Observations of Day Two Practice

The Texas A&M football team concluded day two of fall workouts in shorts and helmets. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop was out at practice for the mandated 20 minutes and provides his daily insights.

I'll keep it brief, but I first want to discuss the coaches' post practice press conference and their comments about what they've seen. Coach Sumlin announced that Hutson Prioleau has retired from football and will graduate at the end of the year on scholarship. Also, Brandal Jackson is on the team but was not included on the preseason 105 roster. That means he can start practicing when school starts. Obviously, if they thought he could be a contributor, he would have been included so it doesn't bode well for his senior year. Finally, he announced that next Saturday's scrimmage will be open to the public starting at 11:45 AM.

FYI, I saw A&M RB commit James White at practice. He's about 5-foot-11 with a medium build. He's a taller back, but not necessarily a power back. 2014 OL LaPorte center Mike Leagan was there as well. Hoza Scott was not there.

Frankly, I was surprised at how positive Coach Sumlin was publicly in analyzing the team's performance so far. I expected him to play down the team's ability and be hard on them for public consumption. But he seemed very upbeat praising the retention of the QB's, gushing over Christine Michael and Brandon Williams, and upbeat over the DB's and newcomers at DL.

But that was tame compared to what defensive coordinator Mark Snyder had to say about his defensive unit. In response about his initial thoughts on the incoming freshmen he said, "Yeah I'm pleased. I tell you what, they have some football intelligence. It seems like they are catching on pretty good."

Asked specifically about Jordan Richmond and Michael Richardson, he said, "We've got to get the pads on before we can say for sure what we have, but those two guys are talented. They've got some juice. Both are pretty smart guys and they are picking up what we are throwing at them. Some of the freshman defensive linemen have some juice to their game."

Asked about the youth of the secondary he said, "They need reps. They are talented. It scares me to death because they are raw, but they are very, very talented.

A reporter asked if he liked the carry-over from what was taught in the spring to what they are doing in the fall so far. He said, "The carry-over has been really good. I'm pleased with what we've done the first two days. Today was a really good day for us. We hardly had any busts with day two install."

I asked Snyder about his thoughts on the depth at interior DL and he acknowledged that they may have to slide over either/both Polo Manukainiu and Alonzo Williams. He said they both weigh close to 270 pounds and they need the depth.

And finally, Coach Snyder was asked about conditioning and where this team is compared to the spring. After a chuckle he said, "It's not even close. We can at least finish practice now."

Here are a few of my observations:

1) I watched all of the running backs in the cone drill, and Christine Michael looked great. There's no limitations at all and he's as quick with his feet as ever. He is a grown man out there. Brandon Williams doesn't have the feet of Michael or Trey Williams, but his explosion and acceleration are special. He definitely has that swagger about him. Williams knocked over a few cones in the drills, but it's his second day so I'm not going to mark that against him. Williams' frame looks bigger and he has the room to add even more weight. He's 185 pounds now and I can see him at 195-200 next season with ease. Ben Malena looks much better to me physically. He was too big last season. He's thinner but firmer this fall and he looks much better. He does every drill right. They will find a role for him. He'll play in some capacity.

2) The biggest storyline of watching the receiver unit wasn't the two freshmen: Holmes and Johnson. It was the performance of Mike Evans. He's a different player from last year when he lacked confidence in his ability. Now, he's very confident and plays "slow" meaning he is comfortable with the tempo and makes it look effortless and easy. He catches everything and he can get off the line...not with his quicks and acceleration, but with his strength in his 6-foot-4 body. He focuses on slapping away the DB's arms and physically beating his man at the line. Great hands too...he just practices with an air of confidence and swagger that didn't exist last year.

I like the two freshmen receivers, but they are both small and not physically cut or developed physically for a collegiate player. I think one or both will likely see the field this season, but I'm hearing others say these two could be starting by October and I'm skeptical. If you ask me, a guy like Malcolme Kennedy seems more physically and mentally ready to play this season than the freshmen. He doesn't have the raw speed of the freshmen wideouts, but Kennedy has looked good since the spring of 2010. I also see a guy like senior Uzoma Nwachukwu making a greater impact in 2012 if he stays healthy.

3) Alonzo Williams practiced and by all accounts the staff liked what little they've seen out of Zo. Normally, I'd say he is not big enough to play DT, but with no other options, a 270-pound athletic big man may be forced to play. I was generally pleased with his size and I do agree that he showed some nice moves and ability. The question will be...can he be productive at DT going against SEC OL's? He's between 260-270 lbs. right now.

4) I think the staff hit a jackpot with the incoming DL freshmen that were signed last February. They all need to add bulk, but there is no questioning the body length, athleticism, and the skills to be a good contributor, Add in to the equation that Damontre Moore and Brandon Alexander look great physically, and the future past 2012 will be very bright for Aggie defensive front line.

5) The secondary is filled with great athletes, especially at corner. And if you belief that a now healthy Seven Campbell will stay that way throughout the fall, and this unit is loaded. With DEvante Harris looking like he can play today, and the quiet emergence of Tremain Jacobs, Toney Hurd. The staff is still working out Deshazor Everett at CB, but the coaches need another athletic safety and Everett is big enough to make the switch.


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