Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Ifedi emerging as RT candidate at A&M
By Sam Khan Jr.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- With four returning starters, the offensive line is a position group the Texas A&M coaches feel good about.
But the battle to be the right tackle, the lone starting spot up for grabs, is one of the most intriguing storylines of spring practice.
One name that continues to surface is sophomore Germain Ifedi, who worked at right tackle again on Tuesday when the Aggies resumed practice after taking a week off for spring break.
Rising sophomore Germain Ifedi is angling to be Texas A&M's right tackle, moving outside from right guard.
Last season, Ifedi started every game at right guard. With right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi moving to left tackle, Ifedi has made it clear he's interested in the possibility of following in Ogbuehi's footsteps and sliding outside.
"He likes playing tackle," Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said of Ifedi. "We'll see. He's competing, and the way he's playing right now, he really doesn't want to give it up."
Sumlin noted Ifedi's efforts to stay in shape. The 6-foot-5 lineman has tipped the scales as high as 340 pounds in the past but trimmed down when he entered the starting lineup last season. He checked in this week at 327 pounds.
"I was on him a little bit about his weight and he pulled his shirt up and his belly wasn't hanging over," Sumlin said with a smile. "He's catching up with his body."
Ifedi's emergence allows the Aggies to shift players around on the offensive line, including the pair of junior-college transfers who began spring competing for the right tackle job: Jermaine Eluemunor and Avery Gennesy.
"It's given us an opportunity to really take the two new junior-college guys and put them with the twos so they can really hone in and learn," Sumlin said.
With starting left guard Jarvis Harrison sitting out while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, the Aggies have also inserted Garrett Gramling -- who started two games at left guard last season -- at Harrison's position for the spring and veteran tackle Joseph Cheek at Ifedi's old right guard spot.
Sumlin stressed that with Harrison, "we know what he can do," and he said he fully expects Harrison healthy and ready for preseason training camp in August. But Ifedi's emergence as a competitor to be the right tackle opens up several possibilities for 2014.
"The thing about the offensive line is you want to create what we call a nickel, and not five pennies," Sumlin said. "The five best guys aren't always the best O-line. [It's] the guys who can communicate and the guys who can play. We'll figure that out.
"I think the experience that Germain is getting at tackle gives us some real different combinations without having to put an inexperienced player on the field right away at South Carolina."