Practices No. 12-13: The Texas A&M football team worked out in full pads at the Coolidge practice fields Wednesday morning for 2 hours, 25 minutes, then practiced in the McFerrin Center in helmets and shoulder pads for 1 hour, 55 minutes in the afternoon.
"I thought it went pretty well. The heat was pretty hot this morning. We had to battle through some things there," A&M head coach Mike Sherman said. "But I thought they did well and came back this afternoon and practiced well."
A&M had a sluggish practice Tuesday, but Sherman said the team rebounded well.
Guyton, Williams not on team: Redshirt freshman running back Kalvin Guyton and junior defensive lineman K.J. Williams aren't with the team after violating team rules, said Sherman who added that "possibly" they could be gone for good.
Guyton had six carries for 33 yards on the second drive of Sunday's scrimmage along with a 9-yard catch. Williams, recruited as a tight end, saw action in seven games as a true freshman without a catch but blocked a punt. He played in seven games last year, mostly on special teams, without a tackle.
Texting Stephens: Junior running back Bradley Stephens has been having a solid fall camp and looked good enough in Sunday's scrimmage that Sherman texted him that night.
"He took a lot of reps and make some great cuts," Sherman said.
Stephens had 27 carries last year for 141 yards. Co-starters Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray combined for 325 carries, 1,672 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Freshman running backs Ben Malena and Mister Jones also are getting carries.
"I wish we were deeper," Sherman said. "I don't think we have great depth there. We've got some quality guys, but you'd like to have about eight players there."
Walk-on seeing lots of action: Freshman walk-on safety Louie Swope, brother of sophomore wide receiver Ryan Swope, has played quite a bit this week filling in for defensive backs out with injuries.
"I watched him at high school when he was at [Austin] Westlake," Sherman said. "He was an aggressive downhill safety. He doesn't know where he's going half the time, but he's going at a 100 mph doing it. It's kind of neat to see that. Eventually, he'll get caught up in the scheme and he'll really help us."
Et cetera: Senior defensive lineman Lucas Patterson (6-4, 295) saw time at defensive end. He's been at nose guard in the 3-4 alignment. Sherman said they wanted to keep everyone in the same position for 10 practices before experimenting with a few players. "Whether is stays that way or not remains to be seen," he said.
The return games: A&M works on special teams every day, but Sherman said it's hard to judge returners until they go against another team live.
"We have some guys who can do it," he said, adding that Gray and Swope are proven returners. Gray averaged 23.8 yards on 27 kickoff returns last season and Swope averaged 24.8 yards on eight.
A&M returns its top punt returner in sophomore Dustin Harris (7.9 average on 16), but he's missed time with an injury. Freshmen LeKendrick Williams (Sharpstown) and Nate Askew (San Antonio Madison) returned punts in high school and "were good at it," Sherman said.
Sherman also cited sophomore Kenric McNeal and added that junior Terrence Frederick is probably the best at catching punts.
"We're still working with them, and we haven't come to a final conclusion on that just yet," he said.
Welcome back: Ryan Swope, who injured his quad last Wednesday, made a diving one-handed catch during goal-line drills in the afternoon, earning the day's most noise from onlookers and teammates. He beat cornerback Harris, who also was returning after missing a few practices.
"We are getting more guys back," said Sherman, who added that none of the injuries have been serious. However, a lingering mid-foot sprain has prevented sophomore free safety Steven Campbell from practicing this fall.
"I'm anxious to get him back," Sherman said. "Hopefully, we'll get him back and have our full group out here."
Plenty of experience: Twelve retired high school coaches watched one or both of the practices Wednesday. Sherman and associate athletics director for football Tim Cassidy annually picks a day or two to invite former coaches to sit in on meetings and eat with the team as a way of thanking them for their service to the game.
This year's group included a trio of the state's best-known coaches in Johnny Tusa (Waco High), Elwood Kettler (Texas City) and Ron Mills (Bay City, Brenham). Kettler, who played quarterback at Brenham, was one of Texas A&M's Junction Boys.
Kettler and Mills, who is retired in Brenham, marveled at the McFerrin Center. Mills laughed that he had to wear knee-long socks when he went to Bay City to keep the mosquitos from biting him during fall practices and games.
The group also included former A&M Consolidated head football coach Bob McElroy, who coached at several other schools.
John David Crow, A&M's only Heisman Trophy winner, watched the morning practice while former Aggie tight end Greg Schorp was at the afternoon workout.
A little taunting: Backup junior quarterback Ryan Tannehill used his speed to pick up about 10 yards, cutting out of bounds to avoid a fast-closing defender during morning 11-on-11 action.
"Boy, you better run," said junior strong safety Trent Hunter, who was standing on the sideline watching as Tannehill started to easy up.
Tannehill zipped the football hard underhanded like a fastpitch softball pitcher to Hunter, who made the catch, still smiling.
Mighty Mangan: Sophomore inside linebacker Kyle Mangan went airborne during goal-line plays to deflect with one hand a pass intended for redshirt freshman tight end Hutson Priouleau who seemed wide open running in the back of the end zone.
"That's big time Kyle," Sherman said. "That's a heck of a play."
Second time not any better: Junior defensive tackle Eddie Brown busted through to block a 46-yard field goal try by junior Randy Bullock during special teams work.
It was supposed to be the last kick of the drill, but Sherman made them do it again, with Bullock's attempt just wide right.
"Randy, you gotta make that," said one of the coaches.
Bullock had made the first two from that distance.
Next up: Practice No. 14 will be at 8:25 a.m. Thursday at the Coolidge fields. Practices for the rest of the week will be at 8:25 a.m Friday outside and at 4 p.m. Friday in the McFerrin Center (closed) and at 8:55 a.m. Saturday at Kyle Field.
Outside practices are open to Aggies. Students, faculty and staff must show their A&M ID. Students and former students also will be admitted with an Aggie ring.
-- Robert Cessna