Editor's note: This is the third part of a weeklong series looking at five players to watch in spring practice, which begins Feb. 28 for Texas A&M
It didn't take long for Ricky Seals-Jones to make his impact felt in Aggieland.
But before he could carve himself a significant role on the 2013 Aggies, his season was halted by a knee injury.
As the top-ranked recruit in Texas A&M's 2013 recruiting class, Seals-Jones arrived in College Station, Texas, with high expectations. In the Aggies' season-opening win against Rice, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound receiver showed a glimpse of why he was so highly regarded when he had a 71-yard touchdown in the victory.
However, Seals-Jones suffered a knee injury during that very play, which took him out of action the following week and allowed to play only sparingly in the Sept. 14 showdown against Alabama. Eventually, after some discussion with head coach Kevin Sumlin, Seals-Jones opted for surgery on the knee and sat out the remainder of the season.
So this spring, the Sealy (Texas) High School product will be one to watch for several reasons.
For starters, it will be worth seeing how he has rebounded from the knee injury and what type of condition he is in after sitting out the year. Going into the 2014 season, Seals-Jones figures to be a candidate for a starting job and a significant role in the Texas A&M passing game. He was already pushing players during training camp last preseason for playing time. With three of last year’s starters having moved on, that only increases Seals-Jones' chances at having a major role.
The other intriguing aspect to watch is where Seals-Jones will line up in the offense. Against Rice, he lined up as an inside receiver and spent much of training camp practicing at the Y receiver position. But will he also get some work as an outside receiver? That's a position he also practiced at during preseason camp last fall, and with outside receiver Mike Evans having declared for the NFL draft, Seals-Jones’ position is up in the air if the Aggies' offensive staff feels he's a better fit there.
Having spent much of his high school career at Sealy playing a multitude of positions, including quarterback, safety, receiver and punt returner, Seals-Jones acclimated well to the receiver position when he arrived in Aggieland and if he continues to improve, it stands to reason that he'll become an impact player this fall. And should the medical hardship waiver that Texas A&M applied for be approved (considering that Seals-Jones played in fewer than 30 percent of the A&M games and his injury was season-ending, it's highly likely that it does) then he'll regain his lost season and be classified as redshirt freshman this fall.
As the quarterback battle plays out into the fall between Kyle Allen, Kenny Hill and Matt Joeckel, whoever the winner is should have an inviting target to toss to in Seals-Jones. The rapport he builds with those three during spring ball will be worth watching.