Story Poster
Mike Elko
Mark Nabou Jr.
Nic Scourton
Texas A&M Football

A&M's rebuilt culture apparent as rejuvenated stars shine in spring game

April 20, 2024
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Press conference video courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics.


Mere minutes after the Maroon team defeated the White, 24-10, in the Texas A&M spring football game, new coach Mike Elko revealed a secret.

“I was the head coach of the Maroon team, so we’ll take that as a win,” Elko said. “I’m 1-0 on my official record here at Texas A&M.”

The joke drew a few chuckles.

But coaches of the 12 teams on A&M’s 2024 schedule wouldn’t laugh at what was displayed at Kyle Field on Saturday.

True, it’s wise never to overreact to the spring game. More than once over the years, I’ve seen spring stars fall into an autumn abyss.

Normally, anything that happens in spring games should be taken with a grain of salt. In fact, spring games can produce so much sodium to cause dire cases of hypernatremia.

But it seemed different. A diving catch in the end zone is a spectacular play regardless of season or who is in coverage.

“I was the head coach of the Maroon team, so we’ll take that as a win. I’m 1-0 on my official record here at Texas A&M.”
- A&M head coach Mike Elko

And there in the third quarter was Noah Thomas, leaping parallel to the ground to pull in a five-yard touchdown pass from Jaylen Henderson.

The 6-foot-6 junior caught seven passes for 82 yards and two scores. It was a performance that seemed to indicate Thomas is ready to take the step from complimentary receiver to primary target.

“He has a very large catch radius,” Elko said of Thomas. “He’s gotten healthy. He had some offseason stuff he was dealing with towards the end of the year last year. He’s gotten healthier and healthier as spring went on.

“I think it’s going to be really important for him to have a really strong summer. I think if he can develop some strength and get his body where it can possibly be, yeah, I think he has all the makings of being a guy we can use as a top target.”

The Aggies could also be encouraged the quarterback play. Henderson completed 8-of-13 passes for 100 yards. Sophomore Marcel Reed completed 10-of-14 for 84 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 34 yards. Both played for the Maroon team.

White team starter Conner Weigman only completed 5-of-14 passes for 47 yards. Yet, he was involved in one play which should boost hopes for next season.

There has been some question whether Weigman, last year’s starter, has completely recovered from a broken foot injury.

Weigman evaded heavy pressure, scampered to his right and purposely threw incomplete to avoid lost yardage.

The incompletion didn’t matter. The fact he flashed that mobility did. That’s the first item of encouragement.

The second was that he avoided the rush of Nic Scourton, the once 200-pound Bryan kid, who came back home from Purdue as a 280-pound beast.

Zoe Kelton, TexAgs
Scourton transferred to Texas A&M this offseason after a highly productive career at Purdue. 

Scourton consistently demonstrated why he led the Big Ten in sacks last season. He posted five tackles — half of which were sacks. He was credited with 3.5 tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and even broke up a pass.

The defensive line was the strength of A&M’s team last season. Scourton’s arrival figures to make the line even stronger.

“He’s a trouble-maker, for sure,” center Mark Nabou Jr. said.

Talent knows talent. And Scourton said he won’t be the only Aggie causing trouble for rival quarterbacks.

“There’s a lot of guys,” Scourton said. “(Bowling Green transfer) Cashius Howell… I think he’s been a sleeper all spring. That dude can really pass rush. A high-motor guy.

“Obviously, Shemar Stewart… He’s been great all spring as well. Guys like DJ Hicks and (Wisconsin transfer) Rodas Johnson. Honestly, I think the sky’s the limit with this group.”

Of course, there are also reasons for bringing the Aggies back down to earth.

Offensive line play remains a concern. Seven sacks were allowed.

But run-blocking was sound. Le’Veon Moss rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown for the Maroon. Rueben Owens rushed for 77 yards, which included a 61-yard touchdown dash.

Pass coverage was solid despite Thomas’ big game. Overall, the secondary allowed 242 passing yards.

“I think we have added a lot of valuable pieces to that group,” Elko said. “It was well-documented that that was something that needed to happen. I think we’ve added some really talented kids that can cover on the outside.”

“There’s still some pieces that weren’t there today that I think can add a lot of value, too.

“What spring was really about for us was building a foundation. If you look at where this program was walking off the field at the Texas Bowl to where this program is today…”
- A&M head coach Mike Elko

“The thing I’m probably most pleased about in the secondary is I’m really happy with how the safeties are playing. We have three, maybe four, legitimate safeties that can play football in this conference. For the way we want to play defense, that’s something that’s really, really important.”

Finally, the Aggies just seemed better organized than a year ago. There was just one pre-snap penalty. That’s a huge step forward.

Heck, even the punting was better. Tyler White averaged 47 yards on seven punts. Two covered more than 50 yards.

However, Elko appeared most pleased by the culture he has tried to cultivate since A&M finished last season with a loss to Oklahoma State in the Texas Bowl.

“What spring was really about for us was building a foundation,” he said. “If you look at where this program was walking off the field at the Texas Bowl to where this program is today…”

“I think our kids deserve a lot of credit for how they’ve righted a ship and started steering this program back in the right direction.”

Aggies have been warned to only be “cautiously” optimistic about next season.

Enough happened on Saturday — including the addition of center Kolinu’u Faaiu from Utah through the transfer portal — to remove the “cautiously” disclaimer.

That’s no joke.

Discussion from...

A&M's rebuilt culture apparent as rejuvenated stars shine in spring game

17,732 Views | 10 Replies | Last: 28 days ago by greg.w.h
TexAgs23
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jb 00
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LAAG
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MaroonStain
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AG
16 and Elk0

Edit: 16 games in new format?
aggieland09
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AG
This recap should highlight Marcel Reed success today. He stood apart from other qbs. Good decisions, good scrambling, and led his team up and down the field.
4
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AG
Outside of individual athletic ability, you can learn exactly zero from a spring game.
fieldtrailer
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AG
Scrambling and throwing incomplete? That shouldn't be a standout highlight. But that's where this team of walking wounded is I guess. The xfrs looked great. See if there's some wr and rb speed in portal. And more oline. Defense looked great. They will be needed this season.
The Agly Duckling
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Great article, Olin. Thank you. I appreciate the extra you threw in about how the scrimmage actually went.
lagoag
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greg.w.h
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AG
MaroonStain said:

16 and Elk0

Edit: 16 games in new format?
If undefeated through CCG you skip the pre-quarterfinals play ins at highest seeded team's campus or choice of venue. I think it's okay if we qualify for a first round game.
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