A&M Finally Cracks the Louisiana Nut

Texas A&M football coaches have long recruited the state of Louisiana and have come away with many valuable players. However, yesterday marked the first time in over a decade when the Aggies wen into the bayou state and landed a five-star elite prospect. Is this the start of a new trend in Aggie recruiting?

For you Aggie recruiting fans, mark the date January 2, 2014 on calendar of historical events. Put it into your timeline of memorable recruiting milestones and episodes. Yeah, you've got an open spot next to the Bob Morton saga, and between Chance Mock's business decision and Eric Winston's man crush with Jeremy Shockey. Right there…perfect. But there's something different about January 2, 2014. When A&M fans look back on some of the most memorable recruiting moments of the past 15 years, they are filled with bad memories of message board meltdowns and stories of what could've and should've been. Well, yesterday happened to be a good memory for a change. When Edna Karr (New Orleans) five-star wide receiver Speedy Noil walked up to the commitment podium during ESPN's broadcast of the UnderArmour all-star game, Aggie fans had to think this was another in a long line of recruiting disappointments, especially after rumors surfaced in the morning that his mother talked him into staying close to home at LSU.

Texas A&M fans had seen it numerous times, especially with blue chip prospects from Louisiana. Lorenzo Phillips was an A&M commitment until LSU finally decided to offer. Jarrett Fobbs was a long-time A&M commit that seemed to be in the bag until the Tigers literally offered him a scholarship a week before Signing Day and he quickly put on the purple hat. The list is too long to mention of top Louisiana talent that showed early interest in the Aggies until "momma" called them home with an offer to stay in the bayou state. Sure, the Aggies get their share of quality players from Louisiana. Look at today's roster and you see playmakers like Deshazor Everett, Julien Obioha, Darian Claiborne, Ivan Robinson, and Floyd Raven on the field in maroon. A&M coaches have had good success recruiting Louisiana. But what's the one thing in common with all of those players listed…not one had a committable LSU offer.

So it's easy to excuse hardcore A&M recruiting fans for being a little skeptical of the news earlier in the month when inside sources claimed that the Aggies felt good about their chances to land the five-star explosive athlete from New Orleans. Even when rumors started to circulate at the UA game that Noil was leaning heavily to Texas A&M, Aggie fans didn't want to believe and didn't hold their breath fearing the worst. Then when rumors on LSU boards surfaced that Noil's mother had talked him back into LSU's corner, A&M recruiting fans collectively breathed a sigh of relief as they preferred to hear the inevitable bad news early versus having their hearts ripped out watching Speedy pick out a purple hat live on ESPN.

But something happened on the way to yet another disappointing end to the recruitment of a top Louisiana stud….he pulled out maroon gloves! A&M finally won a head-to-head battle with LSU for a top recruit from Louisiana. It's a first, and a recruiting milestone for this program that now flies the flag of the most accomplished football conference in the country and is home to what many feel has been the most exciting college football player in our lifetime over the past two seasons. This is big. A&M has gotten this type of talent many times. Heck, arguably the best player on Tropicana Field yesterday was Aggie commitment Myles Garrett. However, for Texas A&M to finally crack the toughest of nuts through the years and finally breakthrough on an elite Louisiana kid is worthy of being mentioned alongside the Sirr Parker press conference phone call and the Martellus Bennett trifecta.

And for a change, it was a relief to watch another team message board meltdown. In visiting one of the top free LSU message boards yesterday after the announcement, I witnessed the frustration, anger, and irrational rationalizations that we've all become too accustomed to on Aggie boards following a big commitment announcement. In a way, I feel for the LSU fans cursing Speedy Noil and calling him a traitor for leaving their state to play for the enemy in Texas.

Michael Brockers (2009)
Russell Shepard (2009)
Craig Loston (2009)

It's not unique to see grown men on a message board personally attack a young man for picking the other school. It happens with every school's fanbase that follows recruiting. This country has fallen in love with college football and lifeblood for every D-1 program….recruiting.

Luke Muncie (2010)
Zach Lee (2010)
Evan Washington (2010)

We've heard all the usual lines from the scorned recruiting fan, so seeing LSU message board posters calling Noil overrated and "just another Russell Shepherd who won't amount to anything" is very predictable. It's a normal reaction to rationalize the situation and downplay the talents and ability of the recruit that committed elsewhere.

Trevon Randle (2011)
David Jenkins (2011)

Of course, no meltdown can be complete without the classic rant about future employment, "Speedy is dead to me. He better make it to the NFL because that A&M degree won't get him a job inside the state of Louisiana." Minus the dead part, Aggie fans are all too familiar with this sentiment, especially when players from the state of Texas were leaving a robust southern jobs market for the dying rustbelt economy with flourishing football programs a decade ago.

Corey Thompson (2012)
Danielle Hunter (2012)
Jalen Mills (2012)

There was one unique meltdown rant that, as veterans of digesting bad recruiting news, we haven't seen that was very timely and fit nicely into recent current events, "Have fun playing on an awful A&M team, Speedy. No Manziel. No Defense. No championships." It's good to see Johnny Football will now be a staple subject of any trash talking opponents. Really, the Collie Station and sheep jokes were starting to get a little stale.

Jamal Adams (2014)
Edward Paris (2014)
Tony Upchurch(2014)

Trust me, LSU fans. Aggies feel your pain. In fact, A&M fans have lived that pain of watching homegrown talent leave the state to bring victory and prestige to other schools…like LSU. A&M fans feel your pain from yesterday. Now, do you feel A&M's pain over the past couple of decades?

Time will tell if the commitment of Speedy Noil will be the start of a more permanent shift where Texas A&M can go into the bayou state and land an elite player or two on a regular basis, or of this was just a blip on the recruiting timeline of history. But for now, A&M fans are pretty excited about finally cracking that nut and getting an elite recruit from a very fertile and underrated recruiting region. Add in the usual riches that are generated in the lone star state, and maybe there is life after Johnny Football for the Aggies, Tiger fans.

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