It’s good to be Ryan Tannehill.
He’s the starting quarterback on a Texas A&M squad picked as the second-best in the conference. The Maxwell Award and the Davey O’Brien Award both had him on their respective “watch lists.” He even got engaged in May.
It also doesn’t hurt that he enters his senior season with the luxury of throwing to the best receiving corps in the conference.
“It’s an extreme luxury,” Tannehill said Monday at the Big 12 Media Days. “It’s nice having receivers make plays.”
And they do make plays. Headlined by 2010 Biletkinoff semifinalist Jeff Fuller, the Aggies’ top three wideouts have a combined 4,376 receiving yards and 43 touchdowns in their careers.
There’s Fuller, the typical NFL receiver with a size and speed that poses matchup nightmares who has already set the Aggies’ record for touchdowns in a career, with 12. Next is Ryan Swope, a converted running back from Westlake High School, as dangerous a slot receiver as there is in the country. Swope and Fuller share the school record for receptions in a season, with 72. Rounding out the trio is Uzoma “EZ” Nwachukwu, who Fuller calls the “big-play guy.”
Texas A&M’s Big 3 are so good it’s hard to believe there are other receivers on the roster. But Fuller says not to forget about Nate Askew and tight end Nehemiah Hicks, and running back Cyrus Gray (a weapon in his own right) cautions against taking junior slot receiver Kenric McNeal lightly.
“He’s dangerous,” Gray said. “He’s going to surprise a lot of people this season.”
There are things about each of his receivers that Tannehill loves; Fuller’s physicality, Swope’s speed and Nwachukwu’s hands.
“Jeff should be in the conversation for the top receiver in the nation,” Tannehill said. “Ryan is one of the fastest players in the country. He’ll take a bubble pass and take it to the house, which really opens up the middle for us. EZ has great hands.”
If you combined their size, speed and catching ability, you might come up with the next Jerry Rice. But it might be even more dangerous to have three play-making receivers stretching the field, not just one.
Texas A&M’s receivers should be the best in the conference. But are they the best in the nation?
“I’ll leave it up to you guys,” Fuller said when posed the question. “But we’re up there.”