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Kevin Sumlin
Mark Snyder
Ben Malena
Toney Hurd

Sumlin, Aggies welcome start of spring practice

By TexAgs Studios

More from TexAgs Studios
March 1, 2013
5587

Transcripts compiled on-site by TexAgs' Beau Holder.


Kevin Sumlin

Opening statement...
Sumlin: "Real excited, obviously, to get spring football underway and kick off 2013. I think we've come through a complete process with signing a class, everybody knows we have seven or eight new guys on campus that have been in the mix. Coach Jackson's been doing a great job with our offseason program and we've actually had a couple agility sessions with our players. They're non-specific, just agility training sessions, to get our new coaches acclimated with our guys and give them a feel for what the guys can do.

The first two days will be non-padded, helmet only. Tuesday and Thursday will be our first full-padded practice. Then we'll take some time for spring break and some evaluations. The scrimmages ... after that will be open. We'll have a Saturday, we'll come back with our Friday Night Lights, which is a very, very big event for us for getting players in Kyle Field for the atmosphere of a night crowd. Those three real scrimmages will be open to the public.

"Those are opportunities ... like I said last year, for us to get evaluation on some guys that have contributed very little or haven't played at all, but give them a game atmosphere with the coaches off the field and give us an opportunity to evaluate them.

To answer another couple questions early, from an injury standpoint, guys who will not be participating in spring: Justin bass had a knee injury the last game of the year and had surgery, he will not go; Kirby Ennis had surgery after the Cotton Bowl; Steven Jenkins tore a labrum in the Cotton Bowl and is recovering from shoulder surgery.

"Julien Obioha missed the Cotton Bowl and we're going to hold him out of spring football. He started every game for us last year as a true freshman ... he doesn't have to prove his toughness level to us. It'll give some other guys the reps they need — Brandon Alexander, the Taylor brothers. We'll bring Julien back in fall and he'll be ready to go.

"Trey Williams underwent a sports hernia operation three weeks ago. We'll get him back in the last week of spring football. That'll give us an opportunity to work some guys at the running back position that haven't worked. The most surprising [injury] of all was Ivan Robinson, yesterday, tearing his achilles during a conditioning drill. He'll be out for spring football too. That's the most severe thing we have. That's probably a five- or six-month recovery.

"Like this time last year, we have some guys that are new to campus. Our numbers are better from a depth standpoint than a year ago, but for experience, who knows. That's why we like spring football, building leadership, developing new guys ... we fortunately have some guys coming back that have played for us in big games."

On finally getting to work with Brandon Williams and Tra Carson...
Sumlin: "We're excited about it. They did a lot of stuff with the scout team during the season, running other teams' plays. They both got nicked up a bit. You've got to ease those guys back into it. They've been chomping at the bit, had some slight injuries ... but without a doubt they're both very talented guys and very proud guys. They compete very well. We have to be careful how much we give them and we want them to progress over the course of the spring.

"And you've heard me say this before. Age does not equate to experience. They spent last year playing for other teams, not playing for Texas A&M. That's what they did to help us win. This is the first time they're really running our offense. People seem to think just because you're older, you're a better player and know what you're doing. That's not the case. We've got to start these guys off. It starts tomorrow."

On Johnny Manziel having a busy offseason...
Sumlin: "That's part of it. We start practice tomorrow. That has nothing to do with his performance level."

On seeing Edward Pope and others...
Sumlin: "I'm interested in seeing all the young guys. We have a number of guys we redshirted last year. You look at this list, you've got a great mixture and the challenge will be for the guys who have played. We're expecting them, in one year, to be great players. They've got to continue their consistency. Your question about Johnny, Mike Evans is going to face the same deal. We've got to bring these other guys along.

"You look at guys that redshirted ... Mike Matthews, Germain Ifedi, Edward Pope, Sabian Holmes — though he played a little bit — Cam Clear, Ja'Quay ... they have an opportunity to help us. They'll have to come on for us to be successful, particularly in our two-deep. Brandon Alexander hasn't hit the field. We redshirted him. Polo redshirted. Alonzo Williams played in some big games for us. He's 280 in his second year. Wish we could've redshirted him, didn't have that luxury. But he's played in big games. Jordan Points is here.

"We've got some guys here that should be going to the prom in a couple months. Jordan's at 260, giving him a chance. Brett Wade is another guy who just got here. Donnie Baggs ... Tommy Sanders just got here. That's what makes it fun. We've got guys who need to assert themselves during spring football. There's a lot up for grabs and competition is a coach's best friend. That's why we're excited about getting this thing going tomorrow."

On Nate Askew moving to defense...
Sumlin: "He's one of the better athletes on our team. He's going to run a 4.4, jump 40 inches, but for whatever reason it just didn't translate to playing wide receiver. It's kind of an experiment. We're looking to get our best athletes on the field. Where we are at linebacker and at some other positions, if we play with five DBs, he gives us a chance to have a more athletic guy in space. A guy with that kind of ability, who knows, it's worth a try. If it doesn't work out, we'll see. We can always get him back over there.

"Nate was open to it, and we'll see how it goes. I think you can ask him later on in the spring ... body type-wise, he's been holding his weight down in the 225-230 range, not eating, not doing anything, and he's still one of the best athletes on the team. He's lifting, he's running, who knows what's going to happen. Few guys on this football team have the ability that Nate Askew has. It just hasn't translated to the production you would like. Maybe this move will give him that."

On the competitive nature of assistant's salaries...
Sumlin: "It gives our assistant coaches a sense of commitment from our University and our administration. Because of that, it gives us the ability to compete in a very competitive marketplace, particularly in the league we're in. Everything's relative. Without speaking for our staff, I know I'm very appreciative of our administration for how they've handled the transition to the SEC, our ability to compete and put our coaches on a competitive level with other universities, particularly in the SEC.

"For where we're headed and what we're trying to do, everybody is important. We talk about each guy being important in his role, whether he's starting or on scout team, it matters for us to win. All of our coaches, the guys that bought into coming to Texas A&M originally, and into a new league with some different systems, I think our guys are extremely appreciative of how our administration has handled it. It shows the type of commitment that our administration has to not only recruiting good coaches but being able to keep them.

"We lost two guys last year that are now head coaches. And one guy that went form position coach to coordinator with a substantial raise. You're trying to avoid [falling behind] and I think our administration addressed that."

On whether he's thought about how different things are from a year ago...
Sumlin: "We don't have time for that. It's just one thing after another and ... I think people make a big deal of comparing years, comparing this, comparing this player. As a coach, it's college football. I have a different team every year. Seniors move on and new guys come on. To me, there is no comparison. What you want to do is build a program over time so that, as guys grow in the program, they understand ... the older guys start to teach younger guys how things are done.

"The less you find yourself in those situations, the less you're trying to preach every day, the better your team is. We're nowhere near that stage. In every aspect of this program, we're still playing catch-up to everyone in the SEC. In recruiting we're top-10 in the country but fourth or fifth in our division. Depth, we wouldn't be moving a receiver to D-line if we had it. From a recruiting standpoint, we've tried to address our issues and we're trying to catch up.

"A lot of those guys will be here in the fall. But we certainly helped ourselves in the mid-year with the seven or eight guys that are here now. From my standpoint it's always a new team, a new personality. As coaches what you're trying to do is figure out who can do what and put them in the best position to win games."

On Kirby Ennis...
Sumlin: "Kirby — as we do from an administrative standpoint — he's got some things he's going to have to deal with internally. The combination of, one, the suspension, and his knee injury, it's both of those things that are why he isn't on the depth chart. There are some things he's got to do internally to get back to the status he was in before."

On talks with Manziel about managing his fame...
Sumlin: "I didn't call that meeting. Eric Hyman called that meeting. It was about getting on the same page, where [Manziel] was from a support system standpoint from our University, just so he and his parents knew that — from a compliance standpoint, from every standpoint in the University, the SIDs, everything pulling at him — the proper protocol for he and his parents to go through ... everybody was on the same page."

On managing the expectations...
Sumlin: "I would rather it be that way than nobody talk about us at all. It helps recruiting, it helps everything. So that's OK."

On the backup quarterback position...
Sumlin: "Wide open."

On Matt Davis...
Sumlin: "Matt was on scout team last year. I'll be able to talk about that a lot more here in a week or two, just like last year with the quarterback position. Maybe this year you guys will believe me when I tell you who is going to start or back up or what. I can't tell you.

"Here's what it is. I wasn't being [sarcastic] about that. We don't have the ability like other sports to have one-on-one workouts or individual instruction with guys with a football in their hands. We don't have that. We've got 15 days of practice to be able to sit down and evaluate guys. When you ask questions about this or that guy, it's the same question you could have asked me during Cotton Bowl practice.

"I haven't seen [Davis] practice one time. He's got a great attitude. Until we see them practice, I can't answer that. We released this depth chart to let you know who was starting and to let you know the injury situation, and three, to show what we're trying to get accomplished in the next four weeks."

On splitting snaps at quarterback...
Sumlin: "Johnny needs to continue to get better. So I wouldn't look for the reps to change much more than they would, particularly early in the spring. And when you have new coordinators, there's going to be a different personality to the offense. I don't look for the reps, particularly early in the spring, to change much more than they would in preparation for a game. Couple weeks left in the spring when we're trying to figure out where the other guys are, that might change a bit.

"But we need to get in, get the rust knocked off. Not just him ... I'd say the same thing about Jake Matthews. Cedric has played a lot of football but is moving to right tackle. I look for those guys to get a bunch of reps because the misconception is that it's just one player, but offenses and defenses play as 11 guys. So you need to have those 11 guys or the core of those 13 guys on the field as much as possible so you as a coaching staff can evaluate their performance and so they can get used to playing with each other."

On the Matthews family tree...
Sumlin: "What's the deal? It depends on which side of it. Both sides have done pretty well for themselves. Jake is getting the opportunity to move to left tackle and he's looking forward to it. He's been working extremely hard in the offseason. Mike is really coming on. He was about 260 when he got here and he cracked 280 maybe a week or two ago. If he carries that weight into the fall, he'll be competing hard with Ben Compton.

"Those guys have got a great bloodline, great work ethic, great family history, and they're smart, tough guys. They're what coaches love the most, which you don't see: The low-maintenance good player. I'm sure big brother will help little brother along a bit in practice. Ultimately Mike has a lot on his plate, running center and replacing as valuable a player as we had last year in Pat [Lewis]. We put a lot on Pat in protection and targeting, which allowed Johnny to just play football.

"There's a bit more on Mike this year, being able to do that. Maybe the roles will be shared a bit more because Johnny's got more experience. Mike doesn't have any. That's something you practice. Ben's got more experience. One thing Pat did was push the tempo and get us targeted and protections set in a very rapid way. That's the hardest part for any young center, particularly in this offense."

On what he most wants to know when spring ends...
Sumlin: "You know, it used to be there was a time where you wanted your two-deep set. When you get your team in a situation, as we continue to improve depth-wise, where your two-deep is set ... we've got a number of players on this list, this two-deep, that haven't played. I think we've got to get a number of these guys who have been role players ready to be serious contributors in this program.

"At the end of spring practice, that's going to be the big evaluation individually. Where you are and how you've handled spring football. Have you moved from a guy who hasn't played at all to a serious contributor on this football team? Some are freshmen, some are guys that have been around for a while and haven't played. But all in all, there are a number of guys who are capable. For whatever reason, the light hasn't come on yet or they haven't moved forward.

"For us, we'd like to have a two-deep. I don't know, because of numbers in the spring, if that's going to be the case — or will ever be the case, because of the way programs are now. We've got to replace some people but, more than anything else, we've got some guys here that have been role players that have to step forward. And we have to develop some leadership on this team.

"That's not a knock on anybody — that's every year. Every team, every spring, develops an identity and some leadership that's going to carry you through the summer. And in the fall, there's another identity that comes to pass because there'll be other guys that come into the mix.

"Last year's group of seniors did a great job of leading this team. We have a leadership council we vote on after spring football to develop things in the summer and to fall camp. Just because you're a senior doesn't mean you're a leader. We were as dependent on Mike Evans and Johnny last year as we were on Sean Porter. Their ability to lead this team is a big deal. We're going to have to figure out who our leaders are and move on from there."

On what specifically he wants to see improve in Manziel...
Sumlin: "I don't know that there's anybody out there that doesn't need to get better. We'll see where he is next week, we'll sit down and ... we've already gone through all the cut-ups from last year and he understands some things he can do a lot better. If you watch video from Game 1 to Game 13, you can see the improvement he made as a passer. As a quarterback. Just being able to see things and do things a lot better in real time.

"The offseason, he can help his footwork, his mechanics, his thought process and overall knowledge of the offense. That's all part of it and playing the game. Those are really the specifics that Coach Spavital has already sat down and talked with him about. And just his approach. One thing about him that a lot of people think they see but don't really know is how hard he is on himself.

"As much as we want him to improve, as hard as we can be on him, nobody is harder on him than himself. We look for him to get better this spring."


Mark Snyder

On what stands out to him thus far...
Snyder: "We've got a bunch of new guys. Bunch of new, fresh faces. Some guys that haven't been on campus long, some that haven't played much for us. You look up front, there's a lot of new there."

On the challenge of restarting in the spring...
Snyder: "It's a new year. That's the one thing about college football that's different than the NFL. You've always got a new group of guys coming in. Guy gets injured, another's got to step up. But it gives guys the chance over spring ball to show us they can contribute. That's what makes it fun, having new faces, guys that contributed a little bit becoming more contributors. That's what spring ball is all about."

On Floyd Raven to safety...
Snyder: "We're trying to play to Floyd's strengths. We're trying to find a role and a place for him. Will it be safety? We'll see. He played outside linebacker a few games. One thing about Floyd, he can run. And he's a tough guy. We're going to see if he can take over Steven Terrell's role.

"Howard [Matthews], he really improved last year. He'll be the leader at safety helping Floyd. He'll be the mouthpiece. We'll see if we can bring Floyd's speed to the safety position, because you know I blitz that position a lot."

On new linebacker coach Mark Hagen's adaptation...
Snyder: "That is a very vital position for us, in my opinion, losing Sean and Stew. He's picked it up very quick. I'm impressed. He's a good football coach. He's a fundamentalist. He's going to have the ability this spring and next fall to mold these guys the way he wants to mold them."

On whether Brandon Alexander is in the conversation this year...
Snyder: "I sure hope so. Based on what we've seen and the little bit of him we've seen, it looks like he's got more brightness to his eyes. I sure hope so, because he's big and pretty and he has some tools. That's what spring is all about — who's going to step up, be an X-factor? We would definitely like to see Brandon Alexander come along. Because he does have some tools."

On the new names in the depth chart...
Snyder: "It's a bit out of necessity, but that will help these guys. They'll learn how to work with Larry [Jackson], learn some things that typically provides trouble for young guys."

On the Taylor brothers...
Snyder: "Tyrell's a bit ahead. Tyrone didn't practice much. He's a bit bigger than Tyrell, little heavier, but they've both got twitchiness to them. That's part of being twins. We need them to come on. With the loss of Damontre, we need them to have a good spring and stay healthy."

On Damontre Moore's combine performance and whether he's talked to him...
Snyder: "He called me the day before he was to test. I haven't talked to him since."


Ben Malena

On his individual offseason development...
Malena: "Just my work ethic. I stepped up my work ethic a little bit, worked with a chip on my shoulder. I'm leading one of the best groups of running backs in the country and I need to set examples for those guys. That's where I've improved."

On the running game expanding with the focus on Manziel...
Malena: "When you have a quarterback like that you have no choice as a defensive coach to try to stop that guy. But it also helps an offense if you can get a good run game established. If we can get the run game established, it's going to be pretty, pretty tough to stop our offense this year."

On Manziel...
Malena: "Still the same guy. Still works hard, still the leader of our offense, still the quarterback of our offense. The off-campus situation, can't really speak to that because we're not Johnny Manziel. But he's still the same guy."

On how the coaches addressed the team last year and whether its' different this year...
Malena: "When Coach Sumlin first got here he told us that we had enough talent and we could beat anybody. Now that we know for a fact that we have enough talent and a new group of guys coming in, we know we have a target on our back. The work ethic of the team collectively has stepped up. We know last year's success was last year's success but this year will be harder because now you have a target on your back."

On what excites him in the spring...
Malena: "I'm very excited about the offensive line. The move of Jake Matthews to left tackle and Cedric Ogbuehi to right tackle, I think, will be a good mix for our offensive line."

On Clarence McKinney...
Malena: "Coach McKinney is a perfectionist. He coaches perfection. He doesn't let little things go to waste. Especially for running backs — ball security, not losing your keys."

On his personal goals...
Malena: "To become the leader of this team, vocally and in the weight room. Try to lead by example. Getting more in shape and sharpening my skills on special teams, also."


Toney Hurd, Jr.

On his relationship with Floyd Raven...
Hurd: "My relationship with Floyd is very good. We've had a great off the field relationship and on the field is just a plus. Our relationship will be big this season because, with me at nickel, he'll be behind me every time on the field. In this scheme we can work together and become really good partners on the field."

On where Raven needs to adjust...
Hurd: "It's just taking a grasp of the entire defense. He's used to playing corner, so he's used to getting the call, but at safety he'll be making the call. Since we'll be playing on the same side, he'll have me helping him."

On where he needs to step up...
Hurd: "I'd have to say first and foremost that with Porter and Stewart leaving, that was the centerpiece of our defense. I need to become more vocal. Now that they've departed I've become more vocal in the weight room, seven on seven, to make the defense a better unit."

On Alex Sezer...
Hurd: "He's a quick-twitch guy, really fast, undersized, but he's pretty big and doesn't let his size get to his head. That's a big thing for me as well, not letting your size affect you."

On becoming this year's Sean Porter...
Hurd: "I wouldn't say I'll be this year's Sean Porter, but I'll be this year's Toney Hurd, Jr. I'm a pretty vocal guy. I'll definitely be a vocal leader this year because I pretty much know the entire defense at every level."

On what they must accomplish as a secondary...
Hurd: "The first thing I'd have to say we have to improve on is confidence. We all know individually that we're really talented, but as a group we need to become a talented group of guys. Coach Yates brings up all the time that none of us were All-SEC and nobody made it to the NFL combine from the secondary. That's a goal of ours, to become one of those guys.

"Howard Matthews really stuck out to me. He's become very fluid in the drills we've done. De'Vante Harris is still young but he has to become a leader for us. Those are the two guys that have really stuck out in my head."
Discussion from...

Full Presser: Sumlin, Aggies welcome start of spring practice

Sumlin seems to be more grounded this year (understandably). He's not as reluctant to speak of our team's stregnths and weaknesses.

I appreciate when he stares down reporters who ask dumb questions--the answers of which would only cause distraction. He's got our players back. I would have loved to play for someone with his demeanor and no nonsense approach. We got a good one.
KDS may be the best coach we've ever had. What he did last year - particularly concerning effort, unity, and execution - was truly amazing. He makes me proud1
Lots of young guys getting looks. I can't wait to see who steps up.
I'd hate to play poker against him.....
Will he pick another Heisman winner from no where??
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