It was the same routine today as usual for the first 20 minutes. The team apparently held its first live scrimmage later in the session that we were not privy to, although Sumlin did comment briefly after practice and I'll incorporate as needed.
The injuries are starting to pile up as more and more players are finding themselves on the sidelines. The list of those not participating off the top of my head for various reasons (suspension, offseason surgery, minor injury from spring practice).
I know I missed 2-3 others. That's 12-13 guys...about 10 of those expected to be significant contributors in 2014. So with the spring rosters so low without most of the incoming class yet...numbers are starting to get low out there. But, I must say, in previous years there would be quite a few walk-ons working w the 1's and 2's by now. That's not the case this year. The team is thin, but there's still enough quality scholarship bodies to cover 1st and 2nd unit drills at most positions.
I was watching the receivers and QB's warm up with some fade routes which I've seen many times in spring. Nothing stuck out about the receivers, but I started watching Kyle Allen's passes, and he throws the purest ball of any QB I've seen at A&M. Every ball is a perfect, tight spiral that seems to float in the air and lands softly in the hands of the receiver in stride. He throws a beautiful ball in drills and his mechanics seem flawless to me. Everything is so effortless to him...in drills anyway.
I want to mention Zaycoven Henderson. The true freshman was in a knee brace and noticeably limping coming out of the indoor facility with the other players. As he's walking past, some players start chatting with him and ask if he's hurt why he doesn't sit it out. I can't repeat exactly what he said, but let's just say the PG rated version was "you kidding me, I'm trying to win a job here. I didn't leave high school and all of its senior year perks to stand on the sideline." And that says something right there, because when you watch spring practice, it's usually the same people on the side with minor injuries...and those people usually don't see the field in the fall. Henderson has the mentality you'd like to see in your players. Also, Coach Sumlin mentioned Henderson as a newcomer that will definitely contribute in the fall.
I watched the offensive line go though some blocking assignments. No change in the rotation from yesterday when I listed 1st and 2nd units. I don't know if next year's first unit will be as good as last year's or the year before simply because A&M lost two Top 10 draft picks at tackle. However, this group will be much deeper. Garrett Gramling will go back with the 2's once Harrison returns, but he's become a high level back-up and he's good enough to be starting at 90% of D-1 programs right now. There's still a long way to go, but I've seen enough in Avery Gennessy to know that he's above average in terms of athleticism and blocking ability. Jermaine Eluemunor needs to clean up some things, but I see a contributor in there somewhere. I think Joseph Cheek looks more comfortable at guard than he did at tackle. I think that was a good move.
And I'll leave the most pleasant surprise for last. The kid is going to likely redshirt, but I watched J.J. Gustafson closely at 2nd team left tackle and this kid passes the smell test big-time. I really think he has the potential to be a very good college tackle in his career as long as he remains healthy and his body hold up. Nice, long frame with good weight and he has a nice power slide step and long arms and a good punch. I'll be honest, I had very little expectations for the kid after he sat out with a greyshirt rehabbing his knee. There were reports last summer that he dropped into the 240's with his weight. Nine months ago, this looked like a poor get because of his health and inability to keep his weight. But this kid has fought back and put himself in position to be a very nice college football player.
I watched the punters and kicker before practice. As long as he can show consistency in his final two years, Drew Kaser is going to be an NFL punter. He was firing off boomers all over the place. His leg is so strong, the sound of the ball coming off his foot sounds different than the other punters. I just watched in amazement sheer power he generates and the punts were both high and far. We've come a long way from the little 5-foot-9 guy a few years ago that would kick end-over-end rugby style and hope to get 40 yards after the roll. The other punter, Tripucka, who is a redshirt freshman from Allen, was kicking some boomers as well. A&M should be in good shape for a few years at punter. Taylor Bertolet and Josh Lambo were out there kicking, but you can't take anything away from warm-ups because kicking is all about handling the pressure in game situations so I'll leave it saying that both kickers have strong legs and can range is not a problem. They can both go 50+ yards.
After practice, somebody asked Coach Sumlin if the suspension of Kam Miles means Deshazor Everett is likely to move back to safety. He gave an emphatic "no" saying Everett will stay at corner and he expects his three veterans that played last year (Matthews, Raven, Honeycutt) will get the job done along with the emergence of Devonta Burns and he talked about how Burns has come out with something to prove this spring.
Overall, Sumlin said he's been pleased with the overall effort and energy this spring, and he liked some things he saw in the scrimmage Thursday evening although he wouldn't elaborate. He said he's comfortable with what the team has at receiver and running back. They held out Ricky Seals-Jones from the scrimmage just to be safe even though he's participating full speed in drills. Sumlin said RSJ was not happy about it, and that's how he wants his players to be...it shows they want to be in there.
Hop's Spring Practice Report - Day 5
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