It would seem realistic expectations for Texas A&M true freshman Kenyon Green are he’s indeed the real deal and will become the program’s next great offensive lineman.
“I’m just smiling, that’s all I’m going to say,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said Sunday. “I’m smiling.”
The 6-foot-4, 330-pounder has seen action at guard with the first unit in fall camp, despite not taking part in spring drills. Green is “very powerful, very athletic” and has the ability to learn and figure out the position quickly, Fisher said
“He’s a mature kid above his age in that he deals with success and failure really well for a young man,” Fisher said. “He’s pretty even-keeled for a guy his age and how he’s competing.”
Green is competing for playing time for a unit that includes five players with double-digit career starts. It’s not that A&M desperately needs Green to play, he’s just that talented.
Fisher didn’t want to put Green on pedestal at Sunday’s Media Day, but it was hard for him not to gush about Green as Fisher answered back-to-back questions.
“I’ve been extremely pleased where he’s at and he will definitely … should help us drastically this year, tremendously,” Fisher said.
Green is the highest-ranked recruit in A&M’s incoming class, which was ranked fourth in the nation by 247sports.com and sixth by rivals.com. He isn’t the only freshman who should make an immediate impact.
Tight end Baylor Cupp is vying for a starting position and defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal is moving well after missing spring drills with a cartilage tear in his knee.
A&M, despite losing three defensive linemen to the NFL, has plenty of depth. Junior tackle Justin Madubuike and junior end Michael Clemons lead the way. Sophomore Bobby Brown III, junior Jayden Peevy and sophomores Tyree Johnson and Max Wright will get playing time, but don’t overlook the 6-4, 290-pound Leal.
“I’ve seen a big human being who moves very effortlessly and we’re real excited about his future,” defensive coordinator Mike Elko said. “We don’t want to put time tables on him or force him into anything, but he is an extremely talented football player that‘s going play a major role for us really, really soon in this defense.”
Cupp (6-6, 245) is competing with sophomore Glenn Beal and fellow freshman Jalen Wydermyer. No one will be surprised if Cupp, who took part in spring drills, wins the starting job.
Throw in cornerback Elijah Blades, a junior-college transfer, and this class has a chance to make an immediate impact, despite A&M returning 10 starters and many others who saw significant playing time in a turnaround 9-4 season.
True freshmen for A&M made only two starts last season, one each by running back Jashaun Corbin and defensive back Leon O’Neal Jr., though place-kicker Seth Small (20 of 28 field goals, 38 of 38 PATs) came up big after Daniel LaCamera was injured.
A&M’s incoming class for the 2018 season was ranked 16th by rivals and 17th by 247sports.com. Fisher, who got a late start in recruiting the Class of 2018 as a new coach, got a late boost by signing tight end Jace Sternberger, a JC transfer, who had 12 starts and led the team in receptions.
Several players from that 2018 incoming class could see more playing time this season, such as Beal, Brown and Johnson, offensive linemen Luke Matthews and Marcus “Tank” Jenkins, and wide receivers Caleb Chapman and Jalen Preston.
It would appear this year’s incoming class will be better, showing sometimes recruiting rankings do matter, especially if the coaching staff is able to develop the players.
Green is bidding to join Luke Joeckel (NFL draft first round, 2013) and Jake Matthews (first round, 2014) as recent Aggie freshman linemen who started. Matthews started seven games in 2010 and Joeckel started 13 games, also in 2010.
Joeckel and Matthews are among six offensive linemen who signed with the Aggies out of high school and became NFL draft choices since the school joined the Southeastern Conference in 2012. The others — Cedric Ogbuehi (first round, 2015), Jarvis Harrison (fifth round, 2015), Germain Ifedi (first round, 2016) and Erik McCoy (second round, 2019) — all redshirted as freshmen.
Keaton Sutherland was another A&M offensive lineman who started as freshman, making seven starts in 2015. Sutherland, who made 33 career starts, is in camp with the Cincinnati Bengals, having signed as a free agent. He’s reunited with former A&M offensive line coach Jim Turner, who was hired by first-year head coach Zac Taylor. Taylor was an offensive graduate assistant at A&M from 2008-11 under Mike Sherman, who is his father-in-law.
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