Aggies sixth in preseason coaches poll

A year ago, Texas A&M started the season unranked and made a gradual climb en route to one of their best seasons in school history.

This year, the Aggies are starting near the top of the heap and expectations are as high as ever.

The Aggies debuted at No. 6 in the USA Today preseason coaches poll, which was released on Thursday. It is Texas A&M's best preseason ranking since 1995.

The Aggies are coming off a strong 2012 campaign. Texas A&M went 11-2 in its first season as an SEC member and finished ranked No. 5 in the polls, the highest end-of-season ranking for the Aggies since 1956. It was their third top-five finish and 12th top-10 finish in program history.

In its second year under head coach Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M returns six offensive starters and five on defense. Leading the way is the trio of offensive stars, reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, All-American offensive tackle Jake Matthews and receiver Mike Evans.

Texas A&M opens fall practice on Monday.

In front of the Aggies in the poll are Alabama at No. 1, followed by Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford and Georgia. A&M hosts Alabama on Sept. 14 at Kyle Field. The Aggies received one first-place vote in the poll. They were one of only three teams to receive first-place votes in addition to Alabama (58) and Ohio State (three)