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August 4, 2009
Storylines: Finding the right leaders
With August training camp opening in less than a week at Texas A&M, the Aggies have plenty of questions with just little over a month until opening night at Kyle Field. Over the next week, we at AggieYell.com will take a peek at the top storylines in Aggieland facing the team in camp.
Something happened during the 2008 season that should immediately help the Aggies in 2009. After A&M started to lose and lose again on its way to a 4-8 season, a transition happened in the locker room. The leadership fell from seniors to the younger players that will make up the 2009 roster.
On offense, sophomore quarterback Jerrod Johnson took the reins when senior Stephen McGee went down to a shoulder injury. Now the offense is Johnson's by himself with his leadership qualities never being a question.
But head coach Mike Sherman is hoping for someone else to join Johnson as one of the pillars of the offense. Former defensive tackle Lucas Patterson is making the move to left tackle on the offensive line, and the junior isn't only expected to fit in right away but also be a leader among the line.
Patterson has never had a problem leading by example, which is something safety Trent Hunter said he is going to miss on defense. But being vocal is something that Patterson admitted at Big 12 Media Days as a weakness of him.
The fact that Patterson was even at Big 12 Media Days was Sherman's idea to get him to be more comfortable talking in front of people, and throwing him in front of the media could be just what the doctor ordered.
If Patterson and Johnson can come together as the leaders of the offense, it would only strengthen the bond between a quarterback and a left tackle. The importance couldn't be understated enough.
The defense arguably saw the most interesting transition when it comes to leadership in 2008. With the Aggies losing and the defense allowing gobs of points and yards to opponents, a transition took place in the locker room and on the field. True freshmen such as Hunter, Terrence Frederick, Eddie Brown and Tony Jerod-Eddie started to see playing time and eventually made starts over highly touted upperclassmen. All four figure to be in the starting lineup on the first day of the season in 2009, and those highly touted upperclassmen that they replaced in 2008 either graduated or are no longer with the team.
From a leadership perspective, however, no one made a bigger impact than Hunter. Coming from Katy High School where Hunter was a part of state championship teams, the true freshman who was a late addition to the Aggies' 2008 recruiting class had an attitude that became infectious to those around him in Aggie jerseys.
By the end of the 2008 season young pup was already thought of as one of the top leaders on the team, and heading into the 2009 season it's the sophomore that is already being looked up to by incoming freshmen.
Joining him at safety is senior Jordan Pugh who shares the same carefree personality and tireless work ethic that makes players around Hunter want to emulate him. As a senior, Pugh represents one of the eldest players on the team with the most experience.
Add players like Von Miller on defense and Jeff Fuller and Lee Grimes on offense and it appears he Aggies could be on the same page for the first time in a long time. It'll be interesting to see if it stays that way if A&M falters during the 2009 season, but these young veterans have already been through the lows of the 2008 season and appear to have grown stronger.
With an incoming freshmen class that appears to share the same attitudes, August camp could be much like spring drills in which the Aggies appear to be having fun and working together as a team to improve. The road for A&M to get back to the top of the Big 12 conference could be a long one to hoe, but with the leadership that appears to be in place heading into August camp a light is slowly shining at the end of the tunnel.
And this August will go a long way in finding the right leaders to join the ones already in place for the Aggies as they go forward.
Storylines entering August training camp:
Finding a WR next to Fuller
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