Texas A&M Aggies: Ben Compton

Editor's note: This is the fourth part of a weeklong series looking at five position battles to watch in spring practice, which begins Feb. 28 for Texas A&M.

Though Texas A&M is saying goodbye to another likely top-10 NFL draft pick from its offensive line, the Aggies expect to have a strong unit up front once again in 2014.

[+] EnlargeCedric Ogbuehi
AP Photo/Aaron M. SprecherMoving Cedric Ogbuehi to left tackle will open another spot on the offensive line.
Jake Matthews, the Aggies’ left tackle in 2013, graduated and is projected to be a high selection in the 2014 NFL draft, but he’s the only starter the Aggies lose off their offensive line. Four others -- Cedric Ogbuehi, Jarvis Harrison, Mike Matthews and Germain Ifedi-- return.

That means there will be a battle for one spot on the offensive line: right tackle.

That’s where Ogbuehi lined up last season but he is making the transition to left tackle for the 2014 season. With the Aggies returning Harrison at left guard, Mike Matthews at center and Ifedi at right guard, one of the most-watched battles in spring football will be at right tackle.

The early contenders are likely to be two new prospects on campus: Jermaine Eluemunor and Avery Gennesy. The pair of ESPN JC 50 prospects signed by the Aggies in their 2014 recruiting class were mid-term enrollees who have been on campus since classes began in January.

Gennesy, who signed from East Mississippi Community College, is 6-foot-5, 310, good size for the position, and he plays with good strength. The four-star prospect had several notable offers, including Tennessee, Ole Miss and Kentucky, as well as perennial powers from outside the SEC like Ohio State and Oklahoma.

Eluemunor, native of England, was also heavily-recruited nationally. With roughly two dozen offers, including ones from Alabama, Ohio State, Nebraska, Tennessee, USC and UCLA, the 6-foot-4, 315 pound four-star prospect can play both guard and tackle.

But those are not the only two options, especially if offensive line coach B.J. Anderson is willing to shuffle the offensive line up some. Ifedi, who checks in at 6-5, 311, would be an intriguing possibility to slide from right guard to right tackle. Harrison, who played two games at left tackle when Ogbuehi was injured last season and Matthews flipped to right tackle briefly, has playing experience at a tackle position, so it wouldn’t be out of the question to move Harrison over to right tackle.

In those instances, that would mean a potential new starter at one of the guard positions. Ben Compton, the backup at center last season, would be a potential option to compete for the right guard spot and Garrett Gramling, who started two games in Harrison’s place at left guard when Harrison slid to left tackle, would make sense if the Aggies moved Harrison to tackle for the season.

Joseph Cheek, a 6-7, 300-pound junior, was second on the Aggies’ depth chart at right tackle last season behind Ogbuehi and would be another name to keep in mind if the coaching staff isn’t satisfied with the aforementioned names.

But for now, with spring practice slightly more than a week away, look for Eluemunor and Gennesy to be the first players to get a shot at the starting job at right tackle. It should make for an interesting competition.

Aggie Snapshot: OL Ben Compton 

July, 12, 2013
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During the summer, GigEmNation will take a closer look at returning starters and other key players on the two-deep for Texas A&M -- excluding the Aggies' 2013 recruiting class -- who could make notable impact this fall in our Aggie Snapshot series. Starting with No. 1 De'Vante Harris, the series will follow the roster numerically through our final analysis of No. 95 Julien Obioha.

No. 68 Ben Compton
Junior guard/center


Cameron ClearDenzel Wright With his size, tight end Cameron Clear would add a different dimension to the Aggies' offense.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M kicked off spring practice for the 2013 season on Saturday and with it comes new players in new roles, new expectations and plenty of other changes.

Many of those changes could be seen on the initial 2013 depth chart released by head coach Kevin Sumlin. There are some absent names because of injuries and there's a long way to go before definitive statements can be made, but it certainly gives us some players and things to keep an eye on moving forward. Among them:


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Spring primer: Five players to watch 

February, 28, 2013
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Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has dominated the headlines since last fall, but the Aggies had quite a bit of talent around the Heisman Trophy winner. Some of the Aggies key players last seasons were ones that the college football world knew little, if anything, about prior to last season. Guys such as receiver Mike Evans, Ben Malena and Howard Matthews wound up playing key roles during the Aggies' memorable 11-2 campaign.

So which returnees could be the breakout players of 2013? Here are five names to keep an eye on heading into Texas A&M spring practice, which begins on Saturday:

[+] EnlargeBen Compton
AP PhotoBen Compton's ability to play center or guard puts him in position to make a move this spring.
Ben Compton -- The 6-foot-4, 307-pound Compton made the move from center to guard last season and saw action in all 13 games. Though primarily a reserve guard, he does have the ability to play center, so expect him to be in the mix to battle for a starting spot somewhere on the interior offensive line. With Cedric Ogbuehi moving from right guard to right tackle, Compton could slide in as his successor at right guard.

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Position breakdown: Offensive line 

February, 20, 2013
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In a matter of months, former Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel could be hearing his name be among the first called by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the NFL draft.

[+] EnlargeJake Matthews
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesJake Matthews' return to College Station for his senior season calmed a lot of Texas A&M nerves.
And while Joeckel (and teammate Damontre Moore, who is also projected to be a high-first round pick) will make Aggies everywhere proud, it's the offensive tackle that didn't enter the draft who has Texas A&M fans breathing a little easier when it comes to 2013.


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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- In the SEC, there's no shortage of quality defensive linemen. And most of them are big, fast and physical.

Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury said one of the first things he notices about SEC defenses is "the violence" those units play with.
[+] EnlargeLewis
Cal Sport Media Patrick Lewis has been a stalwart on the Aggies line but had to learn the new offense pretty quickly.

So as the Aggies embark on their first season in the league, it seems fitting that the strength of their offense lies with the offensive line.

The unit returns 95 total starts among the group, 92 of which come from the quintet listed first on the depth chart at each position. The junior tandem of tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews is one of the nation's best and the Aggies also have tons of experience at center with Patrick Lewis, who has started 35 consecutive games.

The two guard spots will likely be filled by two from the trio of sophomore Jarvis Harrison, junior Shep Klinke and sophomore Cedric Ogbuehi, each of which also have starting experience.

But just because the group has plenty of playing time under its belt doesn't mean there hasn't been an adjustment period for the unit. Like the rest of the Aggies' offense, the linemen have had to become accustomed to playing at the high tempo that is the signature of coach Kevin Sumlin's and Kingsbury's offense.

"Spring was tough," offensive line coach B.J. Anderson said. "(Director of sports performance) Larry Jackson as y'all know, he's as good as there is. Coming out of the summer program as a staff, we're really pleased now with how they're executing the tempo. We've got to keep getting better, but for three days of insertion, we're pleased."

The biggest adjustment has arguably been for Lewis, a three-year starter from Reserve (La.) East St. John. The 6-foot-2, 312 Lewis has not just had to adjust to the tempo of the offense, but also additional responsibilities when it comes to calling protections.

Lewis said it has taken time, but he has gotten better with time and repetition.

"It's pretty difficult," Lewis said. "I have to make sure the points go out, make sure the running back knows who they're blocking, make sure the offensive line knows who we're working to and it's a big communication deal as far as making sure everybody knows who they're blocking. The fast tempo it all kind of gets to you. It's real mind-boggling at first but then you settle down, you get the hang of it and then it's a walk in the park."

The competition at guard will be worth keeping an eye on. It appears that Ogbuehi will figure in as the starting right guard, a spot where he started as a redshirt freshman in 2011. At left guard, Harrison and Klinke are battling, but Klinke had the benefit of 15 spring practices, while Harrison sat out with an injury. Sumlin said Klinke had "a solid spring" but that he's also happy to see the 6-4 Harrison back on the field during camp.

"Jarvis coming back adds some real mass and girth in there at 330 or whatever he is, but he's behind," Sumlin said. "You can tell the 15 practices that he missed in the spring, the other guys have moved on. And with a knee injury, and a guy that big, conditioning is always a factor. He's got to get to where he needs to be from a conditioning standpoint and from a mental standpoint so that he can play. We're working hard at that but I'm definitely glad to get him back."

Icon SMI
Texas A&M gets a solid pair of tackles including LT Luke Joeckel.



Matthews said he and Joeckel pushed each other this summer.

"I love going against him," Matthews said of Joeckel, a first-team All-Big 12 selection last year. "I always want to work out with him, run with him, we're always pushing each other. So going against him is one of the biggest things that helped me these past few summers, especially this last one with coach Jackson and the emphasis on high tempo and always moving. He's just a guy, just a good buddy, a good guy to workout with and we both learn a lot from each other and he's beneficial to have."

There is also young talent waiting in the wings. Sophomore center Ben Compton will get to work at guard during fall camp and the three true freshmen: Germain Ifedi, Mike Matthews and Kimo Tipoti, are receiving praise from coaches and players alike.

"Germain, first of all, that guy's bigger than ever," Jake Matthews said. "He's huge. He's going to be a great player, he just needs to understand the game a little more, get to know the offense better. Kimo, him too, big guy, great feet, the main thing with all of them is just getting comfortable. They all just have to get used to this offense and realize what it takes to go at this tempo."

Mike Matthews, the younger brother of Jake Matthews, looks like he'll get the chance to be the team's backup center this season, according to Sumlin. With Lewis being a senior, Sumlin wants someone ready to step into that role next season.

"My feeling is, a year from now with Pat being gone ... that if (Mike Matthews) can handle it, I'd rather him travel and be the backup center and play in games and have three years to start as a center than have a brand new center next year who has never been in a game and do that," Sumlin said. "There's some people who would say that's crazy but I think if you start in the SEC for three years at his position, that's pretty d--- good."

Current and future: Offensive line 

July, 31, 2012
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As fall practice and the 2012 season approaches, GigEmNation will take a look at where the Aggies stand currently and in the future at each position group. Today, we glance at the offensive line:

Current starters: Jarvis Harrison, Luke Joeckel, Patrick Lewis, Jake Matthews, Cedric Ogbuehi
[+] EnlargeTexas A&M's Jacke Joeckel
Mark J. Rebilas/US PRESSWIRETackle Luke Joeckel will anchor A&M's offensive line, which could be one of the best in the country.

This crop should be among the strongest starting offensive lines nationally, particularly at tackle with the combination of Joeckel and Matthews, a pair of future NFL draft picks. All five have starting experience and only one (Lewis) is a senior. The quintet has started a combined 92 games, with Lewis leading the way (35 consecutive starts). Ogbuehi had a good redshirt freshman season at right guard but missed some time because of injuries. Harrison started five games as a redshirt freshman last year, four of which came in place of an injured Ogbuehi.

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