Texas A&M Aggies: Steven Parker

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M’s defense struggled across the board in 2013, and the Aggies can use all the help, and depth, they can get in order to improve in 2014.

That is probably more true at safety than any other position. It’s a spot the Aggies have found challenges when trying to maintain or add talent and depth, with the latest hurdle coming recently as spring practice opened.

The loss of safety Kameron Miles, whom the Aggies announced officially on Thursday had been dismissed from the team for unspecified reasons, isn’t cause for panic because as head coach Kevin Sumlin pointed out, Miles didn’t see the field at all last season.

[+] EnlargeClay Honeycutt
Juan DeLeon/Icon SMIClay Honeycutt is one of the returning players Texas A&M hopes will fill the open safety positions.
But it is cause for concern at position of need for the Aggies. This is one of the biggest challenges facing new Texas A&M secondary coach Terry Joseph this spring.

Safety is certainly a position where they need to see on-field improvement, both from the 2013 contributors who are returning this season (Clay Honeycutt, Howard Matthews and Floyd Raven) and the new bodies that could step in.

So while Miles -- an ESPN 300 recruit who signed in the 2013 class -- didn’t play (he redshirted after missing all of preseason training camp recovering from a knee injury), he certainly was a candidate to do so this season. Losing him is impactful, especially considering his potential and the rough end to Class of 2014 recruiting at the position.

Texas A&M had an ESPN 300 safety committed to them for months in Dylan Sumner-Gardner, but he switched his commitment to Boise State in early January after former secondary coach Marcel Yates left his post in Aggieland to accept the defensive coordinator position at Boise State. Even before Sumner-Gardner’s switch, the Aggies were still trying to add another safety to the 2014 recruiting class.

The loss made finding a safety even more urgent in the class. The Aggies long recruited ESPN 300 safety Steven Parker II (who signed with Oklahoma) and made a late run at ESPN 300 safety Mattrell McGraw (who signed with Oregon), not to mention other ESPN 300 prospects whom they recruited earlier in the process but decided on other programs.

The Aggies were able to land a safety late in the 2014 recruiting cycle when three-star athlete Donovan Wilson (Shreveport, La./Woodlawn) committed four days before national signing day and inked a letter of intent with the Aggies. He will enroll at Texas A&M for the fall semester, but whether he will be able to have an impact this fall is unknown until he arrives on campus.

Texas A&M has commitments from two elite safeties in the 2015 recruiting class in ESPN Junior 300 prospects Justin Dunning and Larry Pryor Jr., but that has no bearing on this fall.

What is known is that the Aggies need the three who played the most last season to improve and for others to contribute. One name Sumlin mentioned on Thursday was junior safety Devonta Burns, a 6-foot, 214-pounder who contributed mostly on special teams last season.

“Devonta Burns is having a really, really good camp,” Sumlin said. “He’s been around here a long time and really was a good special teams player for us from game three, four, five, on. It’s about time for him to start showing up and he has. You’ve got three guys back there [Honeycutt, Matthews and Raven] who have played a lot, not always well, but have played and are experienced and need to step up. I think Devonta is right in the mix with the other three guys.”

The Aggies also have the services of 6-3, 213-pound sophomore Jonathan Wiggins, a 2013 signee who saw most of his time on special teams last season. Beyond him, the options consist of mostly walk-ons such as Sam Moeller (last year’s 12th Man) or perhaps even someone like Shane Huhn, a transfer from UTEP who sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules.

Another potential option is using the secondary’s best player, senior cornerback Deshazor Everett, at safety. Everett has flip-flopped between cornerback and safety before, including on certain occasions last season when the Aggies needed the help. However, it appears that Everett is working exclusively at cornerback, and Sumlin said he doesn’t anticipate that changing, at least “Not right now.”

Everett said last week that he has seen improvement from the safety returnees, especially Matthews.

“He’s a different player now,” Everett said of Matthews. “He’s not lagging around or doing it his way. He’s playing hard, he’s going hard every play, he’s being vocal. That’s what we need at the back end from the safeties, because they have to communicate to everybody on the defense. He’s definitely changed.”

“Floyd is definitely understanding the defense more, and Clay has always been a smart player. With the new coaching change and the way we’re running it, it’s set up so that you can always make plays and always be in the right position, and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

The Aggies’ secondary also have new blood in the form of Joseph, the former Nebraska secondary coach. The reviews for Joseph have been positive thus far, including from defensive coordinator Mark Snyder, who called Joseph a “technician” and “fundamentalist.”

Everett also has noticed his new position coach’s impact thus far.

“He’s a real vocal coach and he wants you to do it exactly the way he wants you to do it, and there’s no other way about it,” Everett said. “If you’re not going to do it his way, you’re not going to play, so you have to adjust to that and you have to go out there and do it his way.”

If Joseph has it his way, there will be more answers than questions at safety come August. Fortunately for the Aggies, three weeks remain in spring practice to find some.

Semper Fi notebook: Day 3 

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
7:00
PM ET
News and notes from Day 3 of the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

Delp to announce on Sunday

SEC class rankings analysis 

November, 20, 2013
11/20/13
2:00
PM ET
There wasn’t a lot of movement in the RecruitingNation class rankings in the past week. Like last week, all 14 teams in the SEC are ranked in the top 40. This week, we’ll take a look at several prospects that will help shape the trends in future weeks.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SEC recruiting storylines: Oct. 31 

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
2:00
PM ET

Will it be tricks or treats in the SEC? Let’s take a look at the recruiting news and big visits around the SEC:

[+] EnlargeDalvin Cook
Tom Hauck for Student SportsAfter visits to Texas and Florida State, Arkansas takes its shot at Florida commit Dalvin Cook.
Big visit weekend for Arkansas
After an open week, Arkansas will play host to No. 11 Auburn Saturday in what will be a big visit weekend for the Razorbacks. Bret Bielema and staff are set to host No. 20 overall and Florida commit Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central), ESPN 300 safety Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks), four-star linebacker and TCU commit Jimmie Swain IV (Olathe, Kan./Olathe North) and four-star offensive tackle Frank Ragnow (Victoria, Minn./Chanhassen).

Cook visited Texas in September and Florida State last weekend and will likely take all of his official visits before shutting the door completely on a flip from the Gators.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Parker is considering the Razorbacks along with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State along and Texas A&M, where he will visit Nov. 8.
The Razorback are very much in the mix for tight end DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, Kan./Derby). The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Goolsby has made official visits to Oklahoma, Florida, Ohio State and Arkansas and is scheduled to be at Kansas State this weekend.

Miami-FSU has SEC implications
Two of the official visitors in Tallahassee over the weekend are top targets of SEC programs. No. 11 Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and No. 48 Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp) will be making official visits to FSU this weekend, and the SEC eyes will be upon them. While Malone has had the visit scheduled for months, the 6-foot, 195-pound Brown just decided to officially visit Tallahassee this weekend, and that will certainly have the attention of LSU and Texas A&M. When looking at Malone, this is FSU’s chance to sway the Tennessee lean who has also made official visits to Georgia and Ohio State with Clemson scheduled for Nov. 23. Seminoles commit Markell Pack (Purvis, Miss./Purvis) will also be making his official visit to Florida State. While he remains committed to Jimbo Fisher and staff, Ole Miss remains in the picture for the No. 92 prospect.

Among the unofficial visitors scheduled to be in Tallahassee Saturday who are highly coveted by SEC programs are No. 9 Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover), No. 25 Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis), No. 61 Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman). Dupre is considered an LSU lean and Rudolph an FSU lean.

In the class of 2015, No. 6 overall Martez Ivey (Apopka, Fla./Apopka) and No. 48 CeCe Jefferson (Glen Saint Mary, Fla./Baker County) are scheduled to be on campus, among dozens of others.

Alabama pushing Michigan for Hand
Five-star defensive end and No. 6 overall Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) made an official visit to Alabama over the weekend, and early indications are the Crimson Tide knocked it out of the park as expected and have cut into Michigan’s sizeable lead following his September visit to Ann Arbor. A final official visit, to Florida on Nov. 9 is all that remains for the 6-foot-4, 262-pound Hand before announcing his decision Nov. 14.

Texas A&M flips a big one
Texas A&M will lose its senior left tackle to the NFL after this season, and junior right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi will have a decision to make following the season, even though a return for his senior season looks likely at this point. Losing one for sure, and the possibility of both starting tackles following Luke Joeckel’s departure last year has made the future of the position a big priority for the Aggies in the 2014 class. On Monday, Kevin Sumlin and staff flipped former Arkansas commit Jermaine Eluemunor (Rockaway, N.J./Lackawanna College) following his official visit to College Station over the weekend. After missing out on Tennessee commit Dontavius Blair (Anniston, Ala./Garden City Community College) and the decision of Avery Gennesy (Southhaven, Miss./East Mississippi Community College) still hanging in the balance, snagging the talented Eluemunor was a big win for the Aggies.

The commitment capped an amazing 10-day run that included commitments from five-star defensive end and No. 5 overall Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin), No. 191 Qualen Cuningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), ESPN Junior 300 No. 10 Daylon Mack (Gladewater, Texas/Gladewater) and Eluemunor.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The Backyard Bowl, the game pitting Oklahoma high school football powers Jenks and Tulsa Union, is one of the biggest football attractions of the Sooner State -- on any level. More than 19,000 fans were in attendance Friday to watch the two teams play at the University of Tulsa's Chapman Stadium.

ESPN 300 safety Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) did his part to help his team beat Union, 20-16. In addition to offering his normal defensive back duties, Parker also finished the game with four catches for 89 yards, including a 47-yard reception early in the game.

Parker showed his versatility in the win, and that versatility is going to make one college program very happy next season.

For which school? That’s for Parker to announce -- at a later date.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The Nike Football Training Camp series will continue outside of Dallas on Sunday. Athletes will trek to Allen, Texas, the home of one of the most impressive high school stadiums in the country. Allen Eagles Stadium, a $60-million facility, opened last year and featured nearly 22,000 fans watching Texas powers Allen and Southlake Carroll clash.

Here are five storylines to watch on Sunday.

Talented DBs aplenty

It’s been said on multiple occasions that the 2014 class may be one of the strongest in years at producing big-time defensive backs in the region. The battle for defensive back MVP has the potential of being extremely competitive with players such as Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville), Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) and Arrion Springs (San Antonio/Roosevelt) expected to be in attendance. Chris Hardeman (Houston/Alief Taylor) has committed to LSU, while Dylan Sumner-Gardner (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite) and Armani Watts (Forney, Texas/North Forney) have pledged to Texas A&M. Deionte Thompson (Orange, Texas/West Orange-Stark), a 2015 prospect, has verbally committed to Alabama. All of the DBs will have their shots in one-on-one drills against equally talented ESPN Watch List receivers such as Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis), K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and Texas commit Lorenzo Joe (Abilene, Texas/Cooper).


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The secret is out about ESPN Watch List safety Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks), and now Parker is starting to get out himself.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

This is what Oklahoma fans were afraid might happen. This is why OU fans wanted ESPN Watch List safety Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) to commit to the Sooners by this point.

It was close to happening on a couple of occasions, but Parker stayed patient. And last Wednesday is exactly why he has chosen this path.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Going into last weekend, Texas A&M had a little ground to make up when it came to the race for Katy (Texas) Seven Lakes defensive end Jarrett Johnson.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound prospect already had visited Texas, but his visit to Aggieland closed the gap in the race. The Aggies made quite the impression on Johnson, enough for him to call the race "even."


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Mint Condition: Manziel Heisman Jersey For Sale
SCP Auctions vice president Dan Imler breaks down how his company was able to acquire Johnny Manziel's Texas A&M game-worn home jersey from Manziel's Heisman season and how much it could go for at auction.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

SEC SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 8/28
Saturday, 8/30
Sunday, 8/31