Success on the field has followed on the trail for the Aggies, who look poised to sign a class that could help push them towards the top of SEC over the next few years.
Texas A&M has long been thought of as a sleeping giant. Following a 10-2 record in their inaugural season in the SEC and a Heisman Trophy winner, I think it's safe to say the giant is awake and showing on the recruiting trail.
Kevin Sumlin and his staff have used the recent tidal wave of positive momentum and turned it into recruiting victories off the field. As of today, the Aggies have a monster class of 34 commitments and a team ranking of seventh according to 247Sports.com. The good news for Aggies is that they're not done yet.
At first glance over a commitment list, it's easy to wonder how Texas A&M can sign all of these prospects. Specifically designed for Houston Nutt when he was at Ole Miss, the SEC has a rule that each school may only sign a maximum of 25 players in a recruiting cycle (February to May each year). However, there are a few caveats in the fine print. If a school signs under the limit, they can roll those spots back to the next class as long as they are used on "early enrollees". Early enrollees are players that graduate in December and can enrollee in school in January. By enrolling in Spring classes, they are able to sign in before the recruiting cycle opens in February.
Texas A&M for example, signed 19 players in their 2012 recruiting class. Six under the limit and four of those signed were early enrollees that were counted back to the 2011 class. That gives the Aggies a total of 10 scholarships in this class that they can assign to the previous class (2012).
Out of the Aggies' 34 commitments, eight (8) are early enrollees. That puts the 2013 counter at 26, or one (1) over the 25 max. That means come signing day, one of the current commitments cannot sign with the Aggies. It is no secret that a couple prospects are at risk to not qualify academically. If their grades don't improve as signing day nears, it's a safe bet that they don't sign a Letter Of Intent with A&M. With the way this staff is still beating the streets for elite prospects, it's clear their main focus is to continue upgrading the talent on this roster and worry about the numbers later.
With only a few spots available, what holes still exist in this class?
The quarterback position has been locked up since April. Kevin Sumlin has a new version of Johnny Manziel in Southlake Carroll's Kenny Hill, who is dangerous through the air and on the ground. Then there is Aggie legacy and four-star Kohl Stewart. Kohl is a pro-style passer who is also an elite pitching prospect. He is a risk to forego college and enter the MLB draft.
The Aggies are one-and-done at running back in 2013 with Pearland Dawson's James White.
Wide-receiver is an embarrassment of riches for the Aggies in this class headlined by the highest rated player in Texas, Ricky Seals-Jones. The 6'5" athlete, and former Longhorn commit, is joined on the outside by another four-star in 6'7" Derrick Griffin.
The Aggie staff didn't stop there, they went to The Peach State and got a commitment from 6'4" JaQuay Williams. Williams was one of the top receivers in the country in 2012 but went to a prep school after failing to qualify. Sticking a little closer to home, they have 6'3" Kyrion Parker, a one-time LSU commit from Manvel and 6'3" Quincy Adeboyejo from Cedar Hill.
Notice a common theme between outside receivers? The Aggies also have two slot receivers with Adeboyejo's teammate LaQuivionte Gonzales and Jeremy Tabuyo from Hawaii. Athlete Cameron Echols-Luper from Auburn, Alabama is also likely to play receiver and believe it or not, they're still not finished. The Aggies remain a finalist for another four-star receiver in Tony Stevens from Florida.
One tight-end was taken in this class with 6'6" 270-pound Cameron Clear. Clear was one of the top TE prospects in the country coming out of high school and signed with the Tennessee Volunteers. He left the team after his freshman year and relocated at Arizona Western College. The juco transfer is an early enrollee and has two years of eligibility remaining.
The Aggies took four offensive lineman including a juco tackle in Jeremiah Stuckey who has three years of eligibility left. Dallas Jesuit's J.J. Gustafson will play tackle and Birdville's Joas Aguilar is a guard at the next level. Ishmael Wilson from Bishiop Dunne is the most highly regarded of the four and is versatile enough to play guard or tackle.
High school teammates Jay Arnold and Jordan Points from Rockwall Heath are the only two defensive ends in the class. Both will play on the strong-side but it's a possibility Points eventually slides inside to defensive tackle. Junior college weak-side end Za'Darius Smith is the only remaining target at the position. With the possible departure of Damontre Moore to the NFL, he is arguably the most important.
Defensive tackle is another absolutely loaded position for the Aggies with four (4) four-star players committed. Oklahoma legacy Justin Manning chose the Ags over the Sooners last Friday and he joins Carthage's Isaiah Golden, Westfield's Hardreck Walker, and Dallas Skyline's Kerrick Huggins.
Linebacker is also loaded with talent. Early enrollee Reggie Chevis from Sharpstown is a middle linebacker all the way. Kennedale's Brett Wade and Edward Williams from New Orleans, Louisiana can play both Mike or Will 'backer. Another Louisiana product in Darian Claiborne and juco transfer Kenny Flowers can both play Will or Sam linebacker. While athlete Shaan Washington from Alexandria, Louisiana can play Sam if he's not a safety. Kevin Sumlin and Co. are not done here either. Another Hawaii native in Isaac Savaiinaea is the top linebacker still on their board and they are also pursuing Oklahoma commit Jordan Mastrogiovanni, Ohio State lean, Mike Mitchell and Tommy Sanders from Butler Community College. In my opinion, the Ags would like to add one, possibly two, more of these guys.
The final Louisiana commitment, Noel Ellis, headlines the cornerback class. He joins Manvel's Tavares Gardner and athlete Alex Sezer will likely end up here. The Aggies continue to recruit another Florida native, MacKensie Alexander, who is a top-3 corner in the country.
The safety class is led by former Tennessee commit and four-star, Kameron Miles. Rosenberg Terry's Victor Davis and Alief Taylor's Jonathan Wiggins are also committed at the position.
This huge class is big, not only from a numbers standpoint, but a talent perspective as well. With this class, Kevin Sumlin is building the necessary depth to not only compete in the SEC, but to play for crystal footballs. The 2013 recruiting class may go down as one of the better ones in Texas A&M history. Yeah, I'd definitely say the giant is finally awake.