Texas A&M Football: Players to Watch as Aggies Start Fall Practice
The Texas A&M Football team begins two-a-day practices on August 3. There are multiple players that Aggie fans need to focus on during the first week of practice.
These players will help determine whether the Aggies have a successful or disappointing debut in the Southeastern Conference.
The Aggies need to address the question of who their starting quarterback will be. They also have some major depth questions on the defensive line. They need to find answers to these questions in order to have the type of team that can win three to four conference games and qualify for a bowl game.
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Jameill Showers is considered the favorite to win the starting quarterback job. A strong first week of practice will lock up the position for him.
Sumlin has said that he wants to name a starter two weeks before the season opener. With the season opener on Thursday, August 30, that means that he will likely name a starter by August 16.
That will give Showers approximately two weeks to claim the spot. Showers had the strongest spring of all the quarterback candidates. He limited mistakes and was successful in moving the offense up and down the field.
Expect him to lay claim to the starter spot early in camp.
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Johny Manziel was one of the most highly recruited quarterback in the nation coming out of high school and received national player of the year awards. He redshirted during the 2011 season.
Manziel ran a spread offense in high school, so he should be prepared to play in Kliff Kingsbury's high-powered offense.
Showers struggled during the spring practices with making good decisions. He turned the ball over too many times. Showers needs to focus on staying in the pocket and making good decisions with the ball.
If he can make better decisions with the ball, then he will make a run at the starting spot.
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Shayvion Hattern redshirted during the 2011 season. He enters his red-shirt freshman year as one of the players who could have the biggest impact on the outcome of the Ags' 2012 season.
The Aggies have very poor depth along the interior defensive line. At 6'4" and 295 lbs., Hatten has the size to hold up against the physical SEC offensive lines.
Hatten was highly thought of coming out of high school, but struggled during the spring. The Ags really need the light to go on for Hatten. If incoming defensive tackle Edmund Ray does not qualify for admission, then Hatten will be the only lineman with the size to compete in the SEC on the interior.
If Hatten does not step up, then the Aggies will be left with playing backup defensive tackles that weigh around 260 pounds. That is not a recipe for success in the SEC.
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Jonathan Mathis may be the most important returning player on the A&M squad. He will start at nose tackle in Mark Snyder's 4-3 defense.
Mathis missed most of the 2011 season with a leg injury. He was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA and will likely be the Ags' best interior defensive lineman in 2012.
If he is back at 100 percent, then the A&M defense should be very formidable against the run in 2012. If he is not fully recovered from his injury, then it will be a long season for the Aggie defense.
The depth on the interior defensive line is thin with Mathis healthy. Without him, the Aggies will have a very poor defense.
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Sumlin wanted to add more speed to the wide receiver position in the 2012 recruiting class. so he signed Sabian Holmes out of Southlake (TX) High School.
Holmes is a legit 4.4 guy in the 40 and may be able to find his way on the field at slot receiver in 2012. The Aggies need some playmakers to take attention away Ryan Swope so defenses do no constantly double-team him.
Holmes has been working out with his teammates all summer and may have a jump on fellow freshman wide receiver Thomas Johnson, who missed some time due to an ankle sprain.
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Polo Manukainiu will compete for playing time at strong-side defensive end. He reported for summer workouts at 6'6", 270 lbs., and there were some thoughts that he may gain enough wait to compete move to DT.
Manukainiu lost 15 pounds in Larry Jackson's strength and conditioning program and is now down to 255 lbs. Expect him to add some depth at the strong-side DE position.
He may also see some playing time when the Aggies go to their 3-4 or 3-3-5 alignments.
Manukainiu has the size and strength to compete immediately in the trenches in the SEC.
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If Cambell can remain healthy, he could be the best defensive football player that the Aggies have. Blessed with the size of a safety but the speed of a cornerback, Campbell has great range in the defensive backfield.
He is a ferocious hitter who could be a true difference-maker in the secondary.
Cambell's biggest problem is that he has never been able to stay healthy.
If he can make it through the first few practices without getting dinged up, it may signal a change of fortune for Campbell.
He needs to stay healthy and show the coaches what he can do because this staff has never seen him play. Camplbell sat out the spring while recovering from surgery.