Spring Practice Primer: Texas A&M Aggies
What can Kevin Sumlin, Johnny "Football" Manziel and Co. do for an encore?
College football never ends, and during the next few weeks teams will be getting ready for the 2013 season in their spring practice sessions. Here's a look at the Texas A&M Aggies and what they'll be working on this spring.
Spring practice begins: Saturday, March 2
Spring game: April 13
2012 record: 11-2 (tied 2nd SEC West, Cotton Bowl champions)
Returning starters: 10 (6 offensive, 4 defensive)
The Least You Should Know About Texas A&M This Spring.
-- Aggies are looking for the next Damontre Moore. Or even the next Sean Porter. The bad news for Texas A&M's 2012 defense was that, despite coordinator Mark Snyder's aggressive style, it didn't actually produce that many big plays, finishing 12th in the SEC in turnovers-forced and ninth in tackles-for-loss. The worse news is that their top three players in tackles-for-loss -- starting with All-American Moore and his 21.5 of them, and followed by top linebacker Porter -- have all departed. So what's the good news? Strongside linebacker Steven Jenkins could be poised for a breakout year, and sophomore end Julien Obioha should be much-improved after 12 starts as a true freshman. But spring camp is an opportunity for nearly every member of the Aggies' front seven to earn a shot at boosting the team's disruption.
-- The backup quarterback battle will be worth watching. An early enrollee in the class of 2012, 6-foot-2, 206-pound dual threat Matt Davis was allegedly part of the Aggies' starting quarterback race at this time last year. Johnny rendered that race null and void by the time fall camp rolled around, but Davis' redshirt season and athleticism should make him the favorite to back up Manziel in 2013. But he'll have to fend off strong-armed 6-4 junior Matt Joeckel and do everything he can to build a sizable lead over touted incoming freshmen Kohl Stewart (a potential baseball defector) and Kenny Hill.
-- The offensive line will try not to be the only thing standing between A&M and 80 points a game. Thanks to the Aggies' ridiculous stockpile of skill-position talent -- Manziel, Ben Malena and various Williamses at tailback, the best recruiting class of wideouts in the nation joining freshman All-American Mike Evans -- the only real question mark for Kevin Sumlin's attack is up front. No team in the country can simply replace a talent like likely No. 1 overall draft pick Luke Joeckel, but the Aggies are as well-positioned to try as anyone -- 2014 first-round lock Jake Matthews will simply slide from right tackle to Joeckel's spot on the left, while outstanding junior right guard Cedric Ogbuehi will shift to right tackle. Left guard Jarvis Harrison started all 12 games in 2012 and isn't going anywhere.
But the Aggies still have to deal with a change at center -- where Matthews' brother, Mike Matthews, takes over after a redshirt season -- and right guard, where either Kimo Tipoti or Ben Compton could grab the starting job. All the upheaval means there could be some stops and starts throughout spring. But if the Aggies' ample experience and talent wins out by the end of camp, look out.
-- Several early enrollees are looking to make an immediate impact. Sumlin brought in a hefty nine freshmen and/or JUCO or prep school prospects for spring practice, led by consensus four-star wideout JaQuay Williams. While Williams is expected to see the field right away -- even in the Aggies' deep receiving corps -- he could be joined by the likes of tight end Cameron Clear, linebacker Tommy Sanders or true freshman inside linebacker Brett Wade.
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