Coach Sumlin and his team captains conveyed a message at SEC Media Days on Wednesday that has Teaxs A&M football fans on the edge of their seats.
The first time Coach Sumlin and his players walked through the doors of the Hyatt Regency in Hoover, Alabama back in 2012 they were met with a cloud of doubt and unbelievably low expectations. Soon after, this strange team in College Station, Texas won 11 games, had the first ever freshman quarterback win the Heisman, and took the college football world by storm in the process.
Fast forward almost six years later and Coach Sumlin and company find themselves in an eerily similar situation, hoping for some similar results.
Aggies not phased as underdogs
With a mountain-high list of uncertainty (especially in regards to who will be the
starting quarterback come week one), the national media swarmed like sharks in the water when the Aggies took the podium today. However, after watching about 45 minutes worth of Q&A’s the maroon and white managed to hold their own. In matter of fact they might’ve also turned me into an unapologetic believer.
With a litany of senior leadership, proven playmakers, and young talent, this team continues to mirror that legendary 2012 unit. Led by Coach Sumlin and senior Armani Watts, the four Texas A&M representatives let the world know how foolish they’d be to count out the underdogs this season.
You see just like in the Ag’s inaugural season in the SEC, this team has a swagger and fire about them which makes them unique. When asked about the three straight years of November slumps, they responded with confidence and the message was clear: ‘We’re a different team this year’. That was a common theme during Coach Sumlin’s time at the podium. He summed it up rather frankly:
"“Instead of trying to point fingers and do this and that, we’re not doing that…When we’re not doing well, it’s my job to analyze it and try to fix it. And so looking at where we are and being open and honest about that with our team [has been important]”."
Christian Kirk is the vocal leader of this team
Reiterating his coach’s rhetoric was one of the most elite playmakers in the country, wide receiver Christian Kirk. As the clear-cut leader of the team (and a consensus first team All-American last season), Kirk noted how “as a leader you have to set a standard for everybody, and make sure the entire team meets it day in and day out”.
It’s that type of commitment to excellence that lays the foundation for championship teams. Another noteworthy quote from the team captain came when he was asked what else he wished to accomplish in what could be his last collegiate season. His answer should give the 12th man goosebumps. According to Kirk, delivering that diamond football to Aggieland is number one on his to-do list before he ends his storied career in the maroon and white.
As the rest of the media made their way through the press conference area, it was made very clear how skeptical the rest of the nation is about this team. With headlines focusing on a head coach who is on the hot seat rather than a team hungry for success, it looks like the Aggies are coming in under the radar to start the year.
The good news though? Underdogs with low expectations? The 2012 was in the same shoes. The Sunday showdown with the UCLA Bruins is getting closer and closer Ags, and there’s only one thing left to do: win.