Texas A&M football: 10 things I want to see this spring
After the way last season played out we could hardly wait for spring practice to begin in College Station. A complete reversal of the late-season collapses that haunted Texas A&M football year after year is now a thing of the past. Jimbo Fisher has brought a new attitude, a working formula for winning, and we just can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next in Aggieland.
Spring practice opened Wednesday, with the annual spring game set for April 13.
There are any number of things to be excited about and here are 10 things I want to see this spring.
1. Continued development of QB Kellen Mond
This guy just got better as the season wore on. His performance against LSU was eye-opening and the way he directed the Aggies to their 52-13 trouncing of N.C. State in the Gator Bowl was also quite impressive. He was one of 6 SEC QBs to throw for 3,000 yards last season and should only continue to improve under Fisher’s tutelage and that makes for a very exciting spring.
2. Who will emerge on the DL?
We know Justin Madubuike will play tackle, but who will emerge to surround him? Tyree Johnson has some experience on the edge and Jayden Peevy displayed his talents especially later in the season. So there’s talent along the line, just not a lot of experience and depth. How the defensive line shakes out will be interesting to keep an eye on. A minor cartilage tear in the knee has put 5-star recruit DeMarvin Leal on the sidelines. The freshman is expected to be ready for fall camp. But Michael Clemons is fully healed from a foot injury that kept him out for the entire 2018 season.
3. LBs must step up
This is perhaps the area of most concern. Buddy Johnson saw action at LB last season, but there isn’t a lot of experience past that. How this position shakes out this spring could be the most intriguing and certainly one that will draw a great amount of interest among Aggies fans.
4. Who will be the next big-name back?
Is Jashaun Corbin ready to be that guy? He might have to be; his 61 carries are the most of any returning player on the roster. Nobody else carried it more than 10 times. Will 4-star recruit Isaiah Spiller emerge as a true freshman? How about UCF transfer Cordarrian Richardson? These are the questions we can’t wait to have answered this spring.
5. Sternberger left big shoes to fill
Tight end is a critical position in Fisher’s offense, and Jace Sternberger filled that role nicely. But who will step up and fill the void left behind by the Aggies’ leading receiver? Baylor Cupp and Jalen Wydermyer are a couple of 4-star recruits with a golden opportunity to step in right away as true freshmen. There will be a lot of eyes on that duo as they look to impress and make an immediate impact.
6. Receivers catch the football
The football will be flying inside of Kyle Field this season. With the return of Mond and a receiving corps that includes the likes of Quartney Davis, Jhamon Ausbon, Kendrick Rogers and Camron Buckley, another 3,000-yard passing season seems very likely. It’s as talented a receiving corps as any and one that should get a lot of attention not only this spring, but on into the fall as well.
7. Who will play center?
The offensive line has talent and some experience, but there’s still a big hole to fill at center. How this position is filled this spring and how the newcomer jells with the remainder of the offensive line will be a key factor in how the Aggies are able to move the football in 2019. Ryan McCollum and Colton Prater are the frontrunners to win this all important position.
8. Continuity in the coaching staff
A year under their collective belts, Fisher’s coaching staff returns nearly intact and that continuity should pay dividends in 2019. The only new member to the staff, tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley, comes over from Missouri and will be tasked with developing a position that became vital to the Aggies’ offense last season.
9. Improvement in the secondary
With a year of experience, the secondary looks to improve, especially at the corners with Debione Renfro, Myles Jones, and Charles Oliver. A dismal 12th in the SEC against the pass a year ago, watching the improvement from this position will be a main focus.
10. How much better can Braden Mann get?
The All-American punter led the nation with a 51-yard average over 50 punts last season. That’s also the NCAA record. Not a bad way to break onto the scene. What can Mann do for an encore? If he just keeps pace with last season’s record-setting season, he’ll be play a major factor once again in the Aggies’ success.