COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin's philosophy on personnel decisions is simple.
"The best players play," he said.
While that sounds logical enough (most coaches will echo that sentiment), it's part of a larger point Sumlin is trying to prove, that just because a player has been in the program longer than someone else, it doesn't automatically mean anyone has the upper hand. That can be seen throughout the Aggies' depth chart as they enter the 2012 season.
In other positions, young players are on the field not necessarily just because they are outplaying their older counterparts, but out of necessity.
"There's young guys there because we don't have anybody else,” Sumlin said. “Fortunately we recruited to that and we've thrown some guys into the fire."
One area where players are feeling that fire’s warmth is at cornerback. While the options are plentiful, the experience is not.
The two starting cornerbacks, true freshman De'Vante Harris and sophomore Deshazor Everett, have zero starts between them. Of the six core guys that will see time at corner -- Dustin Harris, Tremaine Jacobs, Floyd Raven and nickel corner Toney Hurd being the others -- only two (Harris and Hurd) have started a game before.
While they're light on experience, the coaches say they have plenty of talent.
"(De'Vante Harris) has had a really good camp," defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said. "You can tell he's from a football family, his dad (Rod Harris) being a football player here. Football makes sense to him. He's going to be a really good football player for us.
"Deshazor has really come along. There's a kid that can tackle and run. I've been very pleased with Deshazor as well."
Everett has received work at both cornerback and safety during fall camp. If injuries occur or the need arises, he'll be the first reserve option at safety behind veteran starters Steven Campbell and Steven Terrell.
Senior linebacker Sean Porter said that he has been impressed by the way the cornerbacks have battled throughout camp.
"That's a heavy battle," Porter said. "All of those guys out there are good. I don't really see a lot of difference in them. ... I think it's good. Competition is always healthy on a team like this. It just makes everybody better."
Terrell, a senior safety, said the secondary as a group made some mistakes early in fall camp but has cut them down since.
"I feel like we've made really big strides," Terrell said. "A lot of the mistakes we made at the beginning of camp, those are gone, especially with the young corners. ... They're doing a great job competing. That's what I really like the most: the way they've been competing and fighting to get reps with those ones and things like that. I think they've come a long way also. It's going to be good for us. I'm excited."
Defensive backs coach Marcel Yates said the group still has room to improve.
"Right now we're athletic," Yates said. "We still need to get better. They're just starting to get to the point where we're practicing hard. They still need to talk to each other. We need to get each other on the same page. The ones right now are getting pretty good. What I need, is I need the twos to push the ones. Once our twos start playing like ones, we'll be pretty good."
Despite the lack of starting experience in the group, Snyder suggested that the Aggies do have depth at the position and that all those core guys will see time on the field this fall.
"The only place that we really have some depth is at corner, because we have Floyd and some of those guys," Snyder said. "It's kind of hard to put them all on this (two-deep) sheet because we are a little bit deep."