Texas A&M Football: 5 Freshmen Who Must Shine in Fall Practice
The Texas A&M football team returns 14 starters from a team that went 9-4 in 2013. If they want to improve on that record in 2014, then they are going to need a number of true freshmen to step in and make significant contributions.
The Aggies need immediate help at wide receiver, on the defensive line and at linebacker. There is also the small matter of finding a starting quarterback.
Texas A&M was a very young team in 2013. Head coach Kevin Sumlin made the decision to go with talented youth over experience and had 14 true freshmen in the two-deep who saw significant action.
The Aggies will again be forced to rely on true freshmen to step in and, in many cases, assume starting roles in order for the 2014 season to be a success. Texas A&M will put a young team on the field again, but the level of talent that is present should help overcome some of the inexperience.
This is a look at the freshmen who the coaches need to see shine in fall practices.
NG Zaycoven Henderson
Other than at quarterback, the one area where the Aggies need the most help from the incoming freshman class would be on the defensive line. With the dismissal of Isaiah Golden from the team, the Aggies need Zaycoven Henderson to step in and start at nose guard immediately.
Henderson is a 6'1", 310-pound defensive tackle from Longview, Texas. He was ranked as a 4-star recruit by 247sports.com.
Henderson enroled at A&M in January and was able to participate in the offseason workouts and spring drills. He is currently listed as the starter at nose guard in the Aggies' depth chart.
The Aggie coaches are counting on Henderson to plug up the middle against the run and force the opposing offensive line to double-team him. Henderson needs to have a strong fall practice in order to alleviate some of the concerns about the Aggies' defensive line.
S Donovan Wilson
Donovan Wilson is a 6'1", 185-pound defensive back from Woodlawn High School in Shreveport. He was ranked as a 3-star recruit by 247sports.com after snagging 13 interceptions his senior year in high school.
The Aggies won a recruiting battle that went down the wire with Utah for his signature. He is expected to play safety for A&M in 2014.
Wilson did not enroll at A&M early so he has only the summer and fall practices to impress the Aggie coaches. He has legitimate SEC size for a safety, and the Aggies have a tremendous need for depth at the position.
If he has a strong fall camp, then he should see time immediately on special teams and in the rotation at safety. Wilson has proven ball skills as evidenced by his 13 interceptions in high school in 2013. The Aggies could use someone who can create some turnovers in the secondary.
WR Speedy Noil
Speedy Noil may end up being the best freshman in the SEC in 2014. The 5'11", 190-pound wide receiver out of Edna Karr High School in New Orleans was the No. 1 ranked receiver recruit in the country by 247sports.com.
Noil enrolled at A&M in January and participated in spring practices. He was impressive enough during the spring to earn a starting spot at slot receiver on the depth chart.
Noil needs to have a strong fall practice in order to maintain his starting spot at a very competitive position. The Aggies lost three starting wide receivers from the 2013 team, so if Noil has a strong fall camp, it will calm some of the worries of the coaching staff about who is going to replace the playmakers from the 2013 team.
Noil is talented enough to lead the Aggies in receiving as a freshman. He could be a difference maker on offense and special teams in his first year on campus.
QB Kyle Allen
Kyle Allen was the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the nation in 2014. The 6'3", 205-pound athlete was ranked as a 5-star prospect and the No. 5 overall recruit in the nation by 247sports.com.
Allen is engaged in a battle for the starting quarterback spot at A&M. He needs to have a strong fall camp because that is when head coach Kevin Sumlin will decide who will line up under center to take the first snap against South Carolina.
Allen is currently listed as the starter on the depth chart. Even if Allen does not win the starting spot, he still needs to have a strong fall camp so the coaches can be confident in him as a backup.
The Aggies have only two scholarship quarterbacks on their roster. They need both to look good in the fall so the coaches and team will know that all is not lost if the starter goes down.
DE Myles Garrett
Myles Garrett may be the most important player in the Aggies' 2014 recruiting class. He was the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation according to 247sports.com. The Aggies are counting on the 6'5", 250-pound defensive end to provide a pass rush from their front four in 2014.
The 2013 Aggie defense could not get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks without bringing a blitz. This allowed quarterbacks the time to pick apart the Aggies' secondary.
Garrett has the chance to start at weak-side defensive end for the Aggies if he has a strong fall camp. He and sophomore defensive end Daeshon Hall should give the Aggies more pressure off the edge.
More pressure should equate to more turnovers and more opportunities for the offense to score points. Garrett could single-handedly take pressure off of an offense that is making the transition from Johnny Manziel to a new quarterback.
Garrett did not graduate early, so he needs to have a strong fall camp with the pads on in order to earn some playing time in 2014.