10 TEXAS A&M

The returning quarterback has shown he can win
August 21, 2011

Ryan Tannehill has snagged more than 100 balls during his Texas A&M career, but he's the first to admit that his best catch came on April 15. On the night before the spring game Tannehill found a quiet spot at Wolf Pen Creek near his College Station apartment and proposed to his girlfriend of three years, Lauren Ufer. The two will be married next January in Mexico, and if Tannehill has any prewedding jitters, he's hiding it very well. "We're doing a destination wedding, so it's all done," Tannehill says. "I don't have to worry about any of that. What I need to worry about is the playbook."

That's unlikely to be an issue for the brainy Tannehill, who graduated in May with a degree in biology and a minor in business and is taking master's classes this fall in child development. He competed for the quarterback job as a freshman but was switched to wideout before the start of the season and set school freshman records in both receptions (55) and receiving yards (844). As a sophomore Tannehill was honorable-mention All--Big 12. "I was able to contribute and had a lot of fun doing that," he says. "But I've always thought of myself as a quarterback."

His time finally arrived last October. With the team 3--3, coach Mike Sherman replaced a struggling Jerrod Johnson with Tannehill during the second quarter of a win over Kansas. The Aggies reeled off six straight victories, including defeats of Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas, before losing to LSU 41--24 in the Cotton Bowl. Tannehill completed a school-record 65% of his passes for 1,638 yards and 13 TDs. "When you make a quarterback change, it can be a rough transition," Sherman says, "but that was about as good a transition as you can have."

A&M has a pair of Doak Walker candidates at running back (senior Cyrus Gray and junior Christine Michael), a first-round NFL talent at wideout (senior Jeff Fuller) and four returning starters on the offensive line. Keep in mind that the 6'4", 219-pound Tannehill has only six starts at quarterback, so he'll benefit from a full camp as much as any Aggie. Says Sherman, "Even when he was a freshman, Ryan always believed that he was the best quarterback we had."

Schedule

SEPTEMBER

4 SMU

17 Idaho

24 Oklahoma State

OCTOBER

1 vs. Arkansas (in Arlington, Texas)

8 at Texas Tech

15 Baylor

22 at Iowa State

29 Missouri

NOVEMBER

5 at Oklahoma

12 at Kansas State

19 Kansas

24 Texas

Key Players

JEFF FULLER

WR, Senior

A monster target at 6'4" and 215 pounds, he finished third in the Big 12 in receiving yardage (1,066).

CYRUS GRAY

RB, Senior

Led the team in rushing yards (1,133) and TDs (12) last year, finishing with seven straight 100-yard games.

CORYELL JUDIE

CB, Senior

Nagurski Trophy candidate had 57 tackles, four picks and 30.3 yards per return.

Fast Facts

Conference Big 12

Coach Mike Sherman (4th year)

2010 Record 9--4 (6--2 in Big 12)

Final AP Rank 19

Returning Starters 17

Offense 9, Defense 8

PHOTOBRETT DAVIS/US PRESSWIRE (TANNEHILL)Tannehill didn't waste time after he took over the job—the former star receiver threw for a school-record 449 yards in his first start, a 45--27 defeat of Texas Tech. PHOTOMARK J. REBILAS/US PRESSWIRE (JUDIE) PHOTOPhotograph by DAVE EINSEL/APGray, who rushed for 1,133 yards last season—including seven straight 100-yard games—is one of two Doak Walker Award candidates in the Aggies' backfield.

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