No. 1 ... in January

Texas A&M rises to top of 2013 preseason rankings on the shoulders of Johnny Manziel

Texas A&M rises to top of 2013 preseason rankings on the shoulders of Johnny Manziel

Austin Photo Set: News_Trey_heisman trophy_games of the week_dec 2012_Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel might as well be 10 feet tall and bulletproof at this point. The Kerrville native can do no wrong in anyone's eyes.
Texas A&M
Many football fans and pundits questioned whether the Aggies would succeed in the SEC.  Courtesy of Aggie Athletics
Texas A&M football players
The Aggies easily beat Oklahoma in front of a sold-out crowd at the Cotton Bowl.  Texas A&M University/Facebook
Austin Photo Set: News_Trey_heisman trophy_games of the week_dec 2012_Johnny Manziel
Texas A&M
Texas A&M football players

In college football, the only time it pays to be No. 1 in January is when the final polls of the season are released. But the Texas A&M Aggies are certainly abuzz, thanks to CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd.

On Tuesday, Dodd released his 2013 preseason power poll. Never mind that the college football season doesn’t start for eight months. He has the Aggies as his No. 1 team.

Yes, Texas A&M. Even though Alabama won the national title and proved that they reload in Tuscaloosa, not rebuild. Even though Ohio State was FBS’s only undefeated team and couldn’t participate in the postseason due to sanctions.

 An Aggie rise to No. 1 in August would be unprecedented. For now, it’s just debate.

Putting it in perspective

Texas A&M, to him, is the preseason No. 1. Let’s put this in perspective. If the voters of the Associated Press were to emulate Dodd’s ranking, it would be the first time that an FBS (or the former Division I-A) team from the state of Texas was No. 1 in AP’s preseason poll.

A&M has been No. 2 in the AP preseason poll twice, the last time coming in 1957. Every preseason AP poll since 1936 is archived at Sports-Reference.com.

The University of Texas is the only team in the state to be ranked in the AP’s first poll of the season. But it wasn’t a preseason poll. It was AP’s first poll released in 1946, which occurred on October 7, 1946. An Aggie rise to No. 1 in August would be unprecedented.

For now, it’s just debate, which is exactly what college football thrives on. The Aggies are a better team than just one player, but their rise nationally is on the shoulders of Johnny Manziel, the redshirt freshman who just won the Heisman Trophy.

He might as well be 10 feet tall and bulletproof at this point. The Kerrville native can do no wrong in anyone's eyes.

The attention the Aggies are receiving these days is unheard of. The joke on Facebook shortly after A&M obliterated Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl was that every wide receiver in the 2013 national recruiting class changed their commitment to Texas A&M.

Joking aside, the Aggies are in for a huge recruiting haul, and Manziel has something to do with that. Both Scout.com and Rivals.com, two of the nation’s top recruiting websites, rank the Aggies’ 2013 recruiting classes in the top 10.

‚Äč The Aggies have a tantalizing mix of a folk hero quarterback, a near-loaded roster, a creative head coach and a favorable schedule.

Scout.com has the Aggies at No. 2, while Rivals.com has the Aggies at No. 8. Both have the Aggies with 34 commitments. Last year? The Aggies were ranked No. 21 and No. 15, respectively.

Aggies lose standouts to NFL

Capitalizing on success is one way programs like Texas A&M take that final step. Of course, there are still issues to deal with.

The Aggies lost their top offensive lineman, left tackle Luke Joeckel, and their top defensive end, Damontre Moore, to early entry in the NFL. Mock drafts have the pair in the top 10.

Fortunately, right tackle Jake Matthews is back, and people consider him a leading contender for the Outland Trophy, the award given to college football’s best offensive lineman. That award went to Joeckel in 2012. Matthews will slide over to left tackle in 2013.

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Mike Evans emerged as the program’s top receiver, with 82 catches and 1,105 yards. That’ll soften the blow of losing three senior receivers. Running back Ben Malena will be back and should get 1,000 yards rushing.

The Aggies need some help in the secondary, but they have depth and experience everywhere else on defense. Plus, there’s the schedule. Yes, Alabama is coming to Aggieland on September 14, so circle that date on your calendar.

Yes, the Aggies have to play LSU in Death Valley. But the Aggies managed to avoid every serious contender in the SEC East, including Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Their non-conference schedule is cake.

Combine it all and you have a tantalizing mix of a folk hero quarterback, a near-loaded roster, a creative head coach and a favorable schedule.

No. 1 doesn’t matter until next January. But in Aggieland they’re agog with the possibilities. For once, there’s good reason to believe.