It doesn’t take long for some players to establish themselves among the big names of college football.
Take Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk. The freshman from Arizona was quick to make his presence known, catching six passes for 106 yards and a touchdown in his first career game to open the 2015 season. He had the talent, and from Day 1, opponents were more than aware of it.
For other players, that isn’t the case. Some must bide their time, or stay buried on the depth chart for a short time before the gears start spinning.
Here are five under-the-radar underclassmen at Texas A&M who can move into the spotlight in 2016.
Deshawn Capers-Smith, sophomore, CB
The Aggies must replace two starters at corner, but have plenty of options. Junior Nick Harvey likely has one spot locked up, but expect a battle for the remaining position.
Capers-Smith’s biggest competition likely will come from UCLA transfer Priest Willis, who missed the 2015 season due to transfer rules.
Capers-Smith played both sides of the ball in high school, hauling in a multitude of awards, including Gatorade’s Player of the Year in Louisiana.
Beating out Willis for a starting spot will be a difficult task, but Capers-Smith will still see plenty of action even without earning the starting spot .
Kwame Etwi, sophomore, RB
There are plenty of names lining the depth chart at running back, but no clear-cut starter. From Keith Ford to Kendall Bussey, James White to Trayveon Williams, the starting gig remains up for grabs.
Etwi battled injuries in 2015 as a walk-on freshman, failing to recapture his debut performance that featured 12 carries for 116 yards against Ball State. He had just eight carries for 35 carries the rest of the year. A complete player who can hit his gaps as well as hold his own in pass blocking, he and Ford could be the faces of the rushing game in 2016.
Erik McCoy, redshirt freshman, C
McCoy is on a path that should make fans giddy. The 6-foot-4 center from Lufkin, Texas, used his redshirt in 2015. He is expected to to start in the middle of the line this season.
New offensive line coach Jim Turner will work with a unit that lost three starters and struggled with protection, leading to the removal of former coach Dave Christensen. McCoy excels at keeping his opponent in front of him and should adjust well to the speed of the game.
Kingsley Keke, sophomore, DT
Keke played in 12 games last season, but registered only seven stops at defensive tackle. Expect those numbers to drastically rise this season. At 319 pounds, Keke can burst through opposing offensive lines and has the quickness to close on ball carriers.
Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall have the outside locked down. Zaycoven Henderson will battle Keke for playing time, while Daylon Mack likely will snag the other spot in the interior.
Quartney Davis, freshman, WR
Davis won’t crack the starting lineup over Kirk, Ricky Seals-Jones or Josh Reynolds. When Speedy Noil returns from suspension, he will command a large percentage of snaps.
Even with all the talent, it will be hard to keep Davis off the field. With the elite talent in front of him, it should create plenty of mismatches in coverage as Davis goes against a team’s third- or fourth-best defender. He will make the most of the opportunities presented.