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The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Sumlin, players discuss upcoming football season at SEC Media Days

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Photo by Couresty of Brent Zwerneman

Texas A&M head football coach addressed a group of media representatives at SEC Media Days this week in Hoover, Ala.

HOOVER, Ala. — Texas A&M took center stage at SEC Media Days at The Wynfrey Hotel, Wednesday afternoon, discussing a multitude of questions concerning the Aggies in 2017.

“It’s a nice experience,” safety Armani Watts said of attending SEC Media Days. “Not too many people get to do this and get to represent their university, so I am pretty blessed to be here.”

A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin acknowledged athletic director Scott Woodward’s comments this past May that Sumlin must win this season, noting he drives himself more than anyone else.

“Nobody puts more pressure on me than I put on myself and nobody wants to win more than I want to,” Sumlin said. “Nothing is going to change the way I approach life, and nothing is going to change the way I approach my job. I’ve known what’s at stake ever since I got into this.”

Sumlin’s signal-caller who will lead his team this season has still not been decided, but Sumlin said he is hoping to name a starting quarterback by the second week of fall camp.

“[There is] not really a front-runner right now. I think I know that all three guys are really capable,” Sumlin said.  “You guys have seen Jake Hubenak… I see him right now as a mature guy that understands that he wants it. [Nick Starkel] can throw it through the wall, [he] could have played for us last year after Trevor got hurt.  And then Kellen Mond… Really a phenomenal athlete, one of the top guys in the country coming out of [high school.]”

The fall camp start date is expected to be announced Monday and will begin earlier this year due to the elimination of two-a-day practices.

“There’s been a lot of changes in the rules,” Sumlin said. “Every coach is approaching it differently based on the difference in your summer school schedule where it makes it difficult to have a true football camp.”

Sumlin added that the Aggies now have 100 percent of their 2017 signees enrolled in school.

“All 29 are in summer school,” Sumlin said. “With the number of guys that went pro early and the other guys that left, we were able to sign 29 this year which was big for us.”

One of those signees, wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon has turned heads since enrolling early in January and some believe the true freshman could be a key contributor on offense this fall.

A&M’s lone veteran receiver put it on his shoulders to see out Ausbon’s expected production.

“He’s very ready physically, mentally, he has a great work ethic,” wide receiver Christian Kirk said. “It’ll be especially on me that he’s used to the physical contact, going through the right recovery, preparation because that’s one of the biggest challenges as a freshman is having your body make it through the whole season.”

Kirk added he expects good things from their returning receivers who had minimal playing time in previous years.

The addition of new strength coach Mark Hocke drew major attention from both players and coaches. The switch is one that the Aggies hope can help them finish strong in the second half of the season.

“We do more position specific stuff as we’re lifting and running,” offensive tackle Koda Martin said of the coaching change. “They include things that are specific to the offensive line. We’ll be doing stuff in a stance, stuff in pass steps, with run steps. We have position coaches within the strength staff.”

Sumlin said he feels confident in his offensive line’s ability upfront, headed by Martin, despite losing starting tackles Jermaine Eluemunor and Avery Gennesy.

“We got more starts coming back in our offensive line even by losing two tackles,” Sumlin said. “We had more starts coming back in the offensive line than we had last year.”

Sumlin also noted that starting cornerback Nick Harvey may take a medical redshirt after suffering a knee injury during a scrimmage in the spring. Harvey had immediate surgery following the injury in the spring.

“We’ll see when we get to camp,” Sumlin said of Harvey’s status. “I don’t foresee him being able to go, could be a redshirt situation, but we’ll make that decision in the fall.”

Harvey’s injury leaves open spots up for grabs in the secondary.

“We’re working hard right now in offseason,” Watts said of the secondary. “Everybody’s competing for a job because everybody’s job is open, so it’s a nice group we have now with the younger guys that came in ready.”

Even with doubts, the 8-5 narrative has gotten old for both coaches and players and some believe they can win a championship.

“I’d say the sky is the limit for us,” Watts said. “We haven’t played yet, everybody is a new team, and we know when we do, what we’re capable of. For us, we want to be able to win the SEC Championship and go on to the national championship, be a top-tier program that we are. We want to be on top of the SEC.”

Texas A&M kicks off its 2017 season against UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. on September 3.

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