The bad news: The Aggies probably aren't going to have quarterback Johnny Manziel
around to bail out their porous defense in 2014. The good news: Texas A&M's defense has to be better than it was this past season, when four freshmen or sophomores started on that side of the ball. Rising senior Matt Joeckel
or sophomore Kenny Hill
will inherit the unenviable task of replacing Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, who is entering the NFL draft as a sophomore. Receiver Mike Evans
, another draft-eligible sophomore, is also turning pro. The Aggies also will have to replace All-American left tackle Jake Matthews
and receivers Travis Labhart
and Derel Walker
. But coach Kevin Sumlin has stockpiled a solid corps of running backs and receivers and four starting offensive linemen are expected to return. Only two defensive starters -- linebacker Steven Jenkins
and safety Toney Hurd Jr. -- are expected to leave. The Aggies' nonconference schedule (home games against FCS foe Lamar, Rice and Louisiana-Monroe and a road contest at SMU) shouldn't be too challenging, but they'll play SEC road games at South Carolina, Alabama and Auburn. For more on how the Aggies will look in 2014, check out Texas A&M's recruiting profile and ESPN RecruitingNation's class rankings.
The Tar Heels were one of the ACC's hottest teams in the second half of the season, recovering from a 1-5 start to win six of their last seven games, including a 39-17 win over Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. In coach Larry Fedora's second season, UNC finally seemed to figure out the nuances of his spread offense, averaging 40.5 points in its last seven games. The Tar Heels were really young in 2013 -- 12 of their 22 starters in the Belk Bowl were freshmen or sophomores -- and they might bring back seven starters on both sides of the ball next season. Junior tight end Eric Ebron
and center Russell Bodine
are leaving for the NFL draft, and departing left tackle James Hurst
is another big loss on offense. Fedora also will have to hire a new playcaller after offensive coordinator Blake Anderson left to become Arkansas State's coach. UNC will play ACC road games at Clemson, Duke, Miami and Virginia. For more on how the Tar Heels will look in 2014, check out UNC's recruiting profile and ESPN RecruitingNation's class rankings.