2013 Football Recruiting Overview - Defense

With the regular season over and the December contact period in full swing before the team starts preparations for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, the Texas A&M coaches have scattered across the country to put the finishing touches on a Top 5 class. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a look at the remaining A&M targets on the defensive side of the ball.

Defensive Line (0-1 more)

Targets:

Gerald Willis

I'm still listing DL Gerald Willis out of Edna Carr in New Orleans mainly because the staff is still recruiting him and will be at his playoff game this weekend followed with a home visit next week. But most Louisiana sources believe the four-star lineman is destined to be a home state Tiger…and history backs that up. The strength of this 2013 class is at a huge need position – defensive end. Myles Garrett is one of those special talents that has the potential to make an impact from day one. Terry Price stopped by to visit with him today, and he's solid. Then you have two four-star ends in Qualen Cunningham and Jarrett Johnson to compliment the five-star Garrett. After loading up at defensive tackle last year, the staff ran out and reeled in the top tackle in the state with Nederland's DeShawn Washington. In the past two recruiting classes, A&M has beaten out both Texas and OU for three of the top four DT's in the state. So taking the one tackle has been the plan all along. So the rest of the way, the staff will be working to keep the current group happy until signing day, and then keep doing work with Willis and hope for a haymaker.


Linebacker (2-3 more)

Targets:

Edwin Freeman
Kenny Young
Ismael Murphy-Richardson
Nyles Morgan
Jimmie Swain
Chris Weatherd

Here's where the rubber meets the road in terms of defensive recruiting. With Hoza Scott's situation looking rather bleak at this point, the staff will need to earn their money in the next 45 days reeling in at least two, and preferably three linebackers. It starts this weekend with three linebacker recruits expected in town for official visits – Ismael Murphy-Richardson, Jimmie Swain, Edwin Freeman. Freeman is the longtime in-state target that A&M waited to offer initially in the spring and it bit the staff because Texas jumped in and took advantage and took the lead. It's been a struggle for the Aggies to overtake Texas for Freeman, but it's getting tight and will come down to the visits. He's an impressive athlete that played most of his career at safety but his frame screams linebacker at the next level.

Swain is a four-star LB from Olathe, Kansas and has been a longtime TCU commit despite quite a few nationally elite programs offering in the fall. Until the staff had a positive in-home visit earlier in the week, it appeared that A&M was late to the party and he'd stick with the Frogs. However, he abruptly de-committed from TCU on Wednesday and quickly scheduled this weekend's official visit. The timing bodes well for the Aggies but he still may take a couple of additional visits. Based on what I'm hearing, I wouldn't be surprised if he committed if all goes well on the visit. This will be his first trip to College Station and Texas A&M, so we'll just have to wait to see how much he liked it.

Not much is known about Arizona product Ismael Murphy-Richardson other than he's about the quickest 6-foot-4 human I've ever seen. The kid is an incredible edge rusher with Myles Garrett-like quickness. The issue is where is his natural position? A&M apparently likes him at linebacker. I watch his tape and I see a talented tweener…but a tweener nevertheless. At about 210-215 lbs., can he put a hand down on the ground without getting pushed around? At 6-foot-4, does he have the backpedal and closing speed to cover in space? If the answer to either question is yes, then he'll be a special player. His recruitment is quite the mystery. This weekend's visit to A&M will be his first official visit, and he has no other visits scheduled at the moment despite receiving offers from over 15 offers including Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, OU, USC, UCLA, Michigan, Washington, and both Arizona schools. Could the Aggies pull a fast one and get him locked up before other schools can bring him in for a visit? Really, I don't know and won't know until I can speak to him when he leaves campus on Sunday.

A&M has been recruiting Illinois four-star LB Nyles Morgan for months, but he seemed more interested in other schools and has taken four official visits to date – Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Florida, and Vanderbilt. But an in-home visit by Coach Sumlin a couple of nights ago excited the national LB prospect as he took to Twiiter to discuss that excitement. In an interview with a Scout.com analyst yesterday, he mentioned that he's strongly considering taking his last visit to Texas A&M. This is one that the staff takes a big swing on, and hope to hit it out of the park.

Kenny Young is a big tackling machine from Louisiana. The A&M staff held their weekly in-home visit last night and by all accounts it went very well. As we reported a couple of weeks ago, LSU and Young had an issue that resulted in both parties breaking off communications for several weeks, but LSU has reconnected and had an in-home visit this week. But that break in communication gave A&M the opening they needed along with Florida State, UCLA, and possibly Oklahoma State. But you can't eliminate LSU until the ink dries on any LOI…so this one looks like an A&M-Florida State-LSU battle for now. He officially visits FSU next weekend and then goes to College Station on January 17. A&M has a very good shot here, but the competition is stiff.

For now, it looks like Navarro JUCO LB Chris Weatherd will join Young on that January 17 weekend after finding out he would not be a mid-term graduate. That news has Tennessee scrambling to see if the Vols staff wants to take him as a May graduate. Thus, Weatherd wants to open up his recruitment and A&M is the logical alternative. As you know, his mom is an A&M graduate but Tennessee got involved and secured his commitment before the Aggies offered. Now A&M has an opportunity for a redo, and from what I'm hearing, the Aggies are willing to wait for his high level pass rushing skills next summer. Of course, that could depend on what happens with a few of these high school targets. But for now, he'll be in town for a visit in January.


Defensive Back (1-2 more)

Targets:

Tony Brown
Steven Parker
Kenny Iloka

The Aggies jumped out quickly in securing four of the top DB's in the state of Texas by last March. But it's been almost nine months since they'll received a DB commit and to top it off, Cedric Collins has apparently suffered a career-ending injury and will not play collegiately. In addition, four-star versatile DB Nick Harvey continues to flirt with the Longhorns, although Harvey repeatedly has re-affirmed his commitment to Texas A&M every time these rumors pop up. Coach Sumlin made a beeline over to Harvey's house this week for an in-home visit to try to squash any rumors once and for all. It appears to have worked for now. Dylan Sumner-Gardner and Armani Watts are 100% solid, and DSG is still planning to enroll at mid-term at last check.

Going forward, the staff has been working hard to stay in the Tony Brown sweepstakes, and Sumlin made his in-home this week prior to Brown's official visit to LSU this weekend. The football staff has enlisted Pat Henry and the nationally-dominant track program, and that's what is keeping A&M alive at the moment. But the Aggies may still trail LSU, and this weekend won't do anything to close the gap. The key will be A&M's ability to follow-up LSU's visit with another trip to College Station, but that seems unlikely right now. It looks like an uphill battle at the moment.

The Aggies' best bet at landing a nationally-elite DB is four-star Oklahoma safety Steven Parker. Parker nearly committed to Coach Sumlin on his official visit back in early November, but his dad talked him out of it and encouraged him to take more visits and take his time. Bob Stoops and Oklahoma along with the entire state is trying hard to keep the home talent in the Sooner state (how does it feel, Bob?) and some network sources are indicating that the campaign has had an impact. However, I'm hearing that the A&M staff feels pretty confident here once they start visiting with him and can neutralize the recent campaign. I think this one will be tougher than some internal sources think, but I do believe A&M has positioned themselves well with the opportunity for early playing time and the close relationship Coach Sumlin has built with Parker.

With that said, the staff initiated recruiting contact with Tyler JC Kenny Iloka, an aggressive hard-hitting safety with above average athleticism and good footwork. Iloka is the younger brother of former Boise State DB (Coach Yates) George Iloka who is currently a starting safety for the No. 6 ranked Cincinnati Bengal defense in the NFL. Thus, if Parker somehow stays in Sooner Country, the A&M staff will have a good back-up plan…and A&M needs a good back-up plan at safety because the position has been a weak link in recent years. Both Howard Matthews and Floyd Raven had disappointing junior seasons and the staff wants and needs additional young safeties to come in and compete for playing time. Thus, one way or another, the Aggies will take another safety in this class.

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