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

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

The Battalion

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Up to Speed: Aggies welcome newcomers and new positions

Photo by By Alex Miller

Freshman quarterback Kellen Mond makes a read during on-air offensive team drills.

Texas A&M lost many key pieces from its 2016 team, so it is no surprise that things looked a little different when the Aggies opened Fall Camp last Friday.

“We’ve got a lot of new guys out there. We probably should have gone with the name on the helmets deal,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said after Friday’s practice. “The goal right now is to get as many guys evaluated and get those reps.”

For almost one-fourth of the 85 scholarship players, Friday was the first time they strapped up in the maroon and white.

“For those young guys, we’ve got to get them up to speed where we can evaluate who they are and how they can help this team, whether it’s special teams or in a back-up role,” Sumlin said.

Veterans, however, noted that it has not taken long for the newcomers to get on the same page.

“The young guys are growing faster than probably any freshmen we’ve had,” senior safety Armani Watts said after Saturday’s practice. “They’re really taking heed of what coach is saying and listening to me, [Donovan Wilson] and the older guys, really listening and showing it on the field.”

While Watts heads an experienced secondary unit, his close friend junior wide receiver Christian Kirk has spent the offseason molding a youthful receiving corps as the group’s lone returning starter.

“They all have that mindset that they want to come in and play,” Kirk said on Saturday. “They know the opportunity is there and there are spots to be filled.”

Newcomers will see the field out wide in 2017, but freshman wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon may have the biggest impact of them all. After enrolling early in January, Kirk believes Ausbon is ready to compete on the perimeter in the perilous SEC.

“His maturity level mentally is where it needs to be to play in this league,” Kirk said. “The biggest thing for him is staying healthy. I was talking to him about it the other day on how he has to take his rehab so seriously, because once we get in that midseason gauntlet it really starts taking a toll on your body… That’s the biggest thing he’s going to have to focus on if he wants to have a successful season.”

Familiar faces return up front on the offensive line, but offensive line coach Jim Turner’s bunch has been shuffled around.

“Everybody’s kind of in a little bit different spot, but we’re meshing well so it’s good to get rhythm with those guys and looking forward to over the next 30 days, everything with fit in like a puzzle,” junior offensive tackle Koda Martin said on Sunday. “Everybody who’s in a new spot is there for a reason and we trust Coach Turner.”

The notable change in the trenches is sophomore Colton Prater moving to center with Erik McCoy sliding to guard. Sumlin described McCoy as a natural guard and Martin is confident the redshirt sophomore will be successful in his new spot.

“As a tackle playing next to him, he knows the game, technique is good, he’s always doing things right where it makes life a little easier on me,” Martin said. “When we have a good play together, it’s nice to know that you have a player who has a bright future next to you. He’s absolutely going to do big things in the future.”

On the defensive line, ends coach Terry Price has been spotted working one-on-one during individual drills with JUCO-transfer Micheal Clemons, who will be looked upon to fill in the shoes of the departed Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall.

“He’s a second-semester summer guy, so he missed June, the four weeks and we have to be careful conditioning and trying to get him in condition, but also not wearing him out because there wasn’t much going on out at Cisco [JC],” Sumlin said. “He’s very talented and just to get him up to speed with what’s going on. It’s going to take a little extra effort.”

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