While the Texas A&M football team may not be impressing many fans these days, Kyle Field got its first look at a couple of freshmen on defense this week against Army that could lead to better days down the road.
True freshmen Trent Hunter and Ricky Cavanaugh saw their first meaningful action against Army, and both made a significant contribution—espeically Hunter, who earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors in his first career start.
Hunter racked up a team-high 17 tackles, including 11 solo tackles.
A&M defensive coordinator Joe Kines said that he's excited to see Hunter performing so well after watching the true freshman prepare so well in practice.
"The thing I like about Hunter is everyday is Christmas to him. He loves to play," Kines said. "He hasn't figured out how to take a short cut yet. He goes full speed every snap. We haven't had anybody study as hard and prepare as well as he has and that's great because the result was there. Sometimes you try to tell these youngsters it's what you put into it on Monday through Friday so for him to get that result is really gratifying."
Hunter made a living this week against Army stopping the run, but he'll have a little more on his plate this week against a much more balanced Oklahoma State offense.
When asked if Hunter was up to the task, Kines was his usual blunt self.
"We're going to find out aren't we," Kines said jokingly. "He'll practice hard this week and whatever he can do, he'll do it this week. It's still fun to him. He'd just assume practice as play the game. He's one of the best freshman tacklers. He can tackle the ball carrier. That's a pretty good trait to have for a DB."
Hunter has played in each of the Aggies first games of the season, but Cavanaugh burned his redshirt on Saturday in his first action of his collegiate career, posting three tackles (two solo).
"Every week we talk about where players are, particularly freshmen players," Sherman said on Monday morning. "I want to make sure if we take (someone's redshirt) off, that he's going to play."
The Aggies' lack of depth at linebacker warranted the decision according to Sherman, which will also help get him ready to play next year.
"You learn a lot faster when you're not being redshirted," Sherman said. "Your attention to detail is more intense and we're hoping that happens with him. He has done some nice things in practice that warranted him playing this year."
Sherman said he was impressed with Cavanaugh's play against Army—considering it was his first action at the college level.
"He wasn't challenged a whole lot, but he didn't make a lot of major mistakes. Overall he did a good job," Sherman said. "He didn't have any major busts which is what you worry about playing in that game against that kind of team."
A&M defensive coordinator Joe Kines added that he hopes to push Cavanaugh a little more in practice now that he has taken off the redshirt.
Freshmen make impact on defense
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