As Texas A&M prepares for its Sept. 4 season-opening game against Kent State, and in the process the centennial celebration of the Aggies fabled 12th man, coach Jimbo Fisher says two things are absolute: the sport of college football more than ever is relying on younger players; a team never can have too many centers.
In fact, in his Friday press conference before the Aggies' upcoming scrimmage Sunday, Fisher recalled a time as a Southeastern Conference assistant coach in which his squad went through a six-pack of candidates to snap the ball in preseason camp.
“I have something I've got to say: you learn from your past,” Fisher said. “One time in camp, I went through six centers. We went through six centers in camp and the guy who who snapped ended up he finally got his first rep on Wednesday before we played on Saturday. That was the first time he got a rep. And that team also played in the SEC Championship.
“It can happen. I've learned that you don't have enough centers. We repped a lot of guys at center and played them and forced them in there. But have done a really nice job with knowledge of what's going on. I think all those guys have a chance to be really good players.”
Fisher was an assistant coach on both Auburn and LSU squads that played for SEC Championships, and he didn't say with which program his offense found the sixth time a charm at the center position.
But Fisher did say the dynamics of college football have changed so much that he has approached camp with a mindset of getting ready as many young players as possible.
“Now you start to find out who likes football and who can play and push through those things,” Fisher said. “A lot of young guys will be counted upon at key positions. You know you're only one ankle turn, knee twist, shoulder bang from a lot of guys playing.
“I think that's the key to our time and day in sports. Your young guys have to be a big contributor in your teams and they have to be counted upon whether they're starters or not. To give valuable reps, special teams reps and if some guy gets nicked or banged up that they can go in a game and play. You've got to count on those younger guys. Young guys, you push them and challenge them but it's fun to watch them learn and watch them grow. Our young guys are doing a very good job in there.”
Fisher also said he believed the Aggies had nailed the future of its offensive line with its 2021 signing haul of six players, headlined by four-star All-America signee Bryce Foster.
“Those young linemen, we didn't miss on any of those guys,” Fisher said. “I like that group, I really do. Bryce is one of the guys that I think has great chance to contribute very early bc of his physical nature and physicality. Most guys as freshmen aren't built like that and aren't that strong coming in.”