NCF Nation: Joseph Cheek

Opening spring camp: Texas A&M

March, 22, 2011
3/22/11
7:30
PM ET
Schedule: Texas A&M opens spring practice today and will close with its spring game on April 16. Selected practices are open to fans and media. Here's the schedule.

What’s new: Not very much, and that's a good thing for Texas A&M's immediate future. Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter is back for a second year after being heavily pursued by Tulsa in the offseason following his re-establishment of the Wrecking Crew in 2010. The Aggies bring back nine offensive starters, eight defensive starters and two special-teamers from a team that won nine games in 2010. That's the most in the Big 12.

On the mend: Running back Christine Michael is expected to return in the spring after breaking his tibia in the middle of his sophomore season last year. After his injury, Cyrus Gray emerged with seven consecutive games of at least 100 yards, but getting both Michael and Gray on the field is a big help for the Aggies offense. Cornerbacks Terrance Frederick and Coryell Judie will be held out of the spring with injuries, but should be healed up by summer.

On the move: Damontre Moore played plenty of the Joker position last season, especially when Von Miller was slowed by an ankle injury early in the season. He's likely to slide into the same spot, but the coaching staff is open to moving him to a more traditional defensive end spot if the rising sophomore's frame fills out past the 6-foot-4, 248 pounds he played at during his freshman year in 2010. Lucas Patterson is gone, so if necessary, there's a hole at defensive end for Moore to fill. This spring will be a critical period in deciding his future role on the defense. Wherever he plays, he's likely to be a big piece of the Wrecking Crew.

New faces: Quarterback Johnny Manziel is on campus, but early on, he might play a bit of receiver like the Aggies' starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, used to. Linebacker Donnie Baggs and offensive lineman Joseph Cheek have also enrolled early.

Breaking out: Linebacker Sean Porter was overshadowed by a pair of stars at linebacker in Michael Hodges and Miller last season, but he could become one of the leaders of the Wrecking Crew this spring and a star himself. The junior outside linebacker could be a household name soon.

Don’t forget about: Defensive lineman Tony Jerod-Eddie. He suffered a broken foot last season against Texas and missed the rest of that game, but he should be back for a big senior season this year.

All eyes on: Tannehill. He took over as the starter midway through last season and was a big reason behind the Aggies' six-game winning streak to close conference play. All of his top targets are back, but he needs to grab a hold of the offense this spring. It will get more difficult next season for Tannehill as teams collect more tape and learn his tendencies. He already knows the offense as well as anyone, but making sure running it is second nature will be integral to making sure his late-season success last year continues into 2011. He'll get a chance to shore up his timing and chemistry this spring.

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