Is making College Football Playoff a possibility?

COLLEGE STATION — When linebacker Anthony Hines opted out of playing for Texas A&M less than a week prior to kickoff, the Aggies hated to lose quality depth at the position.

a group of baseball players playing a game of football: Texas A&M linebacker Aaron Hansford has worked his way onto the NFL radar after taking over as a starter late in the preseason.

© Rogelio V. Solis, Associated Press

Texas A&M linebacker Aaron Hansford has worked his way onto the NFL radar after taking over as a starter late in the preseason.

They didn’t mind who would be earning even more snaps in Hines’ sudden absence, however: senior Aaron Hansford, who had made a strong bid in camp to start whether Hines was part of the program or not.

Hansford, who in 2016 started his A&M career as a receiver under then-coach Kevin Sumlin and moved to halfback and tight end along the way, shifted to linebacker prior to the 2019 season.

He quickly relearned the position — he had played linebacker in high school back home in Washington, D.C. — and through four games this season is third on the team with 24 tackles (including a sack) for the 3-1 and No. 7 Aggies.

Leading to this tweet from Jim Nagy, longtime NFL scout, ESPN NFL draft analyst and executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl: “One prospect that has made a jump from junior tape is … Aaron Hansford. (He’s) a first-year starting converted tight end (who’s) gotten better every game so far in 2020.”

Nagy added that insiders have informed him Hansford, who’s 6-3 and 245, can run the 40-yard dash in the high 4.5-second range (aka fast for a nearly 250-pound guy). On to a handful of a submissions with the Aggies off this weekend and next hosting Arkansas on Halloween night, as always with some edited for brevity and clarity:

Q: Do the players get to go home during the bye weekend? They usually do, but wasn’t sure if that changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. — Bill

BZ: Jimbo Fisher said he trusts his players to use good judgment on an off weekend. Fisher really doesn’t have any choice.

“You can’t stop them, they can go (home) all they want,” Fisher said. “You tell them to be smart, like I always have. (For instance) after a game, how do I stop them from seeing their families? When their families come to a game, it’s no different.”

Fisher said he emphasizes with his players to only be around people who have been tested for the virus, “and don’t jeopardize the team in any way, shape or form.”

As for Fisher’s plans this weekend?

“If I can, I’ll be with the family,” he said. “I may watch some (football) here and there, depending on what (family members) want to do.

The coach added that the Fisher crew, including his sons, might head out into the countryside for a time, or do a little hunting. Fisher, 55, married Courtney Harrison over the summer.

“It could be anything,” Fisher said of the bye-week Fisher home itinerary. “After a ton of prep, I’ll try and spend a little time with the family.”

Q: What are the Aggies’ chances of making the College Football Playoff? — John

BZ: A&M is up to No. 7 in the Associated Press poll, meaning the Aggies still have an outside shot at making the four-team CFP. After Auburn and Tennessee dropped out of the top 25 this past weekend, the Aggies no longer have a ranked opponent in their six remaining regular-season contests.

I don’t see No. 2 Alabama losing the rest of the way, so the Aggies will have to do some mighty fine impressing the rest of the way to squeeze in as a second SEC team in the CFP. It’s not unheard of — following the 2017 season Georgia and Alabama both made it, and the Crimson Tide beat the Bulldogs in the title game (because that’s what Alabama does, mostly).

Q: What will attendance look like at basketball games? — The Wise Man

BZ: Like normal. Kidding! I believe that’s all to be determined, but one big thing that makes hoops different than football is it’s played indoors (not exactly breaking news here). An A&M spokesman said Friday that the program intends to “operate at a reduced and distanced capacity” this season.

We’ll find out exactly what that means starting Dec. 2 when the Aggies host Tarleton State and former A&M coach Billy Gillispie. He’s been gone from A&M 13 years now, so I doubt his courtside presence would have moved the needle much either way at this point, pandemic or no pandemic, concerning crowd size.

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