We’re asking 50 questions in the 50 days leading up to the 2019 Texas A&M football season: Can Baylor Cupp live up to the hype as Sternberger’s replacement?
Jimbo Fisher set the bar high in his first season as head coach of Texas A&M football. They went 9-4, improved dramatically on both sides of the ball, had a winning record in November, beat LSU for the first time, finished second in the division for the first time, and ended a three-year bowl losing streak.
These feats are all below the measure of success for Fisher’s tenure, but we’ll take them for year one. One of the biggest differences in Fisher and Kevin Sumlin is their offensive philosophy. Where Sumlin wants to spread the field and speed up the tempo, Fisher wants to get downhill and control the clock with a pro-style offense.
Fisher also actually uses the tight end position, which allowed Jace Sternberger to put together maybe the best season by a Texas A&M tight end ever. He finished the year with 48 catches, 832 yards and 10 touchdowns, all of which led all receivers on the team. Sternberger was a consensus First Team All American.
He left for the NFL, leaving a gaping hole for someone to fill. Are the Aggies prepared to replace his production? Fisher definitely has a plan in place. He recruited not one but two elite tight end prospects in the 2019 class.
Baylor Cupp was the top tight end in the 2019 recruiting class and enrolled early, so we got a chance to see him in the Spring Game. He did not disappoint, finishing with five catches for 88 yards and a touchdown to lead all receivers.
Cupp came to Aggieland just about as finished a product as a high school player can be. He’s 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, competed in the 200 meter race on his track team, was moved around in his offense at Brock, and was featured heavily as a blocker in that offense. He finished his high school career with 30 catches for 943 yards and 12 touchdowns. That’s better than 30 yards per catch for you math majors.
If anyone could replace a consensus All American at their position, it would be Cupp.
However, as with any freshman, Fisher and tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley have to get him up to speed in the offense and correct his bad habits, which they will in time. Cupp may be able to have a good game or two, but living up to the absurd standard set by Sternberger is too much to ask of a true freshman.
Give it time, because he will absolutely be one of the best players at his position in the conference, probably the country, it will just fall on the rest of the receiving corps to replace Sternberger’s production in the first year without him.