COLLEGE STATION --- The No. 6 Texas A&M football team opened preseason camp for its 2013 season with a brisk practice on the Coolidge Grass Practice Fields on Monday.
The Aggies, who open against Rice on Aug. 31, drilled in shorts, shirts and helmets for approximately two hours with the NCAA-mandated preseason roster of 105 players. Among the 105 players were 31 scholarship newcomers, including 27 true freshmen, three junior college transfers and one four-year college transfer.
“We signed 31 players and they are all eligible,” Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “They all made their SAT, ACT scores, all did well in their classes. They are all in summer school and ready to go.”
Armed with their highest preseason ranking since 1995 (No. 6 in the USA Today coaches poll), the Aggies return 48 lettermen from last season’s 11-2 Cotton Bowl champion team. The Aggies finished 2012 ranked No. 5 nationally, which was the school’s highest final top 25 ranking since 1956. Among the 48 letterwinners are 11 returning starters, six on the offensive side of the ball and five on the defense.
“We have a team of guys that are hungry and understand the challenge ahead of them,” Sumlin said. “They are excited to play. The best thing for this team is to get to practice, turn the music on and get going.”
Today’s first day of football marked the 49th preseason camp for legendary Texas A&M athletics figure Billy Pickard, who began his relationship with Aggie football as a student trainer under head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Pickard, who will turn 80 on Halloween this year, joined the athletic department on January 1, 1965 as head trainer and served many roles at Texas A&M until his retirement in 2009.