Texas A&M Aggies: Germain Ifedi

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M begins preseason training camp today. In about four weeks, they'll take the field at South Carolina to open the 2014 season. Here are some things to watch throughout camp:

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Bob Levey/Getty ImagesFormer three-star recruit Kenny Hill, a sophomore, played in five games last season. Could he be the successor to Johnny Manziel?
1. The quarterback battle: Kenny Hill or Kyle Allen? That's the question that has been asked and will continue to be until coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital make a decision on who the starting quarterback will be on Aug. 28 at South Carolina. Hill, a sophomore, has slightly more experience after seeing some playing time in a backup role last season. Allen, the true freshman, enrolled early in January to catch up. Allen had a solid spring, as did Hill until an arrest for public intoxication caused him to miss the final two scrimmages and the final week of spring practice. But both players were told they were on even footing entering summer 7-on-7 workouts. How much each has progressed in the past three months will be displayed early on in training camp. Expect a decision midway through August.

2. Defensive line depth: The Aggies lost two starting defensive linemen for off-the-field reasons: defensive end Gavin Stansbury (left team for personal reasons) and defensive tackle Isaiah Golden (dismissed after two arrests). For a team that struggled to stop the run last season, that doesn't help as the unit tries to find the quality depth necessary to succeed in the SEC. Fortunately for the Aggies, they get two players who missed spring football because of injuries back for training camp -- sophomore defensive ends Jay Arnold and Daeshon Hall, both of whom saw playing time last season. There are also several veterans (Julien Obioha, Alonzo Williams, Tyrell Taylor) and youngsters (Hardreck Walker, Justin Manning, Zaycoven Henderson) not to mention a few incoming recruits to help the unit, but the Aggies have to find answers quick to improve on a disastrous 2013.

3. Safety play: Sumlin hasn't been shy about saying it and it's true: the Aggies have to get better play from their safeties. They return three players who started last season -- Howard Matthews, Floyd Raven and Clay Honeycutt. Matthews got positive reviews from defensive coordinator Mark Snyder in the spring. Keep an eye on Devonta Burns, who saw time in the spring at safety and nickel cornerback, as someone who could be in the mix. And an influx of 2014 recruits could help here as well.

4. Fabulous freshmen: The Aggies' 2014 class was a top-five haul for a reason. They brought in some big-time talent, so don't be surprised if some of those freshmen make waves quickly in camp. Receiver Speedy Noil already impressed in the spring and will look to build on that this month. Five-star defensive end Myles Garrett is the highest-ranked player nationally the Aggies have signed since Reggie McNeal in the 2002 class. With depth concerns on the defensive line and Garrett's college-ready physique, it's safe to say he'll find a way on the field in short order. Henderson, who was an early enrollee, likely figures into the rotation at defensive tackle. And of course, all eyes are on Allen at quarterback to see if he can win the starting job.

5. Right side of the O-line: Sophomore Germain Ifedi, who started all of 2013 at right guard, saw much time at right tackle during spring drills and is listed as the starter there heading into camp. If that holds, the battle on the offensive line -- a unit that returns four of five starters -- will likely be at right guard where Joseph Cheek saw first-team action and junior college transfer Jermaine Eluemunor saw second-team work in spring. Veteran guard and starter Jarvis Harrison, who missed spring because of shoulder surgery, should be ready to go at left guard. He has a capable backup behind him in Garrett Gramling, who started two games last season and saw virtually all the first-team work at left guard this spring. Left tackle (Cedric Ogbuehi) and center (Mike Matthews) is set in stone.

A few other notes:

" Redshirt freshman cornerback Victor Davis, who was arrested on a shoplifting charge in his hometown of Rosenberg, Texas, last month, is still serving an indefinite suspension. Sumlin said on Wednesday that Davis still has some things to do internally in order to get back in the team's good graces.

" Sumlin noted that every one of the class of 2014 recruits is qualified academically and on campus. Kealvin "Tank" Davis, the Aggies' offensive tackle recruit from Garland (Texas) Lakeview Centennial, was the last player Texas A&M was waiting on in that regard and he arrived on campus Wednesday and will be ready to go. This is the second consecutive year the Aggies have not lost a signee to qualification issues (the 2013 class only had one player who didn't make it to campus, Kohl Stewart, who was a first-round pick in the MLB draft).

" The Aggies will practice in helmets only Friday and Saturday, have meetings only on Sunday (no practice), helmets and shoulder pads on Monday and Tuesday and they'll have their first full-padded practice on Wednesday. Thursday will be their first two-a-day practice followed by a single practice on Aug. 8, then a scrimmage on Aug. 9.
Editor's note: This week we're taking a brief look at Texas A&M players who surprised us with their performances during spring practice, which wrapped up for the Aggies earlier this month.

Texas A&M guard Germain Ifedi turned in a solid debut season as a starter in 2013, laying the foundation for a bright future in Aggieland. As one of four returning starters on the offensive line, there has never been much question about his ability -- he has plenty of it, to go with a lot of size (6-foot-5, 327 pounds).

[+] EnlargeGermain Ifedi
Spruce Derden/USA TODAY SportsGermain Ifedi showed remarkable improvement this spring and is a candidate to move outside to right tackle.
But in this era of spread offenses, bigger isn't always better when it comes to offensive tackles and size. Texas A&M's last three left tackles – Luke Joeckel, Jake Matthews and the incumbent, Cedric Ogbuehi – showed that athleticism is as valued as size when it comes to the premier offensive line position.

This spring, Ifedi set out to show that even with his size, he has the athleticism and talent to make the shift from guard to tackle. He spent the majority of the spring working as the starting right tackle. With the position open for battle after last year's right tackle, Ogbuehi, shifted to the left side, Ifedi showed that he wants it.

"He surprised all of us," Ogbuehi said of Ifedi's spring performance at right tackle. "His footwork is better at tackle than at guard. He's done a great job. You can tell he's watched Luke, Jake, myself and it got him a lot better. It's showing."

When spring practice began, the Aggies worked junior college transfers Avery Gennesy and Jermaine Eluemunor at the position. Offensive line coach B.J. Anderson eventually moved both to the second unit so that they could get more practice time to focus on fundamentals and grasp playing both right guard and right tackle.

Anderson stressed that there weren't "any jobs being won" in spring and that the time was meant to get guys focused on improvement. But Ifedi certainly emerged as a real candidate for the right tackle job come fall.

"He has done a really nice job transitioning," Anderson said. "He's just got to get used to the techniques and fundamentals of it ... the hand work, the answers to the counter move, the bull move, all the things he's going to see."

Having shown he can play guard, it will be an asset to the Aggies if Ifedi, who will be a redshirt sophomore this fall, can become proficient at tackle. Anderson wants to see the depth improve on the offensive line and having versatile players is helpful.

While the Aggies want to put the best five players out on the offensive line, they also want to make sure it's a cohesive unit, which doesn't necessarily mean it's the five best linemen.

"The thing about the offensive line is you want to create what we call a nickel, and not five pennies," coach Kevin Sumlin said in March. "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."

Lessons from spring: OL is deep

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The last two seasons, Texas A&M hasn't had to tap deep into its offensive line because the Aggies have had good fortune health-wise at the position.

In 2012, the Aggies had the same starting five offensive linemen for all 13 games and in 2013, they had the same starting five for 11 of their 13 games, missing only tackle Cedric Ogbuehi for two games in the middle of the season.

But with left guard Jarvis Harrison sitting out the spring while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, the Aggies were able to see that they do have quality depth on their offensive line should they need it.

Harrison's absence made way for two players to find their way into the lineup with the first team this spring: Garrett Gramling and Joseph Cheek.

Texas A&M returns four of five starters from 2013: Ogbuehi, Harrison, center Mike Matthews and right guard Germain Ifedi. The right tackle spot is open for competition and though the spring began with junior college transfers Avery Gennesy and Jermaine Eluemunor competing for the position, the majority of the spring saw Ifedi manning that spot.

With Ifedi shifted over and Harrison out, that left the two guard spots open, which both Gramling and Cheek ably filled during spring drills.

Offensive line coach B.J. Anderson made it clear during spring football that "we're not earning any jobs right now" and that his players were focusing on technique and fundamentals. Still, Ifedi established himself as a candidate to be the future right tackle and Gramling -- who started at left guard the two games Ogbuehi was out while Harrison played left tackle -- has positioned himself to compete for a starting guard job.

"I've got Joe Cheek over at the right guard and Garrett at the left guard and you add Jarvis to that mix and there's three guys for those two positions," Anderson said. "We'll find out who wins it in fall camp."

Eluemunor spent most of the spring working at guard and Gennesy at tackle and Anderson wanted both to get comfortable in their new surroundings. He also noted that both were training at both right guard and right tackle.

"I think that's important," Anderson said. "They need to do be able to do both in case we get into an injury scenario."

Ogbuehi, who played right tackle last year, spent the spring getting acclimated to the left side of the offensive line. He felt good about his progress from the first spring practice to the last one on April 5.

"I feel a lot better," Ogbuehi said. "I feel better than I was last year at right tackle."

Matthews, who is entering his junior season at center, will be a steady presence for the Aggies in the middle.

"Mike has total control of the offense," Anderson said.

The standard this group has to live up to is a high one. The last two seasons, the Aggies have been considered one of the country's best offensive lines, paving the way for a top-10 offense and protecting quarterback Johnny Manziel. It's a unit that produced the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft (Luke Joeckel) and likely will produce another top-10 pick next month (Jake Matthews). Even SEC fans are picking the Aggies to be the league's best unit this season.

Though it remains to be seen how this group develops, there certainly is no shortage of options for the Aggies up front.
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.

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Spruce Derden/USA TODAY SportsRising 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."
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Going into spring football there was one spot on the Texas A&M offensive line expected to play host to serious competition for a starting job: right tackle.

Initially, two junior college transfers, Avery Gennesy and Jermaine Eluemunor, were the early candidates expected to compete for the position.

But with versatile talent across its offensive line, Texas A&M had other options to explore as well. So far, the Aggies have done just that in experimenting with yet another candidate: sophomore Germain Ifedi.

"With the two new JC guys and then moving Ced [Ogbuehi] to left [tackle], we've actually experimented with a little Germain Ifedi at right tackle," Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said. "He thinks he's skinny anyways at 324 [pounds]."

The 6-foot-5 Ifedi was the Aggies' full-time starter at right guard last season, his first as a starter after redshirting in 2012.

The Aggies like having versatile offensive linemen and have utilized them as such in the past. Last season, Jake Matthews played left tackle but spent two games at right tackle. Ogbuehi played right guard and right tackle previously before making the switch to left tackle this spring. Jarvis Harrison, who is sitting out spring while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, has been the left guard but also spent two games at left tackle last season.

So it should come as no surprise that the Aggies are mixing and matching to see what works best.

"We've created a little bit more energy during practice with those guys up front and a bunch of new guys out there anyway moving positions and trying to earn them," Sumlin said. "Whenever you have something like that, the energy level is always pretty good, I think."

While Harrison has sat out, Garrett Gramling -- who started two games at left guard last season -- has worked at left guard this spring. When Ifedi has practiced as the first-team right tackle, veteran tackle Joseph Cheek has seen time at right guard with the first group.

"He's a big dude in there now," Sumlin said of Gramling. "He's all of 6-6 and 315-320 pounds and really gives us some flexibility at guard to be able to move Germain around and Cheek. People forgot Cheek is still here. We've got some guys around that give us some quality depth in the offensive line."

When it comes to Gennesy and Eluemunor, Sumlin has also liked what he has seen and the work that offensive line coach B.J. Anderson has done with the entire offensive line.

"Coach Anderson has done a good job of putting them with the twos so they can get used to their technique because when they get up there with the ones, things are happening real fast," Sumlin said. "Guys get a little bit worried. Avery is really, really athletic. Jermaine is a lot more athletic than I thought he would be. Those two guys are great additions. It just takes some time."
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.

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

There have been several reasons for Texas A&M’s early success in the SEC. Many point to the Aggies’ history-making quarterback, Johnny Manziel, the coveted head coach, Kevin Sumlin, or myriad other factors.

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AP Photo/Aaron M. SprecherWith Cedric Ogbuehi returning for his senior season, Texas A&M will return four of five starters on the O-line.
But considering that college football’s premier conference has long been known as a line-of-scrimmage league, there’s no denying that the Aggies’ offensive line the last two seasons has been as meaningful to their success as perhaps any other group.

In the 2013 NFL draft, the Aggies produced the No. 2 overall pick in tackle Luke Joeckel and in the upcoming 2014 NFL draft, offensive tackle Jake Matthews appears to be a surefire top-10 and perhaps even top-five selection.

The next tackle who could be in line for lofty draft status is one who bypassed the chance to be chosen this year -- Cedric Ogbuehi.

Though he was recruited to Texas A&M as a tackle, the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Ogbuehi spent his first two seasons in Aggieland playing guard. In 2013, after Joeckel moved on and Matthews shifted to left tackle, Ogbuehi kicked out to right tackle. After a successful junior season at the position, he had the chance to enter the draft and said he received a first-round grade from the NFL draft advisory board but chose to return to College Station for his senior season.

This fall, Ogbuehi has a chance to follow Matthews’ plan, switching from right tackle to left, making him one of the most pivotal players to watch during Texas A&M’s spring practice.

Ogbuehi knows how to play tackle but the challenge is switching from right to left. While the techniques are similar, the adjustment in footwork is perhaps the biggest challenge.

When Matthews went through the switch last year, it took a lot of work to adapt. Texas A&M offensive line coach B.J. Anderson described last season the challenges Matthews faced upon making the switch, which provides insight into the challenge Ogbuehi faces.

“When you play guard on one side of the ball and you bump out to tackle [on the same side], your stagger is still the same. It's a different set, but your left foot is still your base foot and your right foot is still your kick foot,” Anderson said. “Now Jake had to go over and learn a new stagger. It's just a comfort deal. It's like anything else: after a couple thousands reps at it, it starts to become comfortable.”

Considering Ogbuehi’s athleticism, which is good for the position, it stands to reason that he’ll be able to adapt. It simply will take time and work to get it right.

If the transition is smooth, it will pay big dividends for the A&M offense. The Aggies return four starters on the offensive line: Ogbuehi, guards Jarvis Harrison and Germain Ifedi and center Mike Matthews. Look for junior college transfers Avery Gennesy and Jermaine Eluemunor to battle for Ogbuehi’s right tackle position in the spring.

But with that many returning starters, the experience across the line should help what will be a young offense in other areas, particularly at quarterback and receiver.

The Aggies have had offensive line success in recent years and if Ogbuehi’s move to the left tackle succeeds, this could be another good year up front for Texas A&M.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — After losing a left tackle who was the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft and a center who was a two-year starter at the position and a four-year starter overall, it was easy to believe that there would be a drop-off in performance from the Texas A&M offensive line.

Through six games, the No. 7 Aggies can safely say all is well up front. Even with two newcomers and some shuffling by moving returning starters around, the unit is again performing at a high level and is one of the reasons Texas A&M's offense continues to be one of the best in college football.

While it's difficult to replicate what the Aggies had last season, when all five starters last season played multiple seasons together, it's easy to see how well this year's group is doing. All it takes is watching quarterback Johnny Manziel drop back and sit comfortably in the pocket for five, six and sometimes seven seconds looking for a receiver or deciding to use his scrambling ability to gain yardage.

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Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesJake Matthews is playing well at left tackle after playing right tackle in 2012.
And in the Aggies' victory over Arkansas on Sept. 28, the line paved the way for two second-half touchdown drives that consisted of all running plays. Texas A&M had more rushing yards than passing yards.

"Offensive line has played really good, with the exception of one game," offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney said. "I think those young guys in one of those six games -- I think it was SMU -- had some struggles. But for the most part, they've played great."

Against SMU, there were some penalties and self-inflicted errors that the Aggies needed to clean up. Their performance against No. 1 Alabama was strong and they've been consistent, for the most part, the rest of the year.

The transition began back in spring, moving Jake Matthews from right tackle to left tackle to replace Luke Joeckel. To fill Matthews' void, right guard Cedric Ogbuehi kicked out to right tackle. Jake's younger brother Mike Matthews stepped in as the starter at center and redshirt freshman Germain Ifedi slid in at right guard. The only player still in the same position last season is left guard Jarvis Harrison.

Behind that quintet, the Aggies are putting up 586.5 yards per game (No. 3 in the country) and have allowed only seven sacks, which puts them in the top 30 statistically in the country. They're 20th in rushing yards (224.6 yards per game) and sixth in passing yards (361.8 per game).

"They're getting better every week," senior running back Ben Malena said. "It's hard to compare this year's group to last year's because they're only six games in, but I can tell you every week they are getting better."

The biggest question marks coming into the season centered around the first-time starters. So far, they've answered the questions.

"I'm really pleased with the young guys," offensive line coach B.J. Anderson said. "I think they've made some strides. They've played in some atmospheres where we had to communicate. Mike's done a really good job. I've changed protections on him a couple games. ... I'm really pleased with where he's at, and the same way with Germain. He's getting better every game and we're fixing some things that need to get fixed and we'll just keep working."

Anderson noted that they're not holding anything back from Mike Matthews, who is just a sophomore, when it comes to game-planning and protections. That's critical considering the vast array of defensive looks Anderson said opponents have thrown at the Aggies.

"If you had told me that I had that flexibility back in August, I'm not sure I would have believed you," Anderson said. "But he's got the kitchen sink right now. I'm not doing anything that I didn't do with Pat Lewis, who was a senior. He's able to make all the adjustments I need and I'm really pleased with the mental work he does during the week, preparation-wise."

The "older guys" -- senior Jake Matthews and juniors Harrison and Ogbuehi -- have also shined. Matthews' adjustment to left tackle has been smooth, as has Ogbuehi's to right tackle. Harrison has impressed Anderson with his effort week to week.

"Jake's Jake and Ced's doing a good job and Jarvis Harrison is playing his tail off -- as well as he's played since I've been here," Anderson said. "He's playing with great effort. It shows on tape and I'm happy with those older guys."

Manziel's progression and mastery of the offense in the second season in the scheme has helped as well. Players say they notice Manziel has tried to stay in the pocket more often.

"I feel more this year that he hasn't scrambled as much and he has been more patient," Ogbuehi said. "He looks to throw more, too. He's always looking to make a big play with his arm, and that's good."

Perhaps the best aspect of this group is it has stayed healthy. The Aggies were fortunate to keep all five starters healthy last season, and that's been the case this year, too. It isn't a perfect group, but it is a smart, talented one that continues to improve every day.

"This year, we're still trying to get there but so far we're getting there," Ogbuehi said. "It's exciting so far what we've done in the little time we've had together."

Helmet stickers: Week 5

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FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas — Texas A&M pulled out a 45-33 road win over Arkansas on Saturday night to improve to 4-1, 1-1 in SEC play. Let's look at some of the key performances and hand out some helmet stickers:

A&M offensive line: This group was stellar on Saturday. They paved the way for 523 offensive yards, including 262 rushing. They helped A&M dominate the second half and anchored two scoring drives that consisted of all running plays. They protected quarterback Johnny Manziel well, allowing only one sack, which was more of a result of an extended scramble than it was protection. Trey Williams, Tra Carson, Ben Malena and Brandon Williams combined for 203 rushing yards behind the front five. After having some mistakes and penalties last week, the quintet of Jake Matthews, Jarvis Harrison, Mike Matthews, Germain Ifedi and Cedric Ogbuehi cleaned those things up and put together a strong effort.

Deshazor Everett: The junior defensive back is establishing himself as the best player on this A&M defense, and he came up with the biggest defensive play on Saturday night, a 34-yard interception return for a touchdown on Arkansas' first drive of the second half. It helped A&M extend their lead to 31-20 when the Razorbacks could have gone down field and taking their first lead. He has done whatever defensive coordinator Mark Snyder and secondary coach Marcel Yates have asked of him, and his move to safety is helping the back end of the defense immensely.

Mike Evans: He caught a 51-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage and caught two first-half touchdowns, including a jump ball in the end zone where he came up limping. The injury didn't keep him out of action long though; Evans came back to play the remainder of the game and even appeared on special teams. Last season he toughed out many a game with a hamstring injury, so it shouldn't be surprising that he didn't stay off the field long. He finished with six catches for 116 yards.

Aggie Snapshot: OL Germain Ifedi 

July, 19, 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. 74 Germain Ifedi
Freshman guard


Chat wrap: Aggies' OL should be fine

May, 3, 2013
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GigEmNation writer Sam Khan Jr. chatted with readers on Friday about Texas A&M football and recruiting. Here's the full transcript of the chat. Here's an excerpt from the chat:

Kevin (Texas): Without Luke [Joeckel], will Texas A&M'S offensive line be as strong as last year's?
Sam Khan Jr.: I think it will take some time before they are that good. However, I think by year's end, the dropoff won't be very noticeable. Jake Matthews will make a great left tackle in my opinion and I think Cedric Ogbuehi has a lot of ability, so he could develop into a star at right tackle. And Mike Matthews at center will also be pretty good, I think. Jarvis Harrison is the lone player in the same position he was last year, so it stands to reason that he'll be better. The wild card is probably redshirt freshman Germain Ifedi. But playing right guard with his size (330+) should be just fine for the Aggies.

WaffleHouseAg (Plano): Which of the non early enrolled freshmen has the biggest impact next year?
Sam Khan Jr.: My guess is one of the two defensive tackles Isaiah Golden or Justin Manning. The Aggies were thin thin thin up front this spring (in part because of injuries) but they need all the depth they can get. I could see either of those guys in the two deep and getting into the rotation if they make quick progress this summer. I wouldn't be shocked to see any of these three offensive skill guys get on the field quickly either: LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Ricky Seals-Jones, Sebastian LaRue. I think you could see one or two of those guys have a role this fall.

Joel (Shreveport): What type of season do you see JFF [Johnny Manziel] having in 2013? Will he try to impress the NFL by staying in the pocket longer and throwing the ball downfield?
Sam Khan Jr.: I don't think he'll do that simply to impress NFL scouts -- he'll do that because it will be better for the Aggies and this offense if he becomes more proficient in the pocket. Is he still going to run? Absolutely. But the more hits he takes, the more of a chance you have of losing him. So the better he gets as a pocket passer, the more dangerous the offense becomes because then he won't have to scramble every time he tries to make a big offensive pass play. Also, year two in this particular offense is when a quarterback really takes off. See: Case Keenum, Geno Smith, etc. His grasp of it will be better and the Aggies will be better for it. So yeah, he'll do it, but not necessarily just to impress NFL scouts.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- On the surface, it's easy to surmise that there will be plenty of continuity in Texas A&M's offensive line as it transitions into a new season.

Three of five starters return from what was the strongest position group on the team in 2012.

But just because a few familiar names are still around doesn't mean things are the same. There is plenty of change for the Aggies' front five this spring.

Of the quintet, only one player -- junior left guard Jarvis Harrison -- returns to the same position he was in a year ago. The rest of the offensive linemen are stepping into a new role, either as a returning starter in a new position or as a first-time starter.

[+] EnlargeJake Matthews
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesJake Matthews might have been a first-round draft choice if he had entered the 2013 NFL draft, but instead he will move to left tackle for his senior season.
After having what was arguably the best offensive tackle tandem in the country last year, the Aggies wave goodbye to one of them (Luke Joeckel, who declared for the NFL draft) and welcome back another in senior Jake Matthews.

Matthews spent last season at right tackle but has moved to left tackle, Joeckel's old spot, to protect Johnny Manziel's blind side. Taking Matthews' place at right tackle is the Cedric Ogbuehi, who started at right guard a season ago.

"They've become comfortable, I think, pretty quickly as far as their footwork goes," offensive line coach B.J. Anderson said of the tackle tandem. "What we're working now is all the little things. Right now, Jake's changed his post hand. It's his left hand when he's on the right side and now on the left side he has to change his post hand. We've got to work through the little things.

"Ced's the same way. There's a lot more grass out there when you play tackle. But he's long and athletic and he's done a nice job and we'll just keep working on those little things."

Since the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Matthews has excelled as a right tackle, there are high expectations for him as he moves to the left side. Ogbuehi was a tackle in high school, so the move outside is natural fit for him as well.

"The biggest change is that I'm going against faster dudes, my sets are different," Ogbuehi said. "Other than that, it's the same thing really.

"I was excited and also sad that Luke left. But it's a big change for me to show what I can do, because I'm athletic. Playing guard, I didn't really showcase that. Playing tackle is going to show what I can really do and also show that I'm versatile, that I can play guard and tackle."

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M has completed two weeks of spring practices, and the Aggies gave fans their first extended look at the 2013 edition of the squad Saturday during an open scrimmage at Kyle Field. There was evidence that several Aggies are making positive strides. Here are five who have seen their stock rise in the first half of spring ball:

[+] EnlargeBrandon Williams
Sam Khan Jr./ESPNAfter sitting out last season, former Oklahoma transfer Brandon Williams could make a big impact for the Aggies in 2013.
Nate Askew: This spring has been one of real transition for the senior, who has been a receiver for the balance of his career but has been shifted to outside linebacker. So far the 6-foot-4, 220-pound player appears to be adapting well. He spent most of his time Saturday with the first-team defense and made some plays, including an interception of Johnny Manziel. He still has a ways to go, but Askew is making progress.

Reggie Chevis: Size-wise, the true freshman looks like he was built to be an inside linebacker (the 6-2 Houston product is likely hovering around 250 pounds) and Saturday he saw time with both the first team and second team at middle linebacker. Though junior Donnie Baggs is the likely favorite to start this fall at the position, Chevis certainly is showing why he was heavily recruited.

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M hit the field on a cool, foggy afternoon for its first open-to-the-public scrimmage of the 2013 spring football season on Saturday at Kyle Field.

There is plenty to take away from the first extended on-field look at the 2013 Aggies, but here are a few things that stood out:

Brandon Williams looks like a potential playmaker: The Brookshire (Texas) Royal graduate, who is nicknamed "Slim," showed some nice moves and ability when he was on the field Saturday. In a handful of touches, Williams showed good vision and speed and was able to beat a few defenders to the pylon for a touchdown run midway through the scrimmage. His initial action was with the second-team offense, but he received plenty of time with the first team as well. Naturally, Ben Malena was the traditional first-team back and Tra Carson got some repetitions as well [freshman Trey Williams, who has been injured all spring, did not participate]. But Williams looked a lot like someone who will get touches and be productive this fall.

Floyd Raven experiment at safety is showing progress: As defensive coordinator Mark Snyder and head coach Kevin Sumlin noted earlier this spring, there are two things Raven does really well that fit the free safety position: He has good speed and he can hit. On Saturday he showed a nose for the football, intercepting quarterback Johnny Manziel once and nearly doing it a second time later in the scrimmage. The junior certainly looks the part so far.

Reggie Chevis
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comFreshman Reggie Chavis received snaps with the first and second team at linebacker on Saturday.
Youth is served, especially on defense: Injuries are keeping several key players on the sideline, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. (Projected starters Julien Obioha, Kirby Ennis and Steven Jenkins are all sitting out this spring.) So it's giving the Aggies a chance to work out some younger players at key positions. Redshirt freshman Tyrone Taylor, younger brother of junior Tyrell Taylor, lined up at defensive end with the first-team offense, as did sophomore Alonzo Williams, who played the last half of the 2012 season and started in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. True freshman linebackers Reggie Chevis and Brett Wade also had plenty of playing time Saturday -- Wade as a second-team weakside linebacker and Chevis at middle linebacker, getting snaps with both the first- and second-team defense. (Junior Donnie Baggs started the scrimmage as the first-team middle linebacker.) Sophomore A.J. Hilliard, who transferred from TCU in January, also saw time with the first-team defensive unit at outside linebacker.

Offensive line set? Whenever the first-team offense was out on the field, the same group of five was out there: Jake Matthews at left tackle, Jarvis Harrison at left guard, Mike Matthews at center, Germain Ifedi at right guard and Cedric Ogbuehi at right tackle. The primary battles going into the spring were to be at center and right guard and so far, it appears Mike Matthews and Ifedi have a solid grasp on those spots.

Positive signs from the kicking game: Sure, the scrimmage doesn't count, but fans certainly had to be happy to see Taylor Bertolet connect on his kicks. The only miscue in the kicking game was a mistake by the holder, punter Drew Kaser, that forced Bertolet to stutter step before a kick that was blockes. But every other field goal and point-after-touchdown attempt that Bertolet tried went through the uprights. The sophomore is looking to bounce back from an inconsistent 2012 season in which he was 13-of-22 on field goal attempts and 67-of-74 on extra point tries.

The stars are still the stars: Manziel made some nice throws and though he did throw three interceptions -- some of which might have been forced since he wasn't really running the football himself -- he overall had a solid day. He certainly remembers how to get the ball to the Aggies' best receiver, Mike Evans, who probably had the most impressive day of anybody, catching two touchdowns and picking up where he left off from 2012.
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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