Spring practice is winding down in College Station. Texas A&M will hold its annual spring game at 2 p.m. ET Saturday at Kyle Field.
There are still a few areas Aggies fans remain a bit anxious about. Obviously, quarterback is at the top of that list. Here are five things I want to see happen Saturday:
1. A quarterback emerge – Last season, graduate transfer Trevor Knight walked on campus and took charge of the offense from Day 1. It was that kind of leadership that got the Aggies on the right track to start the 2016 season. It would be nice for one of the top candidates to emerge as the starter coming out of spring practice. It doesn’t appear as though that’s happening. Jake Hubenak is the only quarterback in camp who has actually started a college game, and he’s only started a few. Redshirt freshman Nick Starkel has the arm to be a good one, and true freshman Kellen Mond is a dual-threat quarterback who has gotten some praise already. But the quarterback who fits OC Noel Mazzone’s offense best will be under center in 2017.
2. Receivers jell – While a new full-time starter will call signals for the Aggies this fall, it’ll be a new set of receivers he’ll be throwing to as well. Sure, All-Everything Christian Kirk returns and will certainly be the go-to guy, but for the first time in several years there aren’t a plethora of experienced receivers waiting on the other end of the football. Gone are stalwarts Josh Reynolds, Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil, all three-year starters. While a group of freshmen vie for playing time, it will be interesting to see what Oregon transfer Kirk Merritt does with a new quarterback. Someone has to step up and take some of the weight off of Kirk’s shoulders.
3. Improved linebacker play – This is a must if the Aggies have any intentions of being a factor in the SEC West this season. Otaro Alaka returns but must remain healthy. Richard Moore and Tyrel Dodson must step up their games as well for Texas A&M to be a force defensively.
4. What will the bookends look like? – Granted nobody expects defensive end replacements for Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall to have the same skill sets. But we anxiously wait to see just who or how the Aggies compensate for the sizable loss. On top of that, Texas A&M has just three scholarship players at the position. Jarrett Johnson, who collected 4.5 sacks last season, leads the group. Qualen Cunningham, who registered one sack last season, and Landis Durham round out the group.
5. RBs run with authority – Trayveon Williams, the first-ever Aggies true freshman to rush for more than 1,000 yards, could hit the mark again this season running behind an experienced offensive line. The 1-2 punch with bruiser Keith Ford could be fun to watch. It’s a deep group of capable running backs with Kendall Bussey and Kwame Etwi also in the mix. It will be interesting to see how Mazzone uses what should be a solid ground game in the face of developing a new starting quarterback.