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Texas A&M Football: 5 Spring Practice Positional Battles to Watch

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Texas A&M Football: 5 Spring Practice Positional Battles to Watch

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas A&M Aggies have experienced a lot of success so far through two seasons in the SEC as they won 11 games two years ago and won nine games this past season with a .500 conference record; however, with two great recruiting class the past couple of seasons, the Aggies must focus their attention on the current players on campus and address a few areas of concern on both sides of the football in spring practice.

The Aggies lost top players either to graduation or to the NFL Draft such as quarterback Johnny Manziel, defensive backs Toney Hurd, Jr. and Tramain Jacobs, and wide receiver Mike Evans.

Texas A&M returns solid group of starters on both sides of the ball, but when competing in the SEC, much less the SEC West at that, there can be very few holes in the positional groups to have a chance to win not only a conference championship, but a national championship as well.

The following article features five key position battles that the Aggies need to solidify in spring practice heading toward summer and fall camp. There are not many position groups that feature a lack of depth, but on the other hand there is a key position that must be addressed immediately.

The Aggies must rely on experienced and inexperienced players to rise to the occasion and step up to help Texas A&M win their first SEC conference crown.

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5. Defensive Back

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In the defensive backfield, the Aggies return their second-leading tackler and leader in interceptions in Howard Matthews, but they lose two seniors as Toney Hurd, Jr. and Tramain Jacobs have been lost to graduation.

The Aggies secondary is not necessarily a place for concern, but they need a defensive back to step up and play at the level of Matthews. The top three returners in the secondary battling for positions will be senior Deshazor Everett, who recorded 73 tackles and two interceptions a season ago, as well as junior Devante Harris who had 56 tackles and one interception. Also in the defensive backfield will be senior Clay Honeycutt had 44 tackles and one interception.

These players are all very experienced, but the Aggies need them to have a good spring to become one of the best secondaries in the SEC.

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4. Defensive Line

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The defensive line for the Aggies loses graduating seniors Ivan Robinson and Kirby Ennis from last year’s team who combined for 38 tackles and three sacks between them both.

Gavin Stansbury has proven himself to be one of the top playmakers on the defensive line as he recorded 47 tackles and three sacks a year ago, but Texas A&M needs another playmaker to help stop the run inside and create a pass-rush off the edge.

Junior Alonzo Williams, who had nearly three sacks and 27 tackles a year ago, has to be one to step up and take some of the pressure off Stansbury. Note that incoming freshman defensive end Myles Garrett, the top-rated defensive end in the nation last year, will also have a huge impact, but he will not enroll until the fall.

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3. Linebacker

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At linebacker, the Aggies may have a bit of concern as they graduated their leading tackler from a year ago in Steven Jenkins who led the team with 96 tackles on the year.

Returning for Texas A&M is sophomore Darian Claiborne, who finished his freshman season last year third on the team in tackles with 89 overall.

The Aggies have Claiborne back, but they must rely heavily on sophomore Jordan Mastrogiovanni who played sparingly last year and reeled in 26 tackles. Also, sophomore Shaan Washington will battle Mastrogiovanni for the position. Washington also recorded 26 tackles last year, but he was able to record three sacks and presents a pass-rushing threat.

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2. Wide Receiver

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On the offensive side of the ball, one of the biggest losses for the Aggies is losing wide receiver Mike Evans to the NFL Draft and senior Derel Walker and Travis Labhart.

Evans led the team with nearly 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Walker and Labhart were third and fourth on the team in receiving yards with 658 and 626 yards a piece.

The Aggies do return their second-leading receiver from a year ago, Malcolme Kennedy, but beyond Kennedy’s experience, the Aggies are very thin at having play-makers at the wide receiver positions. This position will have fierce competition in the spring for the No. 2 position between Ricky Seals-Jones, LaQuvionte Gonzales and Sabian Holmes.

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1. Quarterback

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The main concern for Texas A&M moving forward is undoubtedly the quarterback position. The Aggies lost Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel to the NFL Draft and will need to find his replacement in the spring practices.

One of the best choices is incoming freshman Kyle Allen. Allen enrolled early in January and was rated as the No. 1 overall quarterback in the country for the 2014 class. Rising senior Matt Joeckel is the upperclassman returner who threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns in limited action last season. Also, sophomore Kenny Hill will be in the mix.

Quarterback is the most position in sports, and the Aggies will have a tough time replacing arguably one of the best players in the school’s history.