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Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Practice notes: Depth developing on D-line

By Sam Khan Jr.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Junior defensive end Damontre Moore is one of Texas A&M's best pass-rushers and showed that last year by recording 8.5 sacks, second on the team. That ability was also readily apparent on Saturday during the Aggies' first full, open scrimmage of fall training camp.

Texas A&M's Damontre Moore
Texas A&M is looking for more consistent play from defensive end Damontre Moore.
But it's not just all about sacks for the 6-foot-4, 250-pound veteran. Coach Kevin Sumlin said that while he enjoys the production Moore brings, he wants to see improvement in other areas.

"He is a guy that has made big plays," Sumlin said. "I think the problem with him is kind of a feast or famine deal, that he's made big plays but has showed the ability to hurt the football team with contain issues, jumping offsides, hasn't been able to stay (up) ... you look out there and he's flopping around on the ground. So he's a guy that we've got to corral. He's got to understand his role and become an every-down player that's consistent and not just (having) a great play and then we don't see you, and then a maybe a penalty."

Moore is part of a defensive line that Sumlin said is improving in terms of depth compared to where the Aggies sat at that position after spring practice.

With some shuffling, it appears that the Aggies are making progress in that department, particularly at defensive tackle where Kirby Ennis and Jonathan Mathis are working with the first team and as many as four others are seeing work behind those two. Senior Spencer Nealy and redshirt freshman Shayvion Hatten figure in behind those two with true freshmen Polo Manukainiu and Alonzo Williams also getting work there.

At the other defensive end spot, true freshman Julien Obioha continues to shine and is battling with sophomore Gavin Stansbury with true freshman Tyrone Taylor developing behind Moore.

"Those young guys have come in and done a nice job from an effort standpoint, have really, really pushed our veterans and given us a change of pace outside," Sumlin said. "So we basically have a whole new D-line than we had in spring, which (defensive line) coach (Terry) Price is happy about, but Coach Price is not getting a whole bunch of sleep. His hair is falling out and his eyes are red because he's working like crazy trying to get the proper match, the proper rotation.

"I think out of that group, we're not where we need to be, but I think we feel a lot better than we did leaving spring football when you can rotate that group in there and be able to play in the league that we're getting ready to play in."

• Secondary coach Marcel Yates called the battle at cornerback a "four or five man race" on Tuesday. The candidates? Dustin Harris, De'Vante Harris, Deshazor Everett, Floyd Raven and Tramain Jacobs.

"Those five guys are going to be our core guys," Yates said. "These next two weeks, they need to figure out who's going to be the guy to take that plunge and be the two guys that are going to start. They all want to start, which is great for me, because it keeps every guy on their toes and going hard.

As for De'Vante Harris, the only true freshman among the five named and a player who has been impressing the coaches in camp, Yates said "He's a playmaker."

• In the last two seasons, safety Steven Campbell has battled several injuries that have caused him to miss portions of each season, including a foot injury that caused him to miss the final four games of last season. Now a senior, the 6-foot-1, 201-pounder said he feels good in fall training camp and is looking forward to productive year.

"I don't really like giving percentages, but I feel pretty good," Campbell said. "I'm close. It's healed, but I've just got to deal with some soreness."

Sumlin said he keeps a close eye on Campbell in practice.

"He's been good," Sumlin said. "We have to keep an eye on him with that foot. Anytime it looks like he's going to limp, I probably pull him out. I'm a little bit protective of him."

Fellow senior safety Steven Terrell said he is pleased to have Campbell back on the field.

"It's a lot more fun," Terrell said. "We all compete and things like that. Just having another senior out there, leadership-wise, and going over the plays and communicating with each other, it's good. I'm glad to have him back. I've always wanted it to be me and him back there but things haven't always worked out. He's healthy now so it's great to have him back."