Texas A&M’s quarterback ready to shine

Sameer Bhuchar

Ryan Tannehill has been saying he is Texas A&M’s best option at quarterback even when he was third on the depth chart behind Jerrod Johnson and Stephen McGee. Now he’s got a chance to prove that over the course of a full season.

Tannehill took over the starting role mid-season last year after Jerrod Johnson failed to live up to expectations. Johnson threw 14 touchdown passes and nine interceptions in six games, and then Tannehill finished the season with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions as the Aggies cruised to a 5-1 record with him at the helm. Now he’s got the starting gig from the get-go.

“One thing Ryan brings to the table, always has, is confidence,” said Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman during Monday’s Big 12 Media Days. “Ryan thought he was the best one. He’s never wavered in his ability to do the job.”

Along with his confidence, the Big Spring native brings another important tool to the Aggie offense — his quarterback IQ. Sherman believes it will pay off big this season.

“What he brings to the table, besides confidence, is a tremendous intellect and athletic ability,” Sherman said. “I think he gets rid of the ball quick, makes quick decisions.”

Though he makes quick decisions, Sherman said that Tannehill still needs to learn to make those quick choices under duress. His only loss came last season against LSU in the Cotton Bowl, where he faced constant pressure. His three interceptions were a big reason the Aggies weren’t able to keep it close, losing 41-24.

But that’s all behind the senior quarterback. Tannehill isn’t shy when it comes to exuding the swagger of a top quarterback in the Big 12.

“I have a lot of respect for the other quarterbacks in this league like Brandon Weeden, Landry Jones and Robert Griffin. I could keep going,” he said. “But at the same time, I want to be better than all of them. It’s just one of those things where the drive within me wants to not only make our team better than those guys’ teams, but to make Texas A&M the best in the country.”

Tannehill is one of the lucky few Big 12 quarterbacks with the luxury of returning with almost his entire receiving corps. The receivers that aren’t returning only accounted for nine receptions last year.

With the pieces around his offense set, Tannehill has the opportunity he’s always wanted — a chance to translate his confidence into wins.

“I finally get to be in that position to fill that leadership role here at A&M,” Tannehill said. “And to be that guy that sets up seven-on-sevens and sets up team functions and be the guy that everyone looks to is something I’ve wanted for a very long time.”