In a surprising development, redshirt freshman Johny Manziel lined up under center first when the Texas A&M offense took the field in the first scrimmage of the fall. Manziel led a surprising amount of freshmen who saw significant playing time in the scrimmage.
According to Billy Liucci from TexAgs.com, Manziel completed 18 of 22 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Manziel was not the only surprise starter on Saturday. True freshman De'Vante Harris lined up with the first-team defense at cornerback.
True freshman running back Trey Williams was the star of the scrimmage with nine carries for 136 yards and three touchdowns. It should be noted that the Aggies' two starting defensive tackles sat out the scrimmage with minor injuries.
Junior college transfer Derel Walker led the Aggie receiving corps with three catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore wideout Malcome Kennedy pitched in eight receptions for 72 yards.
Manziel was thought to be trailing third-year sophomore Jameill Showers in the quarterback derby after Manziel struggled with turnovers during the spring.
According to Kevin Sumlin, all four of the quarterbacks on the roster played about 30 snaps each in the scrimmage. Both Showers and Manziel were allowed to run the first-team offense.
The coaches should have plenty of tape to break down before they make their final decision on who will start at quarterback against Louisiana Tech on August 30.
If Manziel can continue to make good decisions with the ball, then he will likely be the starter. He is faster than Showers and is more of a dual-threat quarterback.
Manziel started the first scrimmage on the spring also. He had issues with throwing the ball to the wrong team, so he was demoted to second team. Showers made the correct reads and moved the offense down the field.
After a summer of 7-on-7 workouts, it appears that Manziel may have cleaned up his game. The coaches are going to play the quarterback who gives the team the best chance to win, and a quarterback who is a threat to run the ball for a touchdown has to be tempting.
Junior defensive end Damontre Moore paced the defense with three sacks. It appears he has adjusted to his move to weak-side defensive end.
Spencer Nealy continued to see some time at weak-side tackle, while freshman Julian Obioha manned the strong-side defensive end spot.
Right now, the defensive line is the weakest part of the Aggie team. They need Obioha and some of the other freshmen to step up to give them some depth. The reality is that even if the freshmen do step up, A&M is going to be undersized on the defensive line in 2012.
Harris getting the start at corner was a surprise because Floyd Raven and Deshazor Everett had such strong springs. It is a forgone conclusion that if Harris is starting in the scrimmages, he will not take a redshirt in 2012.
In 2009, during the second year of Mike Sherman's tenure, the Aggies played 18 true freshmen during the season. Most of those players, like Sean Porter and Ryan Swope, have developed into impact players who are the senior leaders of this team.
Even with all the seniors on this team, it appears that the 2012 squad will still have a youthful feel to it with all of the freshmen pushing their way onto the field.