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The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Sumlin discusses variety of topics, eager for upcoming events

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Photo by Photo by: C. Morgan Engel

Head Coach Kevin Sumlin coaches his quarterbacks and wide receivers during a drill. 

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin was business as usual after Wednesday’s practice, but did address a variety of topics surrounding his team.

Quarterback questions to remain silent until fall

When asked how the quarterback competition was playing out, Sumlin’s answer was simple: There won’t be any decisions made until fall camp.

“We’re still evaluating,” Sumlin said of the position battle. “Nobody’s separated themselves, everybody’s getting reps.”

Jake Hubenak ran with the first team offense during 11-man on-air drills Tuesday, but the senior continues to split reps with Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond with the starting group.

Starkel has continued to impress with his passing abilities, but Sumlin reiterated that by no means is the redshirt freshman in the lead.

“He’s gotten better,” Sumlin briefly said of Starkel’s progression. “There’s nothing going to be decided until fall.”

Corners return from season injuries

Down the stretch of last season, the Aggie defense was plagued with injury, which affected both starting corners Priest Willis and Nick Harvey.

Sumlin noted that once each corner went down, it was difficult for A&M to find replacements that could play at the same level and also limited its coverage options.

“I look back at last year, and if you watch early in the year, we were pretty effective with a healthy Priest Willis,” Sumlin said. “When he got hurt and we put more pressure on putting some of the other younger guys out there and moving guys out of position, I think we had some issues. I thought Priest allowed us to play some aggressive coverages, blitz a little more than we were able to later on in the season – it became obvious.”

Now into the spring, both Willis and Harvey have recovered and are back on the field for the maroon and white.

The veteran-laden secondary is one of the strongest units the team has to offer, and Sumlin having both corners back on the field will be a difference maker knowing what the Aggies pose over top at safety.

“The fact that Priest Willis and Nick Harvey are healthy really helps us,” Sumlin said of the returning starters. “A healthy Priest Willis and an experienced Nick Harvey make a difference because Armani’s back there, Donovan’s back there, Larry Pryor’s played a lot of football. The real difference I think in the secondary were the corner injuries, and now they’re pretty healthy and are effective like they were through the first half of the season.”

Moving pieces surround team

With a new season comes position changes, and the Aggies have made several switches in the past few months.

The most notable flip may be on the offensive line, where Colton Prater has moved over to center with Erik McCoy now playing guard. The move is one that Sumlin is confident in, creating flexibility up front on offense.

“You’ve seen us moving Erik McCoy around a little bit, trying to find another center. Doing some things with Colton Prater with what he can do without contact,” Sumlin said. “There’s some moving pieces in that offensive line as we did last year… We’re always going to play with lineups in that offensive line which gives us the flexibility down the road to still, with an injury like we had last year, to still be effective.”

On defense, there are several other moving pieces with a pair of former receivers switching to the secondary.

“Kemah Siverand’s playing corner and getting some reps there – something we did during bowl season,” Sumlin added. “Jamal [Jeffery] has been moved from receiver to nickel to see if he wants to try and get on the field.

Up front, redshirt freshman Justin Madubuike is one guy Sumlin is keen on and after originally playing end, has been moved around after a major increase in size added with the different schemes A&M is implementing.

“Justin Madubuike’s really full-time inside tackle now,” Sumlin said. “He can play a little outside cause we’re playing a couple different defenses. He’s 300 pounds now, so he’s kind of out-grown the edge, but he’s coming on, doing some good things.”

Upcoming events provide eagerness

On Thursday, A&M will hold its annual Pro Day, but with nine former players having participated in last month’s NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis, Sumlin noted guys will partake in all kinds of various events.

“Everybody’s got something different they’re going to do,” Sumlin said. “When you have nine guys go to the combine, some guys ran, some guys didn’t. Everybody’s got their own deal tomorrow. Some guys who ran aren’t going to run, some guys who worked out aren’t going to workout, some guys are going to jump.”

Former quarterback Trevor Knight is expected to throw, and with a handful of NFL general managers planning to be in attendance, Knight will have a chance to shine just like several others Sumlin sees climbing up the charts.

“We’ve got some GM’s in here tomorrow to make some decisions as some guys are moving up the board,” Sumlin added. “Lots of conversation about Josh Reynolds, lots of conversation about Jermaine Eluemunor and it’s about fit and where those guys are going to be. It’ll be a great day for them tomorrow. We’ve got a lot of guys who have earned the right to really display what they can do.”

While Sumlin’s former standouts prepare for the next level, his current team will continue to prep for next season and the Aggies’ open scrimmage ‘Friday Night Lights’ is slated for Friday night at 8:00 p.m. – an event Sumlin is excited for.

“Friday Night Lights is a great opportunity, going to be an open scrimmage for everybody,” Sumlin said. “For our guys, it’s kind of something we started when we got here, it’s a reflection of Texas high school football.”

Sumlin added that while it is a community event, the scrimmage is also targeted at students.
“It’s really a student event also. We’ve got some free food which always gets students, [they] kind of like that deal I’ve heard. It’s free to the public and it’ll be a great event for us,” Sumlin concluded. “It’s an open scrimmage under the lights at Kyle Field just so we can get a better evaluation on them and really an appreciation that people come out and watch our guys.”

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