Hop's Easter Musings and Tidbits

It's time for another installment of Hop's Musings and Tidbits. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop dives into the latest in recruiting from both the gridiron and the hardwood. Will the Aggies land 5-star guard Keith Frazier and what is the staff's strategy to fill the last scholarship of the 2013 class? Who will finish out football's 2014 class?

1. TE/OL Koda Martin indeed attended practice last week and I got a good look. He's got a small lower base and his calves and ankles looked more like a receiver than an offensive lineman. But I have to remind myself that he's just a high school junior and likely won't see a collegiate field on Saturdays in the fall until 2015 or 2016. So he has almost three years to add the necessary bulk. If I had to guess, he weighed between 240-250 lbs. He stood next to Luke Joeckel who was talking him through the OL drills they were watching. He was about the same height, possibly a half-inch shorter. I've seen him listed at 6-foot-7 in some databases, but he's 6-foot-6 at most. Either way, height and arm length is fine. Weight and body mass will be the issue here.

Anyway, Koda told me that he's very comfortable with the environment at A&M and likes the program and the college town feel. He visited Texas immediately after the observing the Aggies, and while he's saying all the right things about the Longhorns, I think the Austin culture is not his cup of tea. He's very spiritual and dedicated to his faith, which is why going into this process I was initially more concerned with Baylor than Texas. He is also planning to visit LSU and possibly Alabama at some point, but I think the intangibles are favoring the Aggies at this point. I feel that A&M is definitely the team to beat, and a commit could come in about a month.

What Martin brings to the table is footwork and quickness. Nobody in the A&M offensive tackle pipeline can match his footwork and length. Yeah, there's some concern over weight but A&M must get more length and more athleticism at the tackle position. Once Matthews and Ogbuehi leave, A&M doesn't have this caliber of prospect in the pipeline. All signs point to the fact that he'll be in the A&M pipeline next February.

2. OK, people continually ask me who A&M will finish with in the 2014 class. For entertainment purposes only, here's my best guess as to who rounds out this class, although it's a certainty that this projection will change.

QB – Justice Hansen

RB - Kevin Shorter

WR - Armanti Foreman, Speedy Noil

TE – Garrett Gray

OL - Koda Martin, Braylon Hyder, Braden Smith

DE - Myles Garrett, Qualen Cunningham

DT - Gerald Willis (grows into DT)

LB - Zac Whitley

DB - Jermaine Roberts, Jamal Adams

3. Now that I projected how I think the class will finish, I'm going to list my dream recruiting class. Here is Hop's fantasy list:

QB – Brandon Harris

RB - Joe Mixon

WR - Davion Hall, Speedy Noil

TE – Bryce Dixon

OL - Koda Martin, Garrett Brumfield, Braden Smith

DE - Myles Garrett, Qualen Cunningham/Deondre Clark

DT - Gerald Willis (grows into DT)

LB - Zac Whitley, Otaro Alaka

DB - Tony Brown, Jamal Adams

4. Let's talk about the curious case of Davion Hall, who excels at both receiver and safety. But as with most high school juniors, he wants to play receiver at the next level and there are many observers (including yours truly) that think he's the best pass catcher in the state and a Top 5 overall prospect.

With a girlfriend at Baylor and the promise of early playing time in Art Briles' offense, Hall surprised everyone when he committed to the Bears in early February. But apparently, the girlfriend is no longer a factor and with national programs from across the country coming after him, he's considered a soft commit and open to new schools. I spoke to him last night and he said he's being recruited the hardest by LSU and Arkansas, but his only scheduled visit this spring is to Texas A&M for the April 13 Maroon and White Game.

I asked him what he wanted to accomplish on his visit, and he indicated he wanted to talk with Coach Sumlin and clarify exactly the interest level of the Aggies and also what position they see him playing if he were to attend A&M. This is on the heels of a previous conversation last month with the A&M staff that they had initial interest in his abilities as a safety. That took him back a little, and it's something he wants to clear up one way or another, especially since he hasn't talked directly with the A&M coaches since that first conversation.

The question isn't focused on Hall's interest level (which is clearly there) with the Aggies. It's what the A&M staff thinks of Hall and where he falls on their priority list. So far, they haven't shown him the type of attention a staff shows for a top priority prospect….and that is somewhat surprising given his abilities and the national offers from the likes of LSU, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Stanford, Oregon, etc. We'll see what happens at the spring game. If the staff rolls out the red carpet, A&M should quickly move into his top 2-3. If not, I don't think Hall will wait around to get their attention with so many quality offers on the table.

5. Thankfully, this will be the last Keith Frazier recruiting update as he's scheduled to make his official announcement Thursday afternoon at 3:00 PM. ***Update - He has postponed his decision for another week**

By most accounts, he's expected to pick Texas Tech with the rumors swirling that Texas Tech has retained Chris Walker as head coach and will hire Frazier's former coach as an assistant on the staff. It was reported by several sources that this was a done deal. Well, the mentor texted me yesterday to let me know about the official announcement location. I asked if it was true that Keith had eliminated Texas A&M and was officially down to SMU and Texas Tech. He vehemently denied it and said that the Aggies were still very much in the discussion and that Keith, his mom, and the "team" met with Coach Kennedy on Tuesday. He also said the "team" was going to meet last night and come to a final decision…and again reiterated that as of yesterday morning a decision had NOT been made.

Well, this ain't my first rodeo and I know he's trying to drum up media attention and suspense heading into today's announcement, but I did check with my A&M staff sources to see if there's any ounce of truth to the mentor's claims that A&M was still in the mix. From what I was told, Frazier's mother has always been in the A&M camp. The staff sold her on A&M early in the process, and the staff also had a very close working relationship with the first mentor. That's why the Aggies were pretty confident last summer that they were going to land Frazier. As you know from my earlier reports, his recruitment took a huge turn in the fall when he started listening to another mentor, one who had close to ties to the SMU staff. Then, Texas Tech got involved in the spring because the new mentor knows the Texas Tech interim coach Chris Walker and the thought that the interim title will be removed. That has spurred the rumors about Frazier's coach getting a job on the Tech staff…and why most people now think he'll go to Tech as long as Walker is made the head coach. That hasn't happened yet as expected and is one reason why Frazier's team may have delayed their decision. Like I said last week, this is messy to say the least.

Anyway, my sources indicate that the meeting with the mom, Keith, and Billy Kennedy on Tuesday was supposedly a 12th hour appeal by mom to reconsider her wishes that Texas A&M is the best situation for him. The staff isn't very confident that it worked and in fact they've been working on the assumption for a few weeks now that they will not land him. Still, I've seen it all in this business and if the kid truly sat down with his mom and mentor last night to come to a final decision, then who knows? I think even the most optimistic source at A&M probably thinks there's a 5% of mom winning out at the last moment. Nobody has their hopes up, but they will have a curious eye on today's proceedings just in case luck finally falls their way and they hit the lottery.

In the 95% chance that life moves on without Keith Frazier, where do the Aggies go from here? In talking to my sources, the staff will wait and see how things shake out across the country before deciding which direction to go. It certainly sounds like some of the options on the table a few weeks ago (Kendal Harris, Trey Dickerson, Jamal Jones) just aren't to the staff's liking at the moment. They liked the Jaren Sina kid from New Jersey, but after inquiring the door wasn't open to new suitors. They are compelled at the moment to wait it out and first see if there are any high quality fifth year players that have graduated and can transfer immediately. Then they have their eye on a couple of very talented prospects where schools have backed off due to grades, but after the semester may still have a chance to qualify late. They also have their eye on a couple of players that may be able to reclassify from the 2014 class to the 2013 class. By waiting and allowing the signing period in April to come and go, the top schools will be filled up so any good players that suddenly become available due to grades, reclassification, or immediate transfer will give A&M a serious look.

Finally, the staff hasn't ruled out a traditional transfer player who must sit out a year. I bring this up because Texas' leading scorer in 2013 Sheldon McClellan asked for his release yesterday and wants to transfer after butting heads with Rick Barnes throughout the season. According to one source, McClellan's early preference list is Miami, Louisville, and Texas A&M. A&M gives him the local option and ability to stay close to his mom in Houston. Also, if you recall McClellan (who will be a junior w/ two years of eligibility) was very close friends and high school teammates with Tobi Oyedeji who signed with A&M but tragically passed away in an auto accident coming home from his prom three years ago.

What we don't know is how Texas will handle the release. Typically, schools block releases to teams within the same conference for obvious reasons. But given the recent bad blood with Texas A&M regarding realignment, will the Horns add the Aggies to the block list. If so, that will eliminate any possibility of coming here. Even if he's free to transfer to the Aggies, this option still seems like a longshot. First, the staff wants help next year first and foremost. Second, one of the reasons why Barnes and McClellan didn't get along was the coach's frustration with McClellan's lack of focus and effort on the defensive end. The staff must have some assurances that the issues of motivation were personal with Barnes, and not a permanent headache that the new coach would absorb.

Either way, unless Frazier shocks the basketball community and picks A&M, don't expect to see much movement from the staff in the short term to fill that last spot.

6. The 5-1 first place Texas Aggie baseball team will start a crucial three-game series with South Carolina starting tonight. The game will be on ESPNU (thanks SEC for having college baseball on TV) starting 6:30. Since it is Easter weekend, the series was moved up a day. Also, given that Kyle Martin caught a bug in Oxford over the weekend along with Daniel Mengden throwing on Sunday with Saturday's rain out, Coach Childress decided to start freshman Grayson Long tonight so Martin can have his usual seven days rest and it also gives Mengden an extra day's rest on a short week.

Playing at South Carolina will be tough for a true freshman. If getting the ball to start the series against the two-time national champion wasn't enough, the bright lights of national television will also be shining on the inexperienced fish from Barbers Hill (Baytown). So frankly, I could easily see the kid get caught up in the moment and come out with his knees knocking and struggle out of the gate. Then again, you can also get the "Ross Hales performance". If you recall a few years back, A&M had to start little-used true freshman lefty Ross Hales against Texas at Disch-Falk on FSSW. He promptly threw a 3-hit shutout in a rare win in Austin. It can happen, and Long certainly has the talent to mow down the Gamecocks, but does he have the composure to pitch well in this high profile game on ESPNU? We'll see.

If the Aggies can take two out of three this weekend, then I think we can start talking about this team in the mix for the SEC title and a potential NCAA regional host. But realistically, winning one game out of three on the road against arguably the best college baseball program over the past five years is considered holding serve at this point. At 6-3, the Aggies would go home for the next six SEC games when the schedule turns in their favor during this next stretch.

7. Ok, some of you accused me of slobbering over Shreveport QB Brandon Harris the other night after I spoke to him. Yeah, I get excited about a kid when he seems to have those leadership intangibles and this kid has just that. But I don't like him strictly because he gave a good interview. For several weeks he's been my No. 1 target at QB after watching over 20 minutes of junior highlights of the 6-foot-3, 194 pound gunslinger. On film, he has very good footwork. He's accurate. He has a strong arm and while he doesn't have the escapability of a Justice Hansen, he is very fast and shows off great acceleration when he scrambles. He told me he runs a 4.53 forty which is plenty fast for a dual threat QB. He's also still growing (projected to be 6-foot-4) and he has Manziel-like large hands. He gave me the dimensions, but I forgot to write it down.

The closest comparison on the field is Reggie McNeal. Thy have the same build. Both have strong, fairly accurate arms. In fact, they even resemble each other in the face. The difference is the personality. Reggie was laid back and there were some questions about his leadership and character whether true or not. This kid is a leader and a type A personality that's closer to Stephen McGee than McNeal.

It appears the A&M staff has Hansen near the top currently, and he may make a decision before Harris is ready to narrow it down, so this may all be a moot point. In talking to some of the Oklahoma sources at Scout.com, it appears Hansen's recruitment will come down to the Sooners and Aggies, and most people feel that after the recent A&M visit, this race has become a coin flip. In my experience, the tie goes to the hometown team which in this case is Oklahoma. But, I'm guessing we'll have an answer before Harris comes down to the A&M camp in June, which he's planning to do at the moment. But by June we should also know the fate of Kohl Stewart and the MLB June Draft, so A&M may be forced to take two QB's and Harris would definitely still be in play along with several other targets like Arizona QB Kyle Allen who many think is the best pocket QB in the nation.

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