significant problems from last year’s 107th-ranked D. Gary Darnell has been brought in from Western Michigan (2004 MAC Head Coach of the Year) to fix things, and, along with his stint at Texas as DC from 1994-96, reflects a proven winner who will make this area formidable once again. Moving to a 4-2-5 will keep the play in front of the marginal secondary. The line is still not that fast and lacks pass rushers and upper-echelon coverage guys, though the corners are potentially strong. There's good size in the front four and some serious hitters in the back seven, but that/they all has/have to translate into better third down results than allowing foes a 48% conversion rate. The real keys are the pass rush (Obiozor) and the secondary (which has nowhere to go but up). What brings these two elements together? The LBs, and they’re good enough (Warren is a third team all-American to us) to be able to lead the Aggies out of their funk. Before injuries took them apart, this was a decent crew that just never recovered from the losses. Personal resolve and character are what have to be tapped – four hard losses to end 2005 (allowed 30+ points in each) can be overcome by individual talent pooling together so that 4+2+5 = way more than 11, like it has in the past. This conference will expose any/all weaknesses, but four easy non-con tune-ups will allow the D to get ready for a favorable Big XII slate (starts with Tech). With Oklahoma, Nebraska, and (at) Texas as the three enders, things are stacked nicely for A&M to bring their stopping efforts back to Aggie standards in time to really make this a better season.


LB Justin Warren


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Chris Harrington-Jr (6-5, 263) Jason Jack-Jr (6-4, 275)
Chris Smith-So (6-5, 270)
DT Bryce Reed-Sr (6-1, 304) Henry Smith-Jr (6-3, 318)
DT Red Bryant-Jr (6-5, 330) Marques Thornton-Sr (6-1, 288)
DE Cyril Obiozor-So (6-4, 270) Michael Bennett-So (6-4, 263)
LB Mark Dodge-Jr (6-2, 219) Stephen Hodge-Jr (6-1, 230)
LB Justin Warren-Sr (6-3, 245) Matt Featherston-Fr (6-2, 250)
WHIP Arkeith Brown-So (6-0, 175) Chevar Bryson-Fr (6-0, 186)
CB Danny Gorrer-So (6-0, 182) Marquis Carpenter-Jr (6-0, 179)
CB Jordan Peterson-Fr (5-10, 192) Brock Newton-Jr (5-11, 189)
SS Melvin Bullitt-Sr (6-1, 204) Alton Dixon-So (5-11, 207)
FS Devin Gregg-So (5-11, 195) Japhus Brown-Jr (5-11, 203)
P Justin Brantly-So (6-3, 232) Richie Bean-So (6-0, 180)




There are a couple freshman, David De La Fosse and Kyle Davis, along with kickoff specialist Layne Neumann and backup punter Richie Bean battling for the job . If ever there was a true competition, this is it. Whoever performs better this spring will get the job. Neumann certainly has the leg and has some FGAs already (missed both from outside the 40 in ’05, though he had the team’s longest – 46 yards – in ’04, but these few tries aren’t a fair gauge knowing his prep success). So, if he can show any accuracy, he's the choice. Coverage here will also improve.

Sophomore Justin Brantley was exceptional in his rookie campaign (ranked 14th with a 43.2 average per boot) and could be one of the nation's best. But this strong-legged Sealy-native has to learn not to out-kick his coverage, and, likewise, must improve directional skills so A&M doesn’t finish anywhere near their 86th-ranking in net results. Improvements in defensive (DB) depth (fewer injuries there, too) will go a long way toward achieving this goal.

Return Game
Kerry Franks and/or Courtney Lewis look to produce most of the KR efforts, but don't be surprised if Goodson gets a shot here (the Aggies are anxious to see what he can do). Carpenter has the first shot at the PR duties, but the bevy of new recruits has too many quick guys to think one cannot emerge. We will keep you posted.