Winners From Scrimmage
1. Devante Harris
There is no better pure cover man at Texas A&M than true freshman Devante Harris. Not only did he start getting most of the first team reps, but he is also being utilized on special teams. Now, he is still skinny so he'll be susceptible to bigger receivers but this kid is special. He's cocky and confident, something rare in the first week of a player's freshman year.
2. Trey Williams
Yeah, what was that about durability? Trey Williams is the entire package. He can cut on a dime and outrun anybody. We knew that. But what he showed at the scrimmage is that his short, muscular body seems to bounce off tacklers. He's tough to bring down in traffic, but he has breakaway speed. Today's scrimmage won't push him past Christine Michael, but it definitely puts him as No. 1B. Going into the week, we were thinking of Williams as a clear No. 2 who would be a change of pace guy. No, he'll be a workhorse. No, make that race horse. No, make that Secretariat! He's the real deal, gentlemen.
3. Deshazor Everett
I love Everett. He's a football player, and he'll be one of A&M's best defensive backs whether he plays cornerback or safety. IN reality, he'll play both, depending on the opponent and injuries. With Devante Harris emerging as a playmaker at corner, that gives the staff the flexibility to move Everett where he's needed most. Everett showed today that he's a very good football player. Not only has he earned time on the field, but he'll be a difference maker.
4. Malcolme Kennedy
This guy is just smooth and steady. He's Cris Carter....he just makes plays. With Kenric McNeal out this fall, Kennedy has taken advantage of the opportunity this fall. With Ryan Swope out today, |Kennedy was the go-to receiver with eight catches for roughly 75 yards. He's not going to be a headliner, but he's positioning himself as a valued under-the-radar guy that quietly makes plays.
5. Spencer Nealy
In his younger days, observers chuckled at his infectious excitement and his "wacky" energy level. But this week as a senior, his energy is carrying a unit that needs to be carried. Even after a position change, Nealy still had a great day giving the first team OL fits and registering a sack and several tackles at the line of scrimmage.
6. Damontre Moore
Moore has slowly matured over the past year and it has culminated in a steady, uneventful fall...which is a good thing. Today, he had a big sack against the No. 1 offense on the first possession of the game to force a punt. He seemed to get pressure in the backfield. Along with Nealy, Moore's performance today positions him to be one of the leaders of this defensive unit.
7. Johnny Manziel
Manziel needed a good scrimmage in a close battle to lead this offense, and he delivered. Last spring, Jameill Showers took control of the competition and looked poised to lead the Aggies in 2012. But to his credit, Manziel worked hard and retooled his delivery with the help of an outside QB mentor in the offseason. He also bulked up and looks more durable than he did in the spring. All of this work was validated with a 215 yard, 3 TD performance, and as a result of this scrimmage, the starting spot is realistically within his grasp.
8. Derel Walker
Hobbled in the spring, the JUCO didn't do much in the spring to gain much attention and he was buried in the main pack of receivers as the fall practices kicked off. He didn't look much better in the first couple of practices, but from my observations the light bulb went off earlier this week and that momentum carried over to the scrimmage. He had a couple of touchdowns and several big catches over the middle. On one incredible play, he made a tough catch in traffic and did a great job gaining extra yards with a second and third effort as he was smelling the goal line but Tramain Jacobs stripped the ball and recovered it. That was the lone blemish on what otherwise was a breakout game. Today's performance won't win him a starting job, but he is positioned to jump into the rotation and get playing time.
9. Julien Obioha
He's a very nice athlete and when given the opportunity to run with the second team DL today, he did a solid job and he stayed out there with the No. 2's.
10. Tyrell Taylor
Taylor is probably the best natural pass rusher on the roster and he didn't disappoint today. He's a situational guy, so you won't see him on the field a lot...but he is starting to emerge as that designated outside rush entity. Aside from that, on one play they faked the blitz and he dropped in coverage and looked pretty good. He has a bright future....you have to wonder why his true freshman year was wasted last year.
Guys That Missed an Opportunity to Make a Statement
1. Both Punters
My goodness...another season and still this program doesn't have a punter they can count on to pop a nice, high 42 yard punt. Of the 7-8 punts on the day, one (Epperson) was acceptable.
2. Jameill Showers
Showers didn't have a bad day, but he also had the opportunity to close the door on the competition in this first week and could have had his coronation today...and that obviously didn't happen. He's struggling a little (not a lot) with the tempo of the offense in terms of his reads, and that will need to improve in the next week if he hopes to get the job. Today definitely opened the door for Johnny Manziel, and it also gave Matt Joeckel a second life.
3. Brandon Alexander
We under-estimated the time he was away from College Station this summer, because he was sluggish today. He was also running with the third team, and didn't do anything to move up the depth chart.
4. Nehemiah Hicks/Kenric McNeal
These guys didn't participate, so I'm sure some of you are wondering how their "performance" affected their status on the team. Well, McNeal has been out every day except one and not being out there means he's falling behind. Hicks looks the part when he's out there, but right when you start to get excited about him, he shows up on the sidelines with an injury. In his career, he seems to miss critical scrimmages every year. He had an opportunity to define his role in this offense given his unique size and hands, but it's hard to make a mark when you are hurt.
5. Sabian Holmes
Normally, I wouldn't put a true freshman on a list like this but we heard so much buzz about his offseason workouts and 7-on-7 performances. Players were saying Holmes would battle for a starting job, and I just don't think he's ready. He has a solid skill set and he's a solid player, but I haven't seen the explosion and athleticism that we heard about this offseason. Holmes had some solid catches, but mainly 8-10 yard out routes with little opportunity for yards after the catch.
6. Donnie Baggs
It may be unfair of me to put Donnie Baggs on the list, because I thought as a whole the linebackers were not physical. Given the new muscular physiques and imposing size of this unit compared to recent A&M LB units, I was expecting some big plays and some big hits. I listed Baggs because he personified my observations of the unit as a whole. He came in much bigger and physically impressive and he had several opportunities to lay some big hits in today's scrimmage but he had a few partial misses. His performance wasn't bad by any stretch, but I was really hoping to see Baggs and the linebackers establish a physical style of play and for the most part it didn't happen today.
7. Steven Campbell
He played the first couple of series and then was given the rest of the day off. I know that was the plan, but this defense needs to generate leaders and playmakers and Campbell hasn't played much in two years. I was hoping to see him play more and push for a leadership role. Even though it was by design, I was disappointed to see him watching 90% of the scrimmage from the sidelines. Okay, it's not his fault and probably doesn't deserve to be on this list, but I thought it was important for Campbell to make a statement that he's back and ready to lead the secondary. Instead, I came away thinking sophomore Deshazor Everett and freshman Devante Harris were the emotional leaders of the secondary.
8. Matt Davis
I debated whether to include the true freshman QB, and I wouldn't have added him if this was his first week of practice. However, he went through 15 workouts in the spring and has been with the team throughout the offseason. I wasn't expecting him to challenge for the starting job, but I was expecting him to push the No. 3 QB and show glimpses of great things to come. Instead, Davis worked a couple of series at the end of the scrimmage with the walk-ons.
9. Kenneth Marshall
Marshall was a mid-term freshman at a position of need at A&M, so expectations were high for him to come in and compete for playing time. The injury bug bit him in the spring and he missed all 15 workouts. He's been participating off and on this fall, still battling the injury. As soon as he gets back on the field, he winds up back on the sideline. He again looked idle on the sideline today, and it's obvious now that he will not be a factor this season.
10. Nate Askew
Nate has had a solid fall, and he made a few short yardage catches today, but he hasn't made a move to battle Mike Evans for the top spot at outside receiver. Askew started his career as a promising big receiver, but going into his junior campaign he's still struggling to get into the starting lineup. He'll be in the rotation and he will see the field, but he had a good opportunity to be the primary outside receiver in the spring, and that goal seems to be an uphill battle right now.
Winners From Saturday's Scrimmage
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