Texas A&M Football: Final Winners and Losers from Spring Ball
The Texas A&M football team completed its 2014 spring practices on April 13. The Aggies had a few players step up and a few who hurt their standings on the team during the spring.
Spring practice is a time for coaches to work on the fundamentals with the players and to experiment with new ideas. Coaches will switch players around to different positions to see how they respond, and the spring practices allow them to get a closer look at some of the younger members of the roster.
The coaches moved some players around during the spring with success. They also left the spring season with some lingering questions at certain positions.
This is a look at the winners and losers from the Aggies' spring practices.
Winner: Germain Ifedi
The Aggies coaches experimented with moving sophomore offensive lineman Germain Ifedi from right guard to right tackle. The move was a resounding success, and he will be the starting right tackle when the Aggies face South Carolina on August 28.
The Aggies entered spring practice with four of their five starters on the offensive line returning from the 2013 season. Senior tackle Cedric Ogbuehi made the switch from the right side to the left side, which left a vacancy at right tackle.
It was assumed that incoming junior college offense linemen Jermaine Eluemunor and Avery Gennesy would compete for that vacant right tackle spot. While the coaches were giving the junior college linemen a look, they moved Ifedi out there and Eluemunor and Gennesy inside.
Ifedi excelled at tackle, and now the JUCO linemen will compete for the starting spot at right guard. Ifedi appears to be the next in line after Ogbuehi to move over to left tackle. His emergence at right tackle was one of the most positive aspects of the spring for the football program.
Loser: Reggie Chevis
Redshirt freshman Reggie Chevis had a chance to compete for a starting spot at middle linebacker during spring practices. The 6'1", 255-pound linebacker is the heaviest linebacker on the roster.
That is notable because the Aggies were undersized at linebacker in 2013, and he offers them some beef in the middle. The Aggies need some size in the middle in order to hold up against the bigger backs in the SEC.
Chevis struggled in pass coverage from the middle linebacker spot. Sophomore Jordan Mastrogiovanni excels in coverage and won the starting middle linebacker job during the spring.
Chevis excels against the run and will knock people back when he hits them. Mastrogiovanni struggled to get off blocks as a freshman and is not as instinctive as you would like in the middle.
Despite these deficiencies, Chevis was unable to beat him out. Aggies fans should expect to see him on the field on the goal line and in short-yardage defense.
Winner: Speedy Noil
Freshman wide receiver Speedy Noil justified his lofty recruiting ranking by putting on a show during the spring. The 5'11", 193-pound freshman was electric on the field.
He impressed coaches with his speed and ability to make people miss. He has great hands and displayed surprising polish at wide receiver for a guy who spent much of his senior season in high school playing quarterback.
Noil's performance during the spring earned him a starting spot for the fall. He was one of the most impressive players on the field for the Aggies and appears to be a future star for the maroon and white.
Loser: Mark Snyder
Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder had to be as frustrated as any coach in American coming out of spring practice. He has no idea what his defense will look like in 2014 because of the suspensions he had to deal with during the spring.
Sophomore linebacker Darian Claiborne was going to move to the weak side during the spring. Snyder did not get a chance to see what his starting unit at linebacker would look like since Claiborne missed the entire session.
The coaches will have to decide in the fall whether the best combination is with Mastrogiovanni in the middle and Claiborne on the weak side, or if it is better to play Claiborne in the middle.
Sophomore Isaiah Golden was the starter at nose guard for much of 2013. He was suspended for the spring also. Instead of being able to rotate in defensive tackles alongside Golden to see what makes up the best combination, Snyder was forced to make do without Golden. As a result, the defensive line rotation is still up in the air going into the summer.
Winner: Zaycoven Henderson
Freshman defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson was able to take advantage of Isaiah Golden's absence and make a positive impression with coaches and teammates during the spring. If the season were to start today, the 6'1", 310-pound freshman would be the starter at nose guard.
He enrolled early and participated in winter conditioning and then spring practice. He impressed strength coach Larry Jackson with his performance in the weight room and was able to transfer that strength to his play on the field.
Henderson is very hard to move on the inside and has good quickness for an athlete of his size. He will be in the rotation at nose guard in the fall and appears well on his way toward becoming an impact player on the defense.