Texas A&M carries an old reputation for toughness, but the Aggies have been troubled lately with a plethora of if-come players who have yet to come. Mainly they are Fullback Budgie Ford, Halfback Tommy Meeks and Tackle Melvin Simmons, all brilliant high school athletes who were expected to do big things for A&M. They have one last chance as seniors and Ford sums it up best: "We realize, 17 of us, that we were the best recruiting class A&M had had in years, and none of us had ever been losers. This is our last chance, and I think we'll surprise people."
It will be difficult for TCU, the upsettingest team in the SWC, to surprise anyone. Abe Martin has, in his own words, "the barest cupboard since I've been coach" (11 years). There are a few proven Horned Frogs—Fullback Larry Bulaich, Halfback Jim Fauver, Guard Steve Garmon and Center Ken Henson (6 feet 6, 250), of whom Redskin Scout Bucko Kilroy says, "They say he won't make all-conference down there but all I see him do is snap the ball and knock everybody down." Four players, however, do not make a team and TCU will be fortunate to win four.
From bottom to top, the Southwest is not as strong as a year ago, but it will be many years before it is again. Indeed, 1963 was the SWC's finest year in history, for it not only produced the No. 1 team and coach ( Texas and Royal), it also produced the Lineman of the Year ( Texas' Scott Appleton), the No. 1 passer ( Trull), the No. 1 receiver (Eikins), the No. 1 punter ( Thomas), the No. 1 punt returner (Ken Hatfield, Arkansas), the NFL's No. 1 draft choice ( Texas Tech's David Parks) and six All-Americas who made one or more major selections.
It is small wonder that the UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON, outside the swank circle of the Southwest, is somewhat envious. A booming independent, Houston is on the verge of becoming a major power. There are seven starters returning among 21 lettermen, and they include Quarterback Jack Skog for passing, Halfback Joe Lopasky for power and Split End-Halfback Mike Spratt for speed. Now all Houston needs is Warren McVea, the most sought-after high-schooler in the state this recruiting year. McVea is a freshman and Houston's insurance. But he will not begin to pay dividends until next year.