The Replacements

Mark Passwaters, Editor
Aggie Yell

Texas A&M entered spring practice with a number of holes to fill after an 8-5 season. AY takes a look at each position opening and where things stand now.

Quarterback

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The contenders: Redshirt Senior Jake Hubenak, Redshirt Freshman Nick Starkel, True Freshman Kellen Mond

Spring standouts: None

Where things stand: There's still no clear-cut leader for this job. Mond and Starkel have both gotten more snaps in scrimmages, but if the season started today, Hubenak would probably get the call. Starkel may have performed the best this spring, but not by a wide margin. This will remain up for grabs until two weeks before the start of the season.

Left outside receiver

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The contenders: Senior Damion Ratley and Redshirt Freshmen Quartney Davis, Clyde Chriss and Kendrick Rogers

Spring standouts: None

Where things stand: Ratley would start if they played tomorrow, but his catching remains inconsistent. The coaching staff thinks Davis will be able to perform at a much higher level this summer, when he's more than a year removed from tearing his ACL. As a result, he may be the guy to watch. The only one who seems to played himself out of the equation right now is Rogers (who did catch a TD in the spring game).

Right outside receiver

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The contenders: True Freshmen Jhamon Ausbon and Hezekiah Jones

Spring standouts: Ausbon

Where things stand: This one is over. Ausbon looked impressive from the day he walked onto the practice field and his play was just as good. Jones should be a very nice edition, but Ausbon quickly showed he could be A&M's next superstar receiver.

Right slot receiver

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The contenders: Redshirt Sophomore Kirk Merritt, Redshirt Freshman Aaron Hansford

Spring standouts: Hansford

Where things stand: In spite of Hansford's excellent spring, which certainly vaulted him into the rotation, Merritt is a guy A&M has been wanted to get on the field for years and his performance this spring did nothing to convince them he wasn't ready. He's strong, fast and elusive, making him a good compliment to Christian Kirk.

As for Hansford, he's becoming what AY thought he would be originally: an H-Back or standup slot receiver. He's the big, Ricky Seals-Jones type target who can also stay in and block. He'll get plenty of playing time, it would appear.

Left tackle

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Contenders: Redshirt Junior Koda Martin

Spring standouts: None

Where things stand: Martin received no serious competition this spring and shouldn't in the summer. He's the guy A&M has expected would eventually take this job for three years, and his time is now.

Right tackle

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Contenders: Junior Keaton Sutherland, Redshirt Junior Tank Davis, Redshirt Freshman Kellen Diesch, incoming transfer Christian Daimler

Spring standouts: Sutherland

Where things stand: Davis got the first reps with the first team and vanished. Diesch got his shot and Jim Turner didn't like how that went either. Sutherland moved outside after the first few practices and has remained there. Daimler may push him, but this is now Sutherland's job to lose.

Right defensive end

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Contenders: Senior Jarrett Johnson, Junior Landis Durham

Spring standouts: Johnson

Where things stand: You've got several incoming players who will alter the equation here. It's just a matter of which side they end up playing. Johnson had a solid spring, but that's not enough to say he's the guy over some combination of Micheal Clemons, Tyree Johnson and Ondario Robinson.

Left defensive end

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Contenders: Senior Qualen Cunningham

Spring standouts: None

Where things stand: Cunningham is the only guy mentioned because he's the only scholarship player at the position at the moment. He's in the same boat as Johnson, mentioned immediately above.

WILL Linebacker

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Contenders: True Freshmen Anthony Hines and Santino Marchiol, Junior Dwaine Thomas

Spring standouts: Hines

Where things stand: Hines has the job. That was never really in doubt since the decision was made for him to play outside and leave Otaro Alaka and Tyrel Dodson inside. Both Marchiol and Thomas will play, it's just a matter of how they're used (Marchiol could play inside or at SAM as well).

Strong safety

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The contenders: Senior Donovan Wilson, Redshirt Sophomore Larry Pryor, True Freshman Keldrick Carper

Spring standouts: Pryor, Carper

Where things stand: Wilson will play here when the Aggies don't use a nickel; otherwise, Pryor is the leader in the clubhouse for the "starting" job. Carper, who is still learning to play the position, awed with his size and quick pickup of the position.

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