August 28, 2007

Seniors dominate a dominant Aggie O-Line

Texas A&M has a luxury when talking about the offensive line. The Aggies return four starters, five if you count Travis Schneider after he started for Yemi Babalola at tackle while Babalola's nursed an ankle injury, and six if you count senior guard Chris Yoder who played just as much, if not more than last year's starter Grant Dickey.

It's a luxury that most college football teams would love to have. Experience is the key to this unit, but they also have something else that is very uncommon to most offensive lines in college football. This unit is made of four from the same recruiting class that have been mainstays on the line for the past three seasons.

"Just because you come into college together doesn't mean that you're going to leave college together because guys flunk out, guys transfer, guys get in trouble somehow so this has never happened before," said senior guard Kirk Elder. "It's really special that we're together because I consider them brothers to be quite honest."

Elder, senior center Cody Wallace, senior tackle Corey Clark and Yoder are all part of the recruiting class of 2003, and 2007 will be the last season the four will suit up together in the maroon and white. All four have excellent chances of continuing their football careers in the NFL.

Of the four only Wallace, Elder and Clark are guaranteed to start. Yoder is in a position battle with sophomore Michael Shumard. Yoder will most likely get the nod, but Shumard will see plenty of playing time throughout the season.

"I think Mike Shumard deserves to play right now," said A&M head coach Dennis Franchione. "He's had a good August and I'd say that we'll play both those guys. Chris will be able to play center or either guard, so he's very valuable in that regard too."

Babalola was perceived to have the starting job at tackle wrapped up after coming back from an ankle injury that hampered him throughout last season, but Schneider has put up a fight. The two seem to be neck and neck heading into Saturday's season opener. Much like Yoder, Babalola will probably get the start but Schneider will see plenty of playing time as well in the rotation.

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