Texas A&M fans may be focusing their attention on the quarterback battle, but coach Kevin Sumlin says another position is showing real signs of progress. He said the defensive tackle position is “a real plus for us.”
“Zaycoven (Henderson) and (Kingsley) Keke give you some real size and twitch in there,” Sumlin said during a spring practice news conference. “Daylon (Mack) is coming on. If T.D. (Moton) can continue to do what he’s doing, and Reggie (Chevis) has been a real steady backup, a good role player, you’re rolling five or six 300-pounders out there.”
That group is all available for practice with the exception of Henderson, still recovering from a foot fracture sustained in the Texas Bowl.
“It’s different on a 300-pound guy,” Sumlin said. “If he breaks it again, we’ve got some real issues.”
On offense, Sumlin is impressed by the athleticism of his young receiving corps, but he said they still have a lot to learn.
“You’ve got four or five guys out there just running all over the field. They’ve just got to understand that it’s not man-to-man all the time,” Sumlin said. “They like to run through zones, and pretty soon, one of them’s going to get hit real hard and they’re going to figure that out.”
Sumlin said wide receiver Christian Kirk, the Aggies’ top returning pass catcher, is helping the transition for the newcomers.
“His preparation is unbelievable,” Sumlin said. “He’s a great example for these young guys.”
Sumlin said Texas A&M is exploring different alignments in the heart of the offensive line, where Colton Prater and Erik McCoy are getting reps at center and guard “to give us some options beyond what we have right now.” Prater started at guard last season, while McCoy was the starting center. Koda Martin and Keaton Sutherland appear settled at the starting tackle positions.
Sumlin said the safety combination of Larry Pryor and Armani Watts has been working effectively. Now, the task is to develop depth at the position and to determine the best way to use senior Donovan Wilson.
“We’re going to figure out what we’re going to do, whether we’re a complete nickel team, if Donovan can handle that,” Sumlin said.
One thing Sumlin isn’t worried about this year: In the past, he’s seen skill players who shine in non-contact drills but fade quickly once the going got tough.
“They do a good job and then, as soon as the pads come on, they disappear for a whole ‘nother year,” he said. “We haven’t had that.”
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