August 18, 2006

Special teams a focus in practice

Through the first 10 days of fall practice, a good deal of emphasis has been placed on the progress of the Aggie offense and defense as the Sept. 2 season opener approaches. Over the past couple of days, more attention has been paid to a third component: special teams.

When the 2005 season ended, one major question already loomed: Who would replace Todd Pegram as placekicker?

Speculation centered on Layne Neumann, who was already handling kickoffs and long field goals, and Richie Bean, who had been brought in as Pegram's heir apparent.

A suprising third candidate emerged just before fall practices started when it was announced that A&M Consolidated kicker Matt Szymanski, whose strong leg had attracted recruiters from programs across the nation, had graduated early and was already on campus. So far, it appears Szymanski is more than living up to the hype.

"(Szymanski) kicked the ball well today," coach Dennis Franchione said Thursday. "He's deep into the competition."

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