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March 21, 2012

Harrison, Ogbuehi take over at guard

Now that 2012's signing day has come and gone, Texas A&M knows for sure who it will be going into SEC play with. Aggieyell.com will look at the 2012 team, position by position, as spring practice approaches. The latest in the series: offensive guard.

Losses from last year: Evan Eike, Joseph Villavisencio

Players participating in spring practice: 6

Overall talent level: High among the starters, unknown with reserves

Overalle experience level: Very low.

Overview: At the start of last season, it looked like the combination of Shep Klinke and Brian Thomas has the guard positions nailed down for the next two years. The Aggies will enter spring ball with neither as a starter and Thomas off the team. Jarvis Harrison and Cedric Ogbuehi will enter camp as the presumptive starters, with a mix of Klinke, Jeffrey Hyde and Garrett Gramling and Nathan Gutekunst behind them (if they're not at tackle). Kimo Tipoti and Germain Ifedi will join the mix this summer. Ogbuehi and Harrison have shown they can be very effective, but the Aggies will need someone to step up to take a spot on the second team.

The starters:

Redshirt sophomore Cedric Ogbuehi

• Started 5 games in 2011
• Greatest assets: Very physical with additional room to grow
• The bottom line: Mike Sherman said early last summer that he wanted to get Ogbuehi on the field more because he was too good to sit on the bench. It ended up that he became a guard, a position he hadn't played but showed good promise in limited time last year. He should remain in the starting lineup in 2012.

Redshirt sophomore Jarvis Harrison

• Started 5 games in 2011
• Greatest assets: huge and extremely strong, with good quickness for his size
• The bottom line: Sherman took plenty of grief for calling Harrison, a two-star out of Navasota, a first-round talent but he's starting to show what he's capable of. At 6'4" and 320 lbs., Harrison doesn't block people, he mauls them. Now that he's had time to mature, Harrison is becoming a very good interior lineman.

The supporting cast:

Junior Shep Klinke:
• Started the first three games of 2011 at left guard
• Greatest assets: Massive frame with the ability to maul opponents
• The bottom line: Klinke started at the bottom of the totem pole last spring after seeing his freshman year essentially tossed away in limited action, as the former staff tried to redshirt him. He worked his way into the starting lineup, but mental errors earned the wrath of Jim Turner and a seat on the bench. At 6'7" and 305 lbs., Klinke has the physique and experience (at Katy High School) for a tackle; even though he's the only remaining playing with starting experience at guard, he may end up back there.

Redshirt sophomore Garret Gramling:

• Saw limited playing time in 2011
• Greatest assets: Big (6'6", 316 lbs) and physical
• The bottom line: Gramling didn't find a home with Sherman and Turner, bouncing back and forth between tackle and guard and not seeing the field much as a result. A&M will need him to step up somewhere in the spring.

Redshirt freshman Nathan Gutekunst:
• Redshirted in 2011
• Greatest assets: Powerful drive blocker
• The bottom line: Gutekunst is very strong but raw, and played tackle at Atascocita. He was moved inside last fall and remained on the scout team. At 6'6" and 320 lbs., he has the look of a potentially powerful guard, but could be moved back to tackle.

Freshman Germain Ifedi
• Played guard at Houston Westside in 2011
• Greatest assets: Very strong and quick for his size (6'5", 304 lbs.)
• The bottom line: Ifedi was an all-district selection and a 3-star recruit this past year. Though he could use a year in the strength and conditioning program, he could work his way into the rotation with a strong fall performance.

Freshman Kimo Tipoti
• Three-star recruit in 2012
• Greatest assets: Massive (6'3", 330 lbs.); possibly the strongest lineman recruit in Texas in 2012
• The bottom line: Tipoti was at the top of the former coaching staff's board at guard last year and he may get a chance to prove why quickly. He should have no trouble moving any opponent around, but may need fine tuning in the passing game--a key element in Kevin Sumlin's offense.


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