Aggie football fans will have one more reason get to campus early this weekend ahead of Texas A&M's match-up against Mississippi State -- the Corps of Cadets are set to march an expanded route extending from the Quad to West Campus ahead of kickoff.
The new march-in route, which will see the Corps take a loop around Reed Arena before heading back toward Kyle Field, was one of many new changes to the game day routine suggested by the Game Day Enhancement Task Force formed earlier this year.
Mike Caruso, associate athletics director for game operations, said he thinks the addition will add to the "total package" that is Aggie game day in College Station.
"Game day here is more than just the game," he said. "... It just adds to the atmosphere that everybody experiences firsthand."
The Corps will step off at 4:20 p.m. and begin its march down Joe Routt Boulevard, crossing Pickard's Pass to West Campus between 4:30-4:48 p.m. to circle Reed Arena. They are expected to pass back through the underpass between 5-5:15 p.m. on their way to deliver the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band to Kyle Field and returning to the Quad.
Assistant Director of Tailgating Neil Peltier said he views the new route as an "opportunity for the Corps of Cadets to really showcase themselves to a group of people they're not normally exposed to."
Peltier said while the intent of the new route is primarily to provide the Corps with greater visibility before kickoff, he believes the fans on West Campus will benefit from getting to "see something they're not traditionally able to see in that area."
Caruso said while previously thousands had the chance to witness the Corps marching in, this new route will likely allow tens of thousands more to participate as well.
"I applaud them for their courage to try to do something different and try to show off in front of the home fans," Caruso said.
Both Caruso and Peltier noted it will be important for those planning to come to campus for game day to arrive earlier than usual to ensure they are not stopped by traffic or any streets that may be closed to allow the Corps to continue on their path. Peltier said they are recommending fans arrive before 4 p.m.
Additionally, the men also praised the accommodations of Texas A&M Transportation Services and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, which made the expanded route possible and safe.
"Hats really go off to the folks from Transportation Services and TTI," Peltier said. "... They really did the bulk of [the route planning] and made it possible."
The Aggies are set to kick off against the Bulldogs at 6:15 p.m.
For more information on the route, visit transport.tamu.edu.