A couple of weeks ago, Texas A&M defensive ends coach Terry Price gave one of his pupils, Julien Obioha, a set of compliments that could be read as backhanded. Price talked up how hard Obioha was working to get up to speed in John Chavis’ defense, raving about Obioha’s technique while saying he was working hard at the more physical aspects of defensive end play — first step, quickness and speed — where he trailed behind his fellow defensive line mates.

For the praise that Price did give Obioha, it sounded like he wasn’t a fit at defensive end in the Aggies’ new defensive system. Obioha is a run-stopper, and Texas A&M will be looking for its defensive ends to terrorize passers.

So what’s a rebuilding defense to do with its most experienced player who no longer fits at his original position? Move him inside.

Obioha himself told the media last week that he’s ready to move inside to defensive tackle as a hybrid player. It sounds like he’ll be manning the end in obvious running situations, then moving inside to give the Aggies a different kind of defensive tackle in passing situations.

With a smile, Obioha referred to himself as an “athletic-type” defensive tackle who will now be rushing the passer against guards and centers instead of tackles. Indeed, the rising senior is going to be on the small side for a DT, listed at 6-foot-4 and just 265 pounds.

While Obioha isn’t the most talented or explosive player on the Aggies defensive line — those designations almost certainly go to defensive end Myles Garrett — he is going to be counted on as a defensive leader in a year the Aggies need a huge turnaround to return to the top of the SEC. To provide on-field leadership, which the Aggies are losing with the departure of Ivan Robinson, Obioha is open to accepting a new role. He said a few weeks ago that everyone has a blank slate, and he’s making the most of that by carving out a new role for himself on what should be an improved defense.

But will he become an every-down player, either at defensive tackle or between there and the edge? That remains up in the air. When Obioha disclosed last week he’d been taking reps at tackle, that was new information. Before that, he’d worked primarily at defensive end. The Aggies will have plenty of talent at both end and tackle this fall, with Garrett, Daeshon Hall and Qualen Cunningham at end and Alonzo Williams, Zaycoven Henderson and incoming freshman Daylon Mack at defensive tackle.

Obioha has a leg up due to his experience and technique, and with his instincts and abilities a transition inside seem to make sense. No matter his role, Obioha is going to be an important leader for the defense. Whether he can become an effective player at defensive tackle, either as a starter or a rotational player, is a question we’ll see answered when the Aggies return to the field.