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August 6, 2009

Storylines: What to do with Tannehill

With August training camp opening in less than a week at Texas A&M, the Aggies have plenty of questions with just little over a month until opening night at Kyle Field. Over the next week, we at AggieYell.com will take a peek at the top storylines in Aggieland facing the team in camp.

Last season redshirt freshman Ryan Tannehill led the Aggies in receiving with 844 yards on 55 receptions, both freshmen records, and five touchdowns through the air. So one would think that Tannehill would be the guy to be seen opposite Jeff Fuller on just about every play, right?

Well, not so fast. Tannehill originally enrolled at A&M as a quarterback out of Big Spring, and the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder has every intention of competing for the starting quarterback job with junior Jerrod Johnson. Head coach Mike Sherman has also promised Tannehill that he would work out in practice at quarterback and have his chance to unseat Johnson.

Last season, Tannehill was initially in a three-horse race with Johnson and Stephen McGee for the top job but after a few weeks in August camp he was moved to receiver for some drills where he immediately made a major impact.

This August Tannehill will compete at quarterback for more reasons than just the Sherman's promise and his desire to play under center. In the spring, despite not throwing in contact drills after offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder, Tannehill earned the backup job on the very fluid depth chart behind Johnson. That was because redshirt freshman Tommy Dorman didn't show enough to give the coaching staff confidence that he could get the job done in a game situation.

Now obviously there is a lot of time left for Dorman. He has a lot of the tools to be successful in college, but he still has a ways to go. Chalk it up to being young. But without another reliable quarterback behind Johnson, Sherman will be very reluctant to use Tannehill as an every down receiver just in case Johnson goes down to injury.

Besides, it happened last season with McGee and Johnson filled in nicely. And A&M's offensive line is still a work in progress so injury is still a major concern for an A&M signal caller.

This August will be a time to really watch how much the Aggies use Tannehill as a receiver in drills and how much Dorman improves from spring to fall. If Dorman does take that step and the coaching staff feels confident that he could lead the Aggies on game day should Johnson go down and Tannehill gets hurt, then you could certainly see Tannehill at receiver more often than obvious passing situations.

But don't count out Tannehill for the job at quarterback either. Even though it appears that it's Johnson's job to lose at this point, and it is, Tannehill could provide a challenge.

And that would be just fine to Tannehill.

Storylines entering August training camp:

Finding a WR next to Fuller
Finding the right leaders
Youth movement on defense

Like what you're seeing? Want to get all the latest on the Aggie program? Want to feel like you're at August camp yourself? If the answer is yes, then click here to subscribe and get 24 hours of Texas A&M coverage every day with the best team and recruiting coverage you'll get anywhere on your Aggies. With unprecedented coverage of August camp and the 2009 football season just around the corner, now is the time to join the AggieYell.com family!


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