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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Fall practice showcases new players, brings clarity

 
 

The Texas A&M football team began its fall practices amid plenty of allegations, but among that old news, new football stars were forming.
Just one day before camp, news broke that quarterback Johnny Manziel reportedly took thousands of dollars for signing autographs.
The reports have stolen headlines for much of the week, but the first week of football practices have brought clarity to the team.
If Manziel was at all distracted because of the allegations, he didn’t show it on the football field. Manziel was seen joking with teammates and coaches during multiple practices.
During Friday’s practice he showed the mobility that won over college football fans and won him a Heisman.
Also on display was A&M’s influx of young talent. Head coach Kevin Sumlin set out on the recruiting trail a year ago looking to make the A&M football team bigger and faster.
The most impressive of them all has been freshman wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones who reported to camp at 6-6, 240 pounds. He could play a number of positions on the field and has shown why he was one of the most highly recruited players in Sumlin’s signing class.
“Ricky Seals-Jones looks outstanding,” wide receivers coach David Beaty said. “That guy, he looks at weights and he grows another muscle somewhere in his body. He’s a big kid.”
Seals-Jones has benefited from strength coach Larry Jackson, who has developed a reputation for working players into the ground during the offseason. In exchange, players have noted their development in size and weight.
Sophomore defensive back De’Vante Harris was excited about his 14-pound jump to 175 pounds following Jackson’s schedule. But that wasn’t the only thing he worked on during the offseason, dedicating time to improve his tackling.
“I’ve worked on my aggressiveness and coming to balance,” Harris said. “[Defensive backs coach Marcel Yates] really worked with me, because we all know I had trouble tackling last year.”
Harris, along with sophomore defensive lineman Julien Obioha, quickly became favorites during the week as young players who made their media debuts.
Speaking of favorites, the job for Johnny Manziel’s backup appears undecided. Both junior Matt Joeckel and redshirt freshman Matt Davis took second-team reps during practices with no clear-cut favorite yet. Freshman Kenny Hill hasn’t seen second team playing time but has impressed some coaches. That success hasn’t come with its fair share of learning curves.
“Things are happening faster,” Sumlin said. “He threw a field comeback the other day that got picked off and I said, ‘Things happen a little bit faster out here don’t they?’ He said, ‘Yeah coach, they are. Normally in high school I could make that.”
The first week of practices served as a time for coaches to get players on the same page and move past any off-the-field news. As they inched one week closer to the season opener against Rice on Aug. 31, practice began separating the leaders from the followers.
“Everybody’s talking about the look of our team, it looks different,” Sumlin said. “A lot of those young guys help, they walk in 6-3, 6-4, 225 [pounds]. That changes the look of your team. We had a great summer, which says a lot about your team. For those guys to come in, in the summer, that takes leadership from within. It’s a culture and it takes some time, but I’m happy. I think you can see the difference in a lot of different people.”

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