Sugar Bowl Football

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) celebrates his second touchdown carry in the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game against Georgia in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

What’s more American for a Texan than reading Dave Campbell’s Texas Football on July Fourth?

Texas Football hit the newsstands this week, which means you better enjoy what’s left of summer. The Southeastern Conference Media Days are just around the corner, signaling the kickoff of another season. Optimism is high in these parts, higher than in recent years because Texas A&M, Texas and Baylor are coming off strong seasons, which is reflected in the magazine.

Texas junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger is on the cover, which is a good omen for the Longhorns based on last year’s results when the magazine showcased first-year A&M coach Jimbo Fisher. The Aggies went 9-4 and finished 16th in the country.

Ehlinger earned the cover by throwing for 3,292 yards and 25 touchdowns last season. He also rushed for 482 yards and 16 TDs in leading the Longhorns to a 10-4 season and No. 9 final ranking.

The magazine ranks Texas as the state’s best team, stating “for the first time since Colt McCoy (2006-09), Texas is the undisputed top team in the state entering the season.”

A&M is ranked second followed by North Texas, Baylor, TCU, Houston, SMU, Texas Tech, Texas State, Texas-San Antonio, Texas-El Paso and Rice.

The Longhorns are ranked eighth nationally by Texas Football with the Aggies 13th. Clemson is first followed by Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, LSU and Florida.

Texas Football picks Alabama to win the SEC West followed by LSU, A&M, Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas.

“Jimbo Fisher is building something special, but a brutal schedule and key losses to graduation could mean the breakout is another year away,” Texas Football says of the Aggies.

Georgia is picked to win the SEC East followed by Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Texas Football picks Texas to finish second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma with Iowa State third followed by Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Kansas State and Kansas.

Nicholls State is picked to repeat in the Southland Conference followed by Sam Houston State, Central Arkansas, Incarnate Word, Lamar, Southeastern Louisiana, Abilene Christian, Northwestern State, McNeese State, Stephen F. Austin and Houston Baptist.

In the media’s predictions, The Athletic’s David Ubben predicts A&M will surpass LSU and Auburn this season to be Alabama’s chief competition in the SEC West. Texas Football’s Cory Hogue predicts LSU will try to hire Fisher.

A&M’s games against Clemson and LSU received two votes each for the game they’d pay to attend, while five of the 16 voted for the LSU-Texas game, one more than opted for Texas-Oklahoma.

A&M tight end Baylor Cupp got three votes as the true freshman to have the biggest impact this season, well behind Texas athlete Jordan Whittington who got eight votes. A&M defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal earned one vote.

Fisher did wonders with A&M’s offense last year but lost tight end Jace Sternberger, running back Trayveon Williams and center Erik McCoy to the NFL. The early departure of the three juniors is reflected in A&M not having an offensive selection on Texas Football’s All-Texas College Team. Junior lineman Justin Madubuike made the first-team defense. A&M had both first-team specialists make the team in sophomore place-kicker Seth Small and senior punter Braden Mann.

High school preview

Texas Football’s high school section, a strength of the magazine, added a new feature by polling the high school coaches.

Katy’s Gary Joseph was voted the state’s best, getting the most votes from his 252 peers who responded to the survey. Joseph edged out Highland Park’s Randy Allen, the former Bryan assistant under Merrill Green in the 1970s. Aledo’s Tim Buchanan, an assistant under Ross Rogers at A&M Consolidated from 1988-93, also made the Top 10.

The prep coaches voted Fisher the state’s FBS college coach they trusted the least. That might be fallout from Fisher ruffling some high school coaches when he first came to A&M by visiting a 7-on-7 coach in Houston while making his first rounds to high school coaches in the city. At the time, high school coaches who were asked said there was nothing to it, but now you have to wonder. Either that or Fisher hasn’t been in the state long enough to work his charm on everyone, at least those who answered the survey.

Fisher received 32.6% of the votes. Texas’ Tom Herman (23.3%) was second on the least-trusted list with Houston’s Dana Holgorsen (19.8%) third and Texas State’s Jake Spavital (5.7%) fourth. You have to wonder if that goes back to Spavital’s time as offensive coordinator at A&M when he started the 2015 season with underclassmen Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray as quarterbacks only have to both transfer.

The prep coaches also were asked which of the state’s 12 FBS college coaches they trusted most with TCU’s Gary Patterson getting 25.2% of the votes to edge Baylor’s Matt Rhule (21.5%). Fisher was sixth with 6.5%.

Rhule has Baylor fans excited coming off a 7-6 season capped by a bowl victory, a big jump from the Bears’ 1-11 stumble in 2017.

The 34-year-old Spavital was included in the magazine’s best 40 coaches in the state under 40 as did A&M tight end coach Joe Jon Finley. Calvert’s JaMarcus Ashley was included in the 30 high school coaches who made the list as did Houston Strake Jesuit’s Klay Kubiak, son of Gary Kubiak.

As for the all-important high school rankings and predictions, A&M Consolidated is No. 7 in Class 5A Division II. Aledo is first followed by Fort Bend Marshall, Corpus Christi Calallen, Marshall, Huntsville, Manvel, Consol, Frisco Reedy, Lubbock Cooper and South Oak Cliff. Brenham is ranked 24th.

Consol is picked to finish second in Distrct 10-5A-II behind Huntsville. Lamar Consolidated is picked third followed by Montgomery, Rudder, Katy Paetow, Montgomery Lake Creek and Cleveland.

Brenham is picked to win 13-5A-II followed by Leander Glenn, Bastrop, Georgetown East View, Elgin, Bastrop Cedar Creek, Marble Falls and Pflugerville Weiss.

College Station is picked 12th in 5A Division I and predicted to finish second in 8-5A-I behind Lufkin.

Bryan is picked to finish fifth in 14-6A, meaning it would miss the playoffs. Cypress Ranch is picked to win 14-6A followed by Langham Creek, Tomball Memorial and Cypress Woods. Cypress Lakes is picked sixth followed by Cypress Bridgeland, Cypress Springs and Cypress Park.

Navasota is ranked 24th in 4A Division I and picked to win 12-4A-I followed by Houston North Forest, Stafford, Houston Furr, Houston Wheatley, Houston Yates and Houston Worthing.

Madisonville is picked to finish sixth in 8-4A-II, just ahead of Mexia. Waco Connally is picked to win that district followed by Lorena, Fairfield, Waco Robinson and Salado.

Giddings is picked first in 12-4A-II followed by Bellville, La Grange, Smithville, Caldwell and Brookshire Royal.

The Brazos Valley has four ranked teams in 3A. Cameron is fourth in Division I with Franklin ninth and Rockdale 18th. Defending state champion Grandview, which beat Franklin in the regional semifinals, is ranked first followed by Malakoff, Atlanta, Cameron, Yoakum, Brock, Gladewater, Goliad, Franklin and East Chambers. Lexington is 14th in 3A Division II.

Cameron is picked to win 10-3A-I followed by Troy, Rockdale, Little River Academy, Lago Vista, Jarrell and Manor New Tech.

Franklin is picked to win 11-3A-I followed by Diboll, Crockett, Coldspring, Elkhart, Trinity and Palestine Westwood.

Clifton is picked to win 8-3A-II followed by Rogers, Lexington, Hamilton and Florence.

Four Brazos Valley teams are ranked in 2A with Centerville 20th in Division I and Burton eighth in Division II followed by Bremond in 14th and Snook 23rd.

Centerville is picked to win 9-2A-I followed by Cayuga, Leon, Normangee, Kerens and Malakoff Crossroads.

Holland is picked to win 13-2A-I followed by Thorndale, Hearne, Thrall, Milano, Rosebud-Lott and Marlin.

Bremond is picked to win 13-2A-II followed by Granger, Iola, Chilton and Bartlett.

Burton is picked to win 14-2A-II followed by Snook, Flatonia, Louise and Somerville.

Calvert is ranked seventh in Class A Division II with the Trojans tops in 14-A-II followed by Buckhots, McDade and Oglesby.

Among private schools, Brazos Christian is picked fourth in TAPPS Division 4 behind Beaumont Legacy Christian, Tomball Rosehill Christian and Magnolia Legacy Prep.

Huntsville Alpha Omega is picked to win TAPPS 6-man Division II District 3 followed by St. Joseph, Allen Academy, Conroe Covenant, Lake Jackson Brazosport and Houston Grace Christian.

The Brazos Valley didn’t have a player make Texas Football’s Preseason Super Teams, but some A&M recruits made it. Tomball wide receiver Demond Davis and Cibolo Steele defensive back Jaylon Jones, the preseason defensive player of the year, made the first team. Fort Bend Austin wide receiver Troy Omeire and Fort Bend Kempner offensive guard Akinola Ogunbiyi made the second team, and College Park offensive guard Josh Bankhead is on the third team.

Four Brazos Valley players made the magazine’s list of Texas’ Top 300 players: Consol wide receivers Brian Darby and Devin Price and defensive back Nate Floyd and Navasota offensive lineman Jordan Jefferson.

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