ROUND ROCK, Texas - On Saturday, four Texas A&M commits were featured in the Max Emfinger's All-American game. While playing in brutally cold conditions, the four athletes competed well against a mix of other Division I recruits. Lead by three future Aggies, the West defeated the East, which featured Franklin, Louis. native and A&M defensive end commit Gavin Stansbury, 27-14.
The game started with a bang when Houston Sharptown's LeKendrick Williams returned the opening kickoff 35 yards to the opposing 48-yard line for the West squad.
"I am supposed to go in right away and return kickoffs for A&M," the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Williams said. "That is kind of my specialty. The coaches also told me I will play some offense as an all-purpose player on sweeps and stuff like that. I am also going to play some dime back on defense, because of my size."
In the first quarter, Rowlett, Texas defensive end Damontre Moore beat the tackle across from him, hitting the running back in the backfield, and forcing a fumble. The ball was then scooped up by Dallas Skyline linebacker Domonique Patterson, who returned it to the 50-yard line. Moore later got a sack, while Williams had one the best plays of the day, making a great break on a hitch for an interception that he took back for a touchdown.
"I owe that interception to these two guys (Patterson and Moore) for getting pressure on the quarterback," said Williams. "That is something I am looking forward to for the next four years."
Stansbury was the only Aggie commit playing for the East squad. He was in the backfield for most of the game, being disruptive, but failed to capitalize on a couple sack opportunities. He did manage to wrap up the quarterback for his only sack in the third quarter.
"I don't think I really played up to my physical ability today," Stansbury said, "but I think I did okay. On the sack, I pressured the tackle from the outside and was able to beat him around the edge. I saw the quarterback and was able to finish the play."
Because he was on the opposite team as his fellow commits, Stansbury did not have as much time to be around his future teammates. However, he did get to hang out with them outside of practice.
"It was fun going up against those guys," Stansbury said. "We talked trash this week and stuff."
"We are going to be together for the next four or five years, so it is good to see and talk to these guys as much as possible," Williams added. "I have talked to a lot of the other commits, like Toney Hurd and the lineman from Elkins (Jake Matthews). I haven't talked to the kid from Katy (Shep Klinke), so I really need to call him."
Even though the focus of the four prospects was on the game, they couldn't help but be aware of the fact that A&M defensive coordinator Joe Kines retired the week prior to the game and that defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt had already taken another job at Kansas. With all four athletes expected to play defense at A&M and more changes potentially on the way, the defensive coaching changes has had some effect on all of them.
"It is A&M and we trust them to bring in someone that is going to be good," Williams said.
"The coaches have told all of us that they are going to bring in someone that is going to be good," Moore echoed. "I think everything will be cool."
Stansbury was less comfortable with the changes and had doubts when he heard of Kines' retirement, but the staff at A&M quickly put him at ease.
"At first I was worried about whether I would fit in with the new coaches and whether they would want me," Stansbury said. "I talked to coach Turner and coach Sherman and they both told me that they still wanted me and I would have a role with the new coach. I felt a lot better about it after talking to them."
All four players say they are expecting to go in and play right away. Moore said Von Miller's decision on whether or not to declare for the draft early will have a big impact on him.
"The coaches told me, no matter what, I can go in and play right away because there isn't much depth," Moore said. "If Von leaves, it will be even thinner."
"[Miller] has said he wants to come back because he wants win a Big XII Championship, but he is going to do what is best for him," Williams said. "He is a great player, so we all hope he comes back."