By Ryan Plugge | Texas A&M University
In 2012 the Aggies moved from the Big 12 conference to the SEC. It was a move that cut many ties in the state of Texas in order to join into one of the most dominating and decorated conferences. The Aggies believed they fit right in with the rest of the SEC: Being a true southern school, great fans, many traditions, and a brand new Kyle Field.
Speaking of traditions, one of the most well-known traditions around the country and one of the schools favorite traditions is The 12th Man. The 12th Man tradition started in 1922 when the Aggies were playing a football game against one of the nation’s top teams. Throughout the game many of the Aggie players were getting worn out and hurt. They started to run low on reserves for the game so the coach at the time, Coach Bible, remembered a young man who was working in the press box. His name was E. King Gill and he was a former football player. He was called on from the press box to suit up and to be ready for the rest of the game. The Aggies ended up winning the game but what lived on forever was the fact that E. King Gill was willing to stand up and be ready at all times for his team. Gill actually never entered the game but he was the last reserve the Aggies ended up having. Since then at every Texas A&M football game, 35,000+ students stand the entire game and are ready to suit up for their team in case they are called on. Today, there is always a player who wears number 12 and is usually a walk-on student who best represents the 12th Man Tradition.
Quarterback: The best QB in Texas A&M history is without a doubt Johnny Manziel. Despite everything that has happened with him off the field, he was one of the most explosive and exciting college football players of all time. He won the Heisman his freshman year and the Aggies first year in the SEC. He played only two years in college but threw for 7,820 yards with 63 TDs and rushed for 2,169 yards and 30 more TD’s. He will go down as one of the best college football players of all time.
Running Back: The best overall RB in Texas A&M history is John David Crow, he was Texas A&M’s first Heisman winner in 1957 when he rushed for 562 yards with 6 touchdowns and throwing for 5 touchdowns. He also played defense where he tallied 5 interceptions. He did all this while only playing in 7 games. He also is the only player to win a Heisman that was coached by Bear Bryant.
Wide Receiver: This one is difficult, especially with the amount of great receivers the Aggies have had over the past 15 years. With names like Terrence Murphy, Robert Ferguson, Jeff Fuller, Ryan Swope and Mike Evans its hard to decide who has been the best. I am going to have to go with Mike Evans because he was physically stronger and more powerful than everyone he played against. He was such a dominate force in the SEC. He and Johnny Manziel lit up the SEC for the two years they played together. Evans totaled 151 catches and 2499 yards with 17 touchdowns in his only two years at Aggieland.
Offensive Lineman: Having an offensive lineman selected in the 1st round of the NFL draft for 4 consecutive years, Texas A&M is becoming OLU (Offensive Lineman University). The best of these in my opinion is Luke Joeckel. He was a consensus All-American in 2012 while protecting the Heisman winner and also won the John Outland Trophy in 2012, which is given to the best Interior Lineman in the country.
Defensive Lineman: Von Miller is Texas A&M’s best defensive lineman and maybe defensive player of all time. He played from 2007-2010 and accumulated 33 sacks and 50.5 tackles for loss and forcing 7 fumbles. He absolutely took over the Big 12 his last two years on campus where he gathered 27.5 of his sacks and his only career INT. In 2010 he won the Dick Butkus Award and was voted as a Consensus All-American.
Linebacker: Also a no brainer, Dat Nguyen is the Aggies best linebacker. Playing from 1995-1998 he was a part of the Aggies Big 12 Championship in 1998 and in the championship game he had an interception and 17 total tackles. He ended his career with an outstanding total of 517 tackles which leads Aggie history. He piled up the awards his senior year in 1998 winning the Big 12 Defensive POY, the Chuck Bednarik Award (Defensive Player of the Year), Vince Lombardi Award and was voted as a Consensus All-American.
Defensive Back: We needed at least one player on here from the Texas A&M Defense known as the “Wrecking Crew”. Kevin Smith played at Texas A&M in the early 90’s and was a part of some of the Aggies best defenses. He ended his career with 20 interceptions and in 1991 was a Consensus All-American defensive back. He was also a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 1991 as the Nation best defensive back.
Worst Loss in Texas A&M History: Sadly no one likes losing, but the Aggies have had some bad ones in their history. You know t’s bad when a 59-0 loss to Alabama in 2014 is not even the worst one. After upsetting number 1 Oklahoma in 2002, OU had something to settle with A&M in 2003. OU beat A&M 77-0 in Norman, Oklahoma. This was such an embarrassing beat down for the University that it still hurts when people bring it up today.
Best Win in Texas A&M History: 2012 ended up being a special season in Texas A&M history…First season in SEC, Heisman Winner, Cotton Bowl Victory, and a road victory against the devil himself, Nick Saban, and his Alabama team. This was a game where no one thought they would win and proved to be the Heisman moment for Johnny Manziel. Winning the game 29-24, the Aggies beat the undefeated Tide on their home turf, which was a big step in launching the football program forward.
Most Impactful Coach: When you have had coaches with names such as Paul “Bear” Bryant, Gene Stallings, and Jackie Sherrill it’s hard to be recognized as the most impactful coach for Texas A&M. R.C. Slocum might be that coach, though. He coached the Aggies from 1989-2002 and won 123 games as the head coach. He coached the Aggies through many of their best wins and some of their biggest tragedies as a University. He was the head coach for the 1999 Bonfire game against the University of Texas. The Aggies had a tradition that went back 90 years of having a huge bonfire the night before the “TU” Thanksgiving game every year. In 1999 the wood tower collapsed and it killed 12 students. Slocum and his players knew how devastating this was but Slocum insisted the game go on. The Aggies did indeed play the game against TU that year and rallied together to win the emotional game. This game and moment still lives on forever in every Aggie’s heart.