Aggie Websider Tidbits

Time for another round of Aggie Websider Tidbits. In this edition, David Sandhop takes a look at how the current 2014 class stacks up against recent clases. He also looks at the remaining targets by position and where things stand, and finally wraps up with the best basketball recruiting coverage in the A&M market.

Football Recruiting

By The Numbers

It's been a very good two weeks for Aggie recruiting with two five-star prospects (2014 and 2015) and two four-star recruits (2014) pulling the trigger for the Aggies. As a result, Coach Sumlin and the staff have moved into the No. 1 spot in the 2014 rankings by average star value (3.94). Texas A&M has recruited well since Sumlin took over in late 2011, but this 2014 class puts the Aggies in a new zip code…into the same rent district as Alabama (3.82), Georgia (3.82), and Ohio State (3.74). That's right, A&M is running with the big boys in 2014.

You can see A&M's progression in recruiting going back to 2010:

Avg Star Rating and National Rank

2010 3.14 #21
2011 3.00 #31
2012 3.30 (Sumlin/Sherman class) #16
2013 3.55 #11
2014 3.94 #1
2015 4.25 (four commits) #1

I posted this on the board a couple of days ago, but Texas A&M currently has 14 four-five star commits and that number should go up to 17-18 by signing day. Here are the numbers of four-five star commits/signees since 2010.

Four-Five Star Overall Commits(Signees)

2010 4
2011 4
2012 6
2013 16 (out of 31)
2014 14 (out of 17)

It's clear to see what has happened in recruiting since the class of 2013. That talent will begin to show up on the field in 2014, with the talent peaking for the 2015 season. On a side note, of the four 4-5 star signees in the 2010 class, three were on the offensive line (Matthews, Joeckel, Ogbuehi). And the OL has been the strong point of the team the past three seasons. It's no coincidence. Recruiting elite prospects does matter.

But there's an even greater recruiting trend that doesn't show up in those overall numbers. The Aggies were respectable in overall recruiting from 2010-2012 both in terms of star rating and ranking. But most of the four and five star recruits in those classes were on the offensive side of the ball. Add in the fact that players like Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans were only three-star prospects in the 2011 class, and it's easy to see why the offense is so potent on the field today. But let's separate out the defensive players and see how many four and five star prospects Coach Sherman and Coach Sumlin brought to Aggieland in this same time period.

Four-Five Star Defensive Commits(Signees)

2010 0
2011 4
2012 2
2013 7
2014 9 (that could go up to 10-11)

So these numbers clearly show why the defense is struggling this season, and why the future looks bright for Mark Snyder and the Aggies. In fact, the return of the Wrecking Crew may not be far away if these numbers translate to the field, as they should.

Miscellaneous News and the 2014 Closeout

Sitting at 17 commits with one of those a likely medical scholarship (Cedric Collins), the Aggies can still add 7-8 commits the class. Those numbers will include:

Offensive Line 2

Landing four-star juco OL Jermaine Eluemunor takes a lot of pressure off the staff that needs to add a couple of juco's to fill the short-term void that could hit the line in 2014 and 2015. The last JUCO spot is likely to go to tackle Fahn Cooper who confirmed with me that his coach agreed to let him miss a game to take a visit to College Station for the MSU contest on November 8. Cooper's team is highly favored and shouldn't have a problem winning in his absence. The fact that Cooper is willing to miss a game to see a Texas A&M home game is a great signal for the Aggies. On the flip side, you can rest assured that Cooper's coach spoke with the A&M staff to make sure an offer will still be waiting for him if he makes the trip. If he didn't get that assurance, I doubt the coach lets his starting left tackle miss the game for a "placeholder" visit and an uncommitable offer.

Juco Avery Gennesy is now saying he's close to a decision and ready to commit. The question is however….are his finalists (A&M and Ohio State) ready to take his commitment? I'm not so sure. We do know that Ohio State is waiting on priority #1 at JUCO OL, and Gennesy is priority #2. With A&M, the staff hasn't showed their hand with Gennesy yet, although the tea leaves seem to point to their preference for Cooper given the circumstances surrounding his official visit on November 8. It will be interesting to see how A&M handles the situation if the big man from Mississippi calls to commit next week before the MSU game. Do they take him, or try to stall for time. Some are suggesting that the staff may consider taking a third JUCO OL, but I don't think that is feasible or even necessary now that it's looking more and more like Jarvis Harrison will stay, and Cedric Ogbuehi's draft status is still unclear at the moment.

A&M does appear poised to take another high school OL, and the candidates are fast-rising California OL Chris Brown who will visit next weekend, Nevada OL Nick Gates who visited last weekend, and long-time target Braden Smith. In analyzing film, I think Brown has the most long-term potential a tackle, and I think the Aggies need to take a pure tackle with this spot. We'll see how he reacts to his visit to Texas. Despite not having deep roots in California, Brown has been a regular to UCLA and USC games in recent years. While USC is in transition, the Trojan program is still the gold standard for players in California. And while USC is struggling, the Bruins are actually resurging a bit and that could attract Brown. Other than that, we won't know much until he returns from College Station.

On the other hand, Nick Gates did return from his trip giving A&M high marks. While other sites claim that Gates is on the verge of choosing the Aggies while preparing for a visit to Nebraska, he didn't give me the impression he was about to end the process. After Nebraska, he told me he wants to visit Arizona and Oregon, and then have a decision shortly after those December visits. I'll try to give him a call after he returns from the weekend to see if I get a different vibe from Gates as I am intrigued why I got different feedback compared to the other A&M sites that apparently called him as well.

Wide Receiver 1-2

The wide receiver position is still very much in flux. Longtime commit Jamal Jeffery has been battling some injuries this fall, and the Aggies have some difficult battles for the remaining spots. The best shot at landing a highly-rated WR is the fast-rising Frank Iheanacho who took in the Auburn game. A&M has several things going in its favor here. The Aggies were the first elite D-1 program to offer and one of Iheanacho's best friends is former teammate Germain Ifedi. The two talk frequently. However, the heavy hitters like LSU and Oregon have recently offered and the 6-foot-7 receiver will likely take a few visits. He's supposed to visit Baton Rouge for the A&M game, so a good showing will go a long way. That also applies for Speedy Noil who told sources in Louisiana that the Aggie-Tiger game results could go a long way in his decision. He wants to play in a productive passing offense, so a good effort in Death Valley will help. A lot of people are giving LSU the usual home state discount here, and that's a factor for sure, but people close to the situation are saying that Noil can be swayed if the Aggies are convincing in Baton Rouge.

Ever since Davion Hall stated in an interview this summer that he was interested in playing for either Alabama or Texas A&M in the SEC despite being committed to Baylor, A&M recruiting fans have assumed the Aggies were in a strong position to get the switch this fall. I'm not ruling that out, but I'm also hearing from sources that Hall seems more attached to Baylor than he was this summer. He's been committed there so long, and the Bears are rolling on offense and ranked in the top 10. He's always mentioned A&M throughout the process, but he hasn't really seemed to embrace the staff despite brother Tra Carson playing a significant role on the team this fall. The Aggies could survive taking only one receiver in this class after landing a large group in 2013, but with an offense that needs numbers at the position, it's usually not a good idea to go empty-handed at outside receiver in any class.

There's been talk about jumping in on a juco receiver like Daquille Williams, but getting a juco at this late stage in the process given the number of young receivers in the system will be an uphill climb. Any way you slice it, the receiver group in this class will likely be small. Also, LSU is overflowing with receiver commits and targets. They are still targeting several high profile receivers, so if they land another one, Miles could cut loose one of the current commits like D.J. Chark whom A&M likes and offered in the summer before he pledged to the Tigers. So keep an eye on the LSU receiver situation as well.

Defensive Line 0-1

A&M's best shot here is Josh Frazier, and he's a good one. I also think the Aggies have an excellent chance to land the big man, although he lives in the shadows of the Arkansas campus. Frazier is a native Texan and his mom is looking to eventually move back to Texas, but Texas A&M's biggest wild card here could be Bret Bielema and the struggling Razorbacks who could realistically lose every SEC game this season. Not only is the state of the Arkansas program a factor, but the staff's shenanigans on Twitter after Eluemunor switched his commitment to A&M last week was noticed by Frazier from what I'm told. In fact, he retweeted a tweet by somebody admonishing the Razorback staff and its fans for the way they taunted and mistreated Eluemunor after the switch. I'm not saying that alone will send Frazier to College Station, but with so many uncertainties in Fayetteville, the Aggies have a real chance here especially after he loved his official visit earlier this fall.

Edna Carr defensive lineman Gerald Willis is the other option at DL, and there's a chance both he and Noil attend the same school…likely either LSU or A&M. Again, the performance of the Aggie defensive front seven in Baton Rouge will go a long way here. If A&M struggles and gives up big yardage in the rushing game, Willis likely won't give the Aggies the time of day. His big concern with A&M at the moment is the defensive performance. If A&M were to have a good showing, then there's a chance but LSU is still considered the team to beat with him.

Linebacker 1-2

Aggie fans keep holding out hope that Zac Whitley of North Shore could eventually flip, but i just don't see it happening. He's been an Alabama commit too long, and despite rumors to the contrary that he'll visit A&M, he really hasn't shown much interest this fall. The performance of A&M's defense this season hasn't helped, but I'm not sure it could have helped anyway.

But the Aggies look to be in solid shape with Edwin Freeman. He continues to tell that Texas A&M is his slight leader over Texas. It should come down to those two. Freeman is A&M's best chance at landing another four-star linebacker in this class.

John Curtis High School four-star linebacker Kenny Young has been moving up the recruiting rankings with some incredible performances this fall. The Aggies have jumped into his recruitment and have positioned themselves well over the past month for the Louisiana product. In fact, the Aggies probably lead, but with an asterisk and you probably know why….LSU. The Tigers are always a factor when they want a kid from their home state. For now, that's the big question. Does Les Miles want Young? They are recruiting him, but haven't pushed for a commit and some wonder if his offer is commitable. Whether it is or not today really isn't relevant. What matters is what will the LSU staff do in January if they see that their west division rival is about to land a pretty good LB from the Bayou state. That's all you need to know there.

I'm also wondering if the window of opportunity has passed on Argyle linebacker Sam Sizelove, although I'm not sure the A&M staff will pull the trigger on an offer anyway. was at the Argyle game last night and spoke to Sizelove after the game, and it sounded like he's solidified his commitment to Kansas State.

Juco lb Chris Weatherd has been discussed by A&M recruiting fans for several months, and because his mom is an A&M graduate there was an assumption that the Aggies could flip him from Tennessee if they get him on-campus. The Tennessee staff has been very adamant against him taking a visit to A&M for good reason. For now, the pressure is working. Also, the A&M staff hasn't been recruiting him as hard in recent weeks. There's some buzz that the staff is evaluating some other JUCO prospects. To be honest, I don't think anybody knows which direction A&M will go to fill the last spot or two. The staff does feel more confident that Hoza Scott has a realistic chance to qualify, but nobody will know for sure until he takes the SAT/ACT in early December. I expect to see a couple of new targets surface in the coming weeks. A&M can't risk getting only one linebacker into school from this class.

Defensive Back 0-1

Most of the talk this fall has surrounded the recruitment of safety Jamal Adams and cornerback Tony Brown. Both have the Aggies in their top three, and both are leaning to other schools at the moment. The Texas people I talk to seem very confident that they will land Adams even if there is a coaching change next month. National pundits believe his connections to the Florida staff give the Gators the inside track. Nobody is throwing their hat in with the Aggies, and I tend to agree with most observers at this point. He visited A&M and liked it, but never seemed to embrace A&M and the staff. Of the two elite prospects, A&M has a better shot with Brown although many feel he'll follow his sister to LSU. Brown has said he will take an official visit to A&M before he picks a school, so you can't rule out the Aggies for now. Plus, Pat Henry is a big calling card when it comes to the track portion of his career. I won't rule out the Aggies, but A&M fans shouldn't get their hopes up at this stage either unless he sings a different tune after the visit.

With Cedric Collins likely done for his career, I still think the Aggies need to go find another cover corner in this class, but the staff hasn't started pushing hard at other targets at the moment. Four-star corner/safety John Plattenburg is still on the market, but there hasn't been a significant activity by A&M to this point. He's already taken visits to Wisconsin and Oregon, and he still has a lot of schools vying for those last three visits. I've heard good things about this kid, but A&M hasn't been aggressive in his recruitment yet and it's getting late.

Kicker 0-1

The Aggies have shown interest in several kickers including Arkansas commit Cole Hedlund from Argyle. But frankly, with the emergence of steady Josh Lambo and the fact that the staff already has one scholarship kicker on the roster for another two years, I'm skeptical that A&M follows through with taking a commit and giving out another valuable scholarship spot to a kicker. Had Lambo struggled, the story may be different.

Basketball Recruiting

The early signing period for many sports like basketball starts November 13 and goes through November 20. At this moment, the Texas A&M basketball program has one verbal commit (PG Alex Robinson), but they could sign another prospect or two before November 20.

One of those targets is Justise Winslow, the athletic guard/wing who is a consensus top 10-15 national prospect. I spoke about his game previously, but he's more of an explosive "take it to the bucket" creator than he is outside shooter that you expect from a wing. It's that reason why Texas A&M has made an impact and joined the ranks of UCLA, Arizona, Florida, and Duke. They are selling him that he'll have the ball in his hands to create. The offense will go through him, much like Marcus Smart did at OSU last season. At these other high profile schools, Winslow will be one of many quality components and will be asked to play a more traditional role at the wing, which includes having a very solid perimeter game…frankly, the weakest part of Winslow's game. So A&M is saying we'll spotlight you and let you showcase your strengths a lot more than the other programs. So far, this recruiting narrative has worked.

But come on, let's be realistic. The Aggies are still the Toyota Corolla of college basketball competing with the Escalades and Lamborghini's. And while Team Winslow was still including Texas A&M as a finalist as late as last week, there was always that expectation that he would leave his Duke official visit this past weekend and become a Blue Devil.

Well, the A&M staff stopped by St. John's high school for the basketball team's first practice to visit with Justise and his family, and see if there's still a shot. The word I received from my sources? As of yesterday, Justise and his family are scheduled to be in College Station this Saturday, for the third time this fall. I know. I know. Don't get your hopes up just yet, but it can't hurt that less than a week after officially visiting Duke, there is enough interest to meet with the staff and players yet again.

Also, the staff is working on arrangements to bring a very talented international player in for an official visit next weekend. I've been asked to keep the name under wraps for now, but this kid is a long point guard with plenty of scoring ability. He played for one of the elite Adidas international teams in the big August tournament that ESPNU televised. Winslow played on Team USA in that tournament. Looking online, I saw a scouting review of the kid and the expert said this kid would be a Top 50 national prospect if he was in the U.S. I've seen his highlights, and he's a very unique, very talented player that will need some structure on the court…but he's as talented or more talented as Alex Robinson in my opinion…and I like Robinson. There was concern earlier that there wouldn't be room for another guard if Winslow were to somehow pick Texas A&M. I'm told that's likely not the case now. If the staff and players like what they see from this kid and he's a good fit socially, it's not out of the question they offer. And it's not out of the question the kid commits and signs before going back overseas.

Some goober on another website was adamant that Colombia post Tony Trocha didn't even file his paperwork and was never coming to Texas A&M and has since left to go overseas to play. Uh, no. How do I know? Well, I actually spoke to Trocha after the team's scrimmage a couple of weeks ago and he told me he expects to be ready to go at mid-term and he can't wait to play with the Aggies. He was decked out in full Texas A&M gear at Wednesday's exhibition game. The staff is still optimistic that he will join the team at mid-term…and that means the last day of the fall term in mid-December. But a word of caution, don't expect him to contribute much immediately because he hasn't practiced with the team.

As to the mini-controversy with Brent Zwerneman's assertion that there's been some kind of ultimatum delivered to the staff, that seems to be news to the coaching staff. If there is some "this year or else" metric by AD Eric Hyman, neither the basketball staff nor those close to Hyman in the athletic department are aware of it. In fact, a basketball staffer told me they speak regularly with Hyman and President Loftin, and the administration has communicated to them that they are pleased with the improving talent on the roster, and the plan going forward. FYI, the staff fully expects to make the postseason anyway, so to them the so-called controversy is a moot point anyway.

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