Texas A&M Aggies: Steven Campbell

Texas A&M Aggies Class of 2009 review 

January, 24, 2013
The 2012 season was one to remember for Texas A&M.

The Aggies' first season in the Southeastern Conference was better than almost anyone could expect. And while much of the focus centered around a redshirt freshman -- Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel -- first-year A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin repeatedly praised his seniors for their leadership and buying in when they didn't have to.

[+] EnlargeChristine Michael
Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireRunning back Christine Michael was Texas A&M's top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2009.
As Sumlin often said this year, "They didn't sign up to play for us."

Sumlin was referring to the upperclassmen -- and, really, anybody who wasn't a true freshman or transfer who joined the squad this season -- who signed up to play for previous head coach Mike Sherman.

Many of the Sherman recruits (Manziel included) played critical roles in the Aggies' ability to go 11-2, finish tied for second in the SEC West and conclude the season ranked in the top five. When looking back four years ago at the 2009 recruiting class, roughly a dozen of them wound up being key players in the memorable 2012 season.

There were several diamonds in the rough. Among them were Ryan Swope, who was ranked the No. 116 athlete in the country in 2009. The running back from Austin (Texas) Westlake became a receiver at Texas A&M and eventually set the school's career receiving yardage record, among other marks, such as single-season catches, single-season receiving yards and career 100-yard games.

Another lightly heralded player was defensive tackle Spencer Nealy. Ranked 105th nationally at his position, the San Antonio Reagan product always brought high energy and effort and this season became a catalyst in the Aggies' transition to a 4-3 from a 3-4 the last two years. Nealy, a defensive end the previous two seasons, moved inside to defensive tackle and took on double teams week after week. The job he did inside helped facilitate the terrific season outside by defensive end Damontre Moore.

The other starting defensive tackle in 2012, who had a solid season of his own -- Kirby Ennis -- was also a member of the 2009 class.

One of the most important offensive players in 2012 not named Manziel was center Patrick Lewis, another class of 2009 recruit. As one of the "Louisianimals" as Lewis referred to himself and his fellow Louisiana natives, Lewis was the man who made the offense go, literally. The Aggies installed a high-tempo attack upon Sumlin's arrival, and dictating tempo was one of Lewis' primary jobs. He had to get to the ball before the ref spotted it and make protection calls as well. As one of the team captains, Lewis was a true leader.

The two senior linebackers who started for the Aggies, who also served as leaders for this year's team, were also part of the class of 2009: Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart. Both started all 13 games this year. Stewart was second on the team in tackles with 81, while Porter was fifth (66) and second on the team in tackles for loss (6.5).

Grading the positions: Safeties 

November, 30, 2012
In the weeks leading up to Texas A&M's bowl game, GigEmNation will take a look back at how the Aggies performed position-by-position and give each group a grade based on that performance. Today, we look at the safety position.

GradeHighlights: Senior Steven Terrell was the only safety to play and start all 12 games for the Aggies this season and was solid from start to finish. He tied for fifth on the team in tackles for the season (58), had four tackles for loss and two interceptions, both of which came in the Aggies' 58-10 win over Arkansas. He also had five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Late in the season, Howard Matthews came on strong and cornerbacks Deshazor Everett and Toney Hurd proved capable of playing the position during the times they were shifted back there.

Lowlights: There was hope that this was going to be a strong senior year for Steven Campbell, but it wasn't to be. A career that was marred by injuries was cut short by midseason. He appeared in two games this season and started one. He missed one game due to a suspension for violation of team rules and missed the Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana Tech games because of what Kevin Sumlin called "recurring headaches" and called it quits at that point.

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Focus on '14: Safeties 

October, 23, 2012
GigEmNation is taking a weekly position-by-position look at the 2014 recruiting class as it relates to Texas A&M, whom the Aggies are targeting, as well as 2013 commits and who on the roster will graduate. Today, we look at the safety position.

2013 commits: Victor Davis, Rosenberg (Texas) Terry; Shaan Washington, Alexandria (La.) High School; Jonathan Wiggins, Houston Alief Taylor.

[+] EnlargeEdwin Freeman
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comClass of 2014 safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie) likes the Aggies.
Safeties who'll graduate: Steven Campbell, Steven Terrell, C.J. Jones.

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Notes: Penalties a point of emphasis

October, 2, 2012
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- One area that Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin put specific emphasis on heading into this season was penalties.

In 2011, the Aggies ranked 100th in the country penalties per game, averaging seven. Only 20 teams were penalized more on avereage than the Aggies were.

After starting out roughly in that department (the Aggies committed nine penalties in each of the first two games), they've shown improvement in the last two weeks, committing a combined five penalties in wins over South Carolina State and Arkansas. Currently, they average 5.75 infractions per game, tied for 49th nationally.

[+] EnlargeScott Novak
Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty ImagesReferees' flags were an issue for the Aggies in the first two games of the season.
Sumlin and Aggies players talked about the emphasis placed on it entering the season when meeting with the media on Tuesday at the Bright Football Complex. Former longtime NFL executive Bill Polian, father of Texas A&M special teams coordinator Brian Polian, visited with the team during fall training camp and spoke of an NFL study that equated penalties committed to points.

"Bill Polian was here to speak to our football team and in an NFL study, over time, 10 yards of penalties were equal to one point," Sumlin said. "So all you have to do is look back at Florida. If that's the case, then that was about eight or nine points, which could have been the difference in that football game. So when you start talking to people in terms of what it actually costs, I think guys understand it. And then they realize that it's not OK.

"Five-yard penalties are controlled by the players not the coaches. Pre-snap penalties are controlled by the players, not the coaches. You're responsible for that, lining up correctly, jumping offsides, staying onside; coaches coach and players play. You have a responsibility to everybody to do your job and that's it. You hold people accountable for those types of things in front of your peers and they start figuring it out."

In terms of holding people accountable, the Aggies have disciplinary measures in place as punishment for committing penalties. Offensive players are required to do up-downs, defensive players must do over-and-backs, which means they'll have to run across the field multiple times after practices.

"They've definitely upped the punishment for penalties," senior receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu said. "The big guys definitely don't want to be up-downing after practice as much as we do. We definitely honed in on that. To be a winning ballclub, you can't have penalties. You can't hurt yourself and have mistakes like that. We try to get positive yards, not negative yards, and I would say the coaching staff has definitely done a good job of making us more focused on that."

Rowdy road atmosphere: When the Aggies travel to Oxford, Miss., to meet Mississippi on Saturday, it'll be their first Southeastern Conference road game as a member of the SEC. They've heard what to expect and feel like they have an idea of what it should be like.

"I expect Ole Miss to be a crazy atmosphere, real loud," senior receiver Ryan Swope said. "This is going to be special for us and is what I came back for to play, to go out and experience all those SEC schools. Going on the road to all those SEC schools, seeing how loud these stadiums are. It’s going to be cool to see everything these teams have to offer. I’m really excited about it."

Rankings insignificant: The Aggies haven't yet cracked the top 25, but they say that it doesn't bother them one bit.

"It’s not important," senior linebacker Jonathan Stewart said. "If we were ranked 23 we would be the same exact team. It’s not very important to us right now. We’re just trying to focus on Ole Miss. We know how much talent we have on this team. We know what we’re capable of doing. It’s not a big-time priority for us right now. There’s still a lot of season to play."

Interchangeable parts: The Texas A&M secondary has been an area where there have been shifts from week to week. Sophomore Deshazor Everett has played both cornerback and safety and on Saturday against Arkansas, junior Toney Hurd started at safety after spending most of the first three games at nickel cornerback.

Sumlin said that more versatility is a good thing for the Aggies.

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Five storylines: Texas A&M vs. SCSU 

September, 20, 2012
Texas A&M returns home to host FCS opponent South Carolina State at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Kyle Field. The Aggies (1-1) are coming off their first win of the season, which came at SMU last week. Let's take a look at five storylines for the Aggies as their next game approaches:

1. Consistent approach
The Aggies are facing an opponent that is on a different level and won't be able to match them in terms of talent or depth. But coach Kevin Sumlin said that the Aggies are in no position to take anyone lightly or change their approach. If the Aggies approach this game like they have the last two, it should be over in a hurry. Last week, the Aggies took a quarter to get on track offensively against SMU. Offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury said the unit's main objective is to start quickly (like it did against Florida). So that will be something the Aggies look to accomplish this week.

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Notes: Aggies approach doesn't change

September, 18, 2012
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The opponent may be of a different level, but Texas A&M won't be modifying how it prepares this week as it is set to face FCS foe South Carolina State, a team that is coming off a 56-0 loss to Arizona. Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin said as much when meeting with the media on Tuesday.

"We won't take a different approach," Sumlin said. "We've got to be ready to play. I don't know that we took a much different approach in any game that we've played. Based on where we are, who we are, what we've accomplished, I don't think we can not take anybody very, very seriously."

Suspensions: After missing the SMU game while serving one-game suspensions for a violation of team rules, senior running back Christine Michael and safety Steven Campbell will be back with the team for game day this week against South Carolina State. Whether they'll return to their roles as starters is undetermined.

"I don't know," Sumlin said. "They've got to practice."

Sumlin also said he addressed with Michael the fact that the Michael was tweeting during the game (Michael did not travel with the team to Dallas). At one point, Michael tweeted "Man run the ball...."

"I had a discussion with Christine about that yesterday," Sumlin said.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Texas A&M 48, SMU 3 

September, 16, 2012
DALLAS -- Texas A&M scored its first win of the season and its first win of the Kevin Sumlin era, dominating SMU 48-3 on Saturday at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Let's look back at some of the good and the bad from the win:


1. 'Johnny Football' dazzles: Coming out of Kerrville (Texas) Tivy, quarterback Johnny Manziel was known for his playmaking ability, particular when improvising. He showed off that ability extensively on Saturday en route to a Texas A&M freshman single-game record 294 passing yards and four touchdowns in addition to a game-high 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.

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• Texas A&M OTs Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews vs. Florida DEs Lerentee McCray and Dominique Easley
[+] EnlargeJoeckel
Cal Sport MediaLuke Joeckel will have his work cut out for him against Florida's defensive ends.
The Gators feature fast, athletic ends that will provide a test for Joeckel and Matthews, considered one of the nations best tackle tandems. Joeckel, the Aggies' 6-foot-6, 310-pound left tackle, will match up against McCray (6-foot-3, 249) while Matthews (6-foot-5, 305) at right tackle will face Easley (6-foot-2, 280).

• Florida DT Sharrif Floyd vs. Texas A&M LG Jarvis Harrison and C Patrick Lewis
Floyd, a 6-foot-3, 303-pound junior, has the size, athleticism and is a load to handle. He was disruptive in the Gators' opener against Bowling Green with 1.5 tackles for loss and consistently pushed interior linemen back. He'll match up against Harrison, a 6-foot-3, 320 sophomore, in some instances and in others, he will line up on the football vs. Lewis (6-foot-2, 312), the senior. How Floyd responds to the fast tempo the Aggies' will run on offense will be worth watching.

• Texas A&M RB Christine Michael vs. Florida MLB Jon Bostic
The 6-foot-1, 246 pound Bostic is a playmaker and led the Gators with eight tackles last week, including five solos and a tackle for loss. Michael is at full strength after a knee injury shortened his junior season but the 5-foot-11, 220-pounder can run in between the tackles as well as on the edges and has been improving his pass-catching ability. Many assume Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury's offense is pass-happy, but if the Aggies don't run the ball well, it will make things tougher on them.

• Florida TE Jordan Reed vs. Texas A&M LB Sean Porter and S Steven Campbell
Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder was highly complimentary of Reed, a 6-foot-3, 243-pound junior who caught three passes for 33 yards last week, calling Reed a threat. A pair of seniors in Porter, the strongside linebacker and Campbell at safety will likely draw the chance to match up with Reed. Both Porter and Campbell are talented veterans who are impact players themselves.

• Florida WRs Frankie Hammond, Jr. and Quinton Dunbar vs. Texas A&M CBs Deshazor Everett and De'Vante Harris
Snyder also said the Gators receivers "can all fly," referring to their speed. Hammond, a senior and Dunbar, a redshirt sophomore will test a pair of young Aggie cornerbacks. Everett, a sophomore, is making his first career start after spending last year as a reserve and special teams player while Harris, a true freshman, will be playing his first career game. Both have impressed the A&M coaching staff in fall camp.

Looking ahead after Aggies' scrimmage 

August, 20, 2012
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The two-a-days portion of Texas A&M’s fall training camp wrapped up last week with the Aggies having three two-a-days and nine practices in all last week, concluding with Saturday’s open-to-the-public scrimmage. Now the players will hone in on game preparations for Louisiana Tech, the Aggies’ season-opening opponent on Aug. 30 at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, La.

Here are some things that stood out from Saturday's scrimmage and what they could mean moving forward:

• Improvement on defense: In the Aggies’ previous open scrimmage, the offense moved the ball consistently on the defense. The Texas A&M defense slowed it down on Saturday and coach Kevin Sumlin said he saw improvement both in the defensive line and in the linebacker play. The unit also did a good job of mixing things up and keeping the offense off-balance. Those characteristics appear to be a sign of things to come for the defense this year, which will have to battle depth issues along the defensive line while playing a base 4-3 alignment after spending the last two seasons in the 3-4.

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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.

[+] EnlargeTexas A&M's Damontre Moore
Thomas Campbell/US PRESSWIRETexas 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."

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Current and future: Safeties 

August, 9, 2012
As 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 safeties.


On the depth chart: Steven Campbell, Johntel Franklin, Toney Hurd, Howard Matthews, Steven Terrell

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Fall practice is nearing for the Texas A&M Aggies as they prepare for the 2012 season. The Aggies begin workouts on Friday, so let's take a glance at some of the key position battles on defense and special teams to keep an eye on in the coming weeks:

Cornerback: Deshazor Everett, Floyd Raven, Dustin Harris, Tremaine Jacobs

Everett and Raven are listed as the two starting corners going into camp. Both have good size (Raven is 6-foot-2, 190; Everett is six feet, 176) but both are light on experience. Each played a dozen games last season as true freshmen but neither has recorded a start in their career yet. For Harris, experience is a strength -- the senior has appeared in 38 games, including 17 starts and has been a significant contributor on special teams in the return game. Jacobs, a junior college transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College was able to enroll in January and go through spring football with the team. Also keep an eye on junior Toney Hurd. Though he's listed on the depth chart as a safety, he could fit in as a corner in nickel packages, a spot where Hurd saw some time in the spring. There's also the possibility that Everett could slide to safety if needed.

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Recruits Miss Lone Star Showdown
National recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton spoke with top prospects at Nike's The Opening regional in Dallas. The findings were overwhelming: Players want the game back.