Story Poster
Mike Elko
Collin Klein
Jay Bateman
Texas A&M Football

Elko: Spring accomplishments will be 'critical' to A&M's fall successes

March 21, 2024
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The new staff is settled.

The roster has been retained, and additions have been made.

The Tommy Moffitt method has been implemented.

Now, Mike Elko & Co. get their first glimpse of Texas A&M’s 2024 team as spring practice begins on Friday afternoon.

“You do so many things when you take over a program, but really, we all want to coach football,” Elko said on Thursday. “Now, finally, we’re here. We’re at that moment where we get to get out on the grass and start to kind of build this program into what we want it to become.”

Of course, excitement among Aggies is obvious.

After finishing 7-5 in 2023, the need for building and growing is just as obvious.

As is the prevalence of competition across the board.

According to Elko, all positions are open. In his mind, it makes sense that way.

“Healthy competition is what creates growth in everyone in every organization everywhere you are,” Elko said. “It’s natural when you’re new and it’s a new staff for it to feel as though every job is open and is open for competition.

“Every job needs to be open every spring, and it has to feel that way, and it has to be real competition or else you’re not getting the growth in your program that you need to have. We want our guys to go out there and compete.”
- Texas A&M head coach Mike Elko

“Even as we build this program to where we want it to go — and we did this in year two at Duke — every job needs to be open every spring, and it has to feel that way, and it has to be real competition or else you’re not getting the growth in your program that you need to have. We want our guys to go out there and compete.”

Indeed, “all positions” means all positions, including quarterback.

Conner Weigman missed A&M’s final nine games after suffering a broken foot vs. Auburn, but Elko acknowledged he’ll enter the spring as the Aggies’ “No. 1” signal-caller.

While he’ll be ready for Friday’s first practice and fully healthy come Aug. 31, Elko said Weigman might be limited to practicing as a pocket passer.

Still, Jaylen Henderson performed well in his starts late in the year, and Marcel Reed provided a glimpse of his abilities when he was thrust into action in the Texas Bowl.

“It’s a really good room,” offensive coordinator Collin Klein said of his quarterbacks. “Been really impressed with their study habits and how hard they’re working to get up to speed quickly.

“It’s going to be a really exciting spring. It’s going to be really competitive. Again, across the board, offensively, we’re trying to develop everyone on our side of the ball.”

For the new coaching staff, depth and competition are celebrated, and the former creates plenty of the latter.

That’s true at running back. It’s especially true with the offensive line.

“We’re going to move a lot of guys around,” Klein said. “I’m really excited to see how each one of those guys grow into what is their best role as we get closer to kickoff.”

While Klein indicated that mixing-and-matching of the offensive front would be prevalent, Elko indicated the Maroon Goons would be tasked with much more than finding a singular cohesive unit.

Kelly Cothern, TexAgs
During the practices themselves, Elko said he would move from field to field and observe each position rather than taking a hands-on approach with an individual unit.

“There’s a mentality that you want to have as a program, and a lot of that starts with your offensive line,” he said. “The grit. The toughness. The mental edge. The way you can control a football game.

“When your offensive line can do those things, it creates a certain mentality amongst your program. That’s something that we have to develop. The conversations about it have already started. The understanding that that’s an area that needs to improve has already taken place.”

Elko took it a step further and promised a mixing-and-matching of starters, stating media members and fans won’t be able to figure out his depth chart this spring.

Defensively, Elko and coordinator Jay Bateman do have a lot to work with.

Shemar Turner, Shemar Stewart and Purdue transfer Nic Scourton along with freshman All-American linebacker Taurean York will likely guide the defense next fall.

But who else emerges? Who wins jobs across the board?

Steps toward answering those questions — and the others listed above — begin on Friday.

“What we get done, what we get accomplished in the spring is going to be critical for how we create our success for the season,” Elko said.

Clearly, the next 15 practices are of vital importance.

Each individual practice holds its own weight and vital importance.

“Right now, we’ve got to race against the clock,” Elko said. “Notre Dame has been a program that has been established for three years. We’re all aware that’s the opener. We’re playing catch-up.

“We can’t waste days. We can’t miss opportunities. We can’t not maximize everything that we’re doing to try to build this thing to what it needs to be.”

Let the competitions begin.


Notes

  • Elko said that the following players will be “extremely limited, if not out” during spring practice: Kam Dewberry, Shemar Turner, Akinola Ogunbiyi, Enai White and Donovan Green.
  • Additionally, center Bryce Foster will again miss spring practice to compete with Texas A&M’s track and field team. Foster won the men’s shot put competition at last week’s Carolina Spring Break Classic in Puerto Rico with a meet record of 17.68m/58-0.25.
  • A&M concludes spring practices with the Maroon & White Game at Kyle Field on April 20.
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Elko: Spring accomplishments will be 'critical' to A&M's fall successes

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