COLLEGE STATION, Texas – One of the priorities for Texas A&M during preseason camp was finding a wide receiver to take some of the pressure off Christian Kirk. Judging by early reports, A&M may have found its man in true freshman Jhamon Ausbon.
Ausbon (6 feet 2, 220 pounds) is a Houston native who spent his final high school season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Ausbon, who enrolled early and went through spring practice, was a four-star recruit considered one of the top-75 overall prospects in the nation in the 2017 recruiting cycle.
Kirk is one of the best receivers in the nation. But the only receiver returning for 2017 with any experience is senior Damion Ratley, who had two receptions for 26 yards in 2016. Ratley also has had a problem with drops.
After Thursday’s practice, which saw A&M go to work on Kyle Field for the first time since the spring game, coach Kevin Sumlin seemed pleased with Ausbon.
“He has been good; he was good in the spring,” Sumlin said. “He continues to play well as a big strong guy who has good speed and is really, really talented.”
Ausbon seems to possess elite physical ability to go along with great hands and the ability to high-point the football and go make a play.
Draw it up, throw it up, turn it up.
— AggieFBLife (@aggiefblife) August 10, 2017
Ausbon drew a comparison from his coach to former Texas A&M receiver Robert Ferguson.
“He’s a different guy, built differently than a lot of guys,” Sumlin said after Thursday’s practice. “He’s built like Robert Ferguson for those who remember him. A big, strong and athletic guy.”
Ferguson only played one season at Texas A&M in 2000 after transferring from Tyler Junior College, but made an instant impact for the Aggies. He was named the offensive MVP for the 2000 season, with 58 catches for 885 yards and six touchdowns. Ferguson also garnered first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2000 before being drafted in the second round by the Green Bay Packers.
Ausbon must show he can be a consistent, reliable playmaker opposite Kirk. As for the guy(s) who will be passing the football, Sumlin reiterated that no decision had been made and that all three competitors – senior Jake Hubenak, redshirt freshman Nick Starkel and true freshman Kellen Mond — remain in the hunt.
“We evaluate those guys every day numerically,” Sumlin said. “There is the statistical part, and there’s also a moving the team part that might not show up in the stat sheet.”
Sumlin did hint at a timetable. The Aggies have three scrimmages in the next nine days – Sunday, next Thursday and next Sunday. That gives the coaches three more opportunities to see the quarterbacks in live, 11-on-11 action.
“Two weeks out (from the opener) in the past is where I have been, at the latest. So that’s probably where that is,” Sumlin said. Presumably, then, mark your calendars for August 20 – two weeks to the day before A&M opens the season at the Rose Bowl against Josh Rosen and the UCLA Bruins.
(You can follow Dalton Hughes on Twitter @_DaltonHughes)
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