The Texas A&M football team will begin spring practice on February 28. There are multiple players that Aggies fans should focus on as the team tries to prepare for the 2014 season.
The Aggies football team finished the 2013 season with a 9-4 record and ranked No. 18 in the country. The Aggies struggled mightily on defense but were repeatedly bailed out by their offense.
The Aggies' defense ended the season ranked No. 109 in the country. The offense finished the season ranked No. 4 in the country. If the Aggies want to improve on their 2013 record then they will need to improve their defense.
The first step in that process will begin during spring practice. The A&M coaches will get the chance to see how much their team has developed since the 2013 season ended.
The coaches need multiple players to step up on both sides of the ball. This is a look at some of the players that Aggies fans should focus on during spring practice.
Aggie freshman DT Zaycoven Henderson
The 6'1", 310-pound athlete can offer the Aggies immediate help on the interior in 2014. If he performs well in spring practice, then he will break into the defensive tackle rotation in 2014.
To be an elite team in the SEC you need to be three-deep at every position. This is especially true on the defensive line because most SEC games are decided in the trenches.
If Henderson has a strong spring, it will indicate he is ready for SEC competition and that will be a huge boost to the Aggies' depth on the interior defensive line.
Kenny Hill is a 6'1", 215-pound rising sophomore quarterback for Texas A&M. Hill played sparingly in 2013 completing 72.7 percent of his passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 37 yards on seven carries.
Hill will compete with Kyle Allen and Matt Joeckel for the Aggies' starting quarterback spot in 2014. Because of his mobility, Hill resembles former starter Johnny Manziel more than any quarterback currently on campus.
Hill showed Aggies fans what he could do during the third quarter against UTEP in 2013. He drove the Aggies 76 yards for a touchdown and completed five of six passes for 57 yards in the game.
Hill has a very strong arm, and in his limited playing time has displayed the ability to get the ball out quickly. He is a different kind of runner than Manziel in that he is not as elusive, but brings more power to the equation.
The competition for the starting quarterback position will likely extend into August. Hill is definitely someone Aggies fans should keep an eye on during the spring.
Kyle Allen is a 6'3", 200-pound freshman quarterback from Scottsdale, Arizona. He is a 5-star recruit who enrolled early at A&M and will participate in spring practice.
Allen has a strong arm, a quick release and is relatively mobile in the pocket. Whether or not he is a legitimate competitor for the starting quarterback position will be determined by how quickly he picks up the Aggies offense.
Allen ran a spread offense in high school and has displayed the ability to pick up offenses quickly. After one week of practice, Allen starred in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl completing 12 of 18 passes for 183 yards.
Allen has all the physical tools needed to be a starting quarterback in the SEC. His ability to grasp the concepts of this offense and make the correct reads on the field will be closely observed during the spring.
The middle linebacker position is in flux right now. Darian Claiborne started at middle linebacker for nine games as a true freshman. Claiborne displayed tremendous instincts while registering 89 tackles with seven tackles for loss.
There is some concern that Claiborne is not big enough to play in the middle, so the middle linebacker spot is open for the spring. Claiborne is going to play at weak-side outside linebacker while the coaches look at Reggie Chevis and other options in the middle.
Chevis is a 6'1", 250-pound middle linebacker from Sharpstown High School in Houston. He was an early enrollee in 2013, so he already has participated in one spring practice with the team. Chevis redshirted during the 2013 season.
Chevis has ideal size for a middle linebacker in the SEC. If he can hold up against the run and make the correct reads during the spring, he will seize the starting spot. If he struggles, then Claiborne will be moved back inside.
Texas A&M fans were teased by the freakish ability of wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones in 2013. He caught three passes for 84 yards and a touchdown in the season opener against Rice.
Seals-Jones was injured in that game and that prevented him from being effective in the Aggies' second game of the year against Sam Houston State. Seals-Jones sat out the rest of the year with a knee injury.
With Mike Evans moving on to the NFL, Seals-Jones is going to be expected to step up and become a major contributor to the Aggies' receiving corps. Seals-Jones' 6'6", 240-pound frame makes him a mismatch for every defensive back in America.
Aggies fans and coaches will be watching Seals-Jones closely this spring to see how he has recovered from his injury, and if he has worked on the finer nuances of playing the wide receiver position.