Aggie Websider Friday Tidbits

We're coming down the home stretch of 2014 recruiting with the Aggies looking to top off a Top 5 class at safety and linebacker. It's also time to officially begin the Class of 2015 with A&M holding its first junior day on Sunday. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a look at the big recruiting weekend ahead.

Football Recruiting

Finishing Up 2014 Recruiting

We've seen a few new details come out this week with the last remaining targets of the 2014 class. Really, most of the drama is gone in terms of how this class will end up in the national rankings. There are some critical prospects at need positions like four-star linebacker Kenny Young and four-star safety Steven Parker, and then you have high four-star OL Braden Smith coming in for his official visit. But for the most part, the centerpiece elite playmakers are already in place while all positions with the exception of LB and safety are filled with quality athletes.

Just how much quality? If you go by average star rating, the Aggies are currently rated by the major services as follows:

Scout.com #2

ESPN #2

Rivals.com #4

And it doesn't appear that A&M will fall in the rankings in the last weeks before signing day like they did in previous years when the Aggies loaded up early and then spent the last month holding on to the class while others added elite recruits leading up to February. But schools near A&M in the rankings like FSU (26), Tennessee (32), Notre Dame (22), and Auburn (21) all have more commitments than the Aggies at the moment. Only LSU at 19 could easily pass A&M if they can land on some late targets, especially four-star LB Kenny Young who is choosing between the Tigers and Aggies. Anyway, it's safe to say the Aggies will finish with a Top 5 class even in a worst case scenario based on star rating.


Uncommitted Visitors This Weekend

A&M is expecting two uncommitted visitors along with a handful of long-time committed prospects like Shaun Nixon, Zach Ledwik, Jamal Jeffery, and Jarrett Johnson.

Olathe (KS) offensive lineman Braden Smith is already in College Station for his official visit. He just got back from Auburn and he'll be going to TCU next weekend. Auburn is the late comer to the party, and I think the odds are still good that he eventually sticks with either long-time suitor…Ags or Frogs. This one will come down to whether he sees earlier playing time at TCU because of A&M's offensive line depth, or he wants to play in the SEC against some of the best competition in the country in a high profile league. A lot has been made about his sister at TCU, but I think that's a minor factor. As it was with Nick Gates who chose Nebraska over A&M today, does Smith look at this current class of five OL's and two starting underclassmen on the line and decide to sign with the more friendly depth chart at TCU (or Auburn)? That's the big problem for A&M….and it's a good problem to have. It would be great to land Smith, and adding him to this class would not only give A&M one of its best OL classes ever (second to the Joeckel, Matthews, Ogbuehi class), but also one of the top OL's in the nation. However, if they don't land Smith it is not a huge blow given who they've already landed. They could call it a day with the current five and still say the mission in this class was accomplished.

The other official visitor will be Shreveport Woodlawn safety Donovan Wilson. I called Wilson yesterday and I guess he saw my (979) area code and thought I was an A&M coach because he answered "Hey Coach, I was waiting for your call!" When I told him I was "just" a recruiting guy, he was definitely disappointed. It's clear he wants this A&M offer pretty bad and will take it if it comes his way. The bigger question is whether he'll get that offer. The staff made no secrets to Wilson that they have other offers out and they are waiting to hear back from those targets (Parker, McGraw) before moving forward.

Before the Harvey news broke today, I really thought the staff would pass on Wilson and put all of their eggs into the McGraw and Parker baskets. They would like to add two safeties/nickels in this class, but I'm not sure they are married to the idea that they MUST take two for depth sake and are willing to hold off on Wilson if he doesn't pass the eyeball test this weekend. Why? Because the 2015 DB class is so strong and if they only take one additional safety, that opens the door to take a larger, more talented group next year. But, if Harvey bolts, then that could change the situation. They won't know; however, by the time Wilson leaves. Thus, I'd be surprised if they offer Wilson until they hear back from either Harvey or Parker after the visit.

That's a long way to say that the staff now must figure out the current situation with Harvey and Parker before they take Wilson at this point. I don't think the staff is in a position now to tell Harvey "see ya" for going behind their back at the last minute in the process, so I think they will take a "wait and see" approach with all three prospects.


The Remaining 2014 Targets

Steven Parker isn't talking much since meeting with the A&M staff early in the week. As I've mentioned several times, sources are saying the staff is cautiously optimistic about Parker…enough so that they are willing to wait on him. I'll provide some percentages later, but this one is pretty close to 50-50. Others think OU is the favorite, but the fact that the staff continues to send a lot of resources at Parker's recruitment reflects that they think they have a legitimate shot here.

Mattrell McGraw seems to be down to Oregon and the Aggies. He was originally scheduled to go to UCLA with Kenny Young next week, but I'm hearing he may not go and is ready to pick even though he's technically waiting to announce his choice on one of the signing day shows. A&M told him this week that they need to know something sooner in private prior to the announcement. From the buzz I'm hearing, A&M should feel good about where things stand.

The staff is less confident on John Curtis HS Kenny Young. It's not that they don't feel good about him, it's just that they don't know how to feel about him at this point. They felt his trip to A&M went well and they were feeling pretty good about landing him. But since then he's been on an official visit to Arkansas, left for Oklahoma State this weekend, still may go to UCLA, and is expected to finish up at LSU. When recruits bundle multiple trips late in the process, the volatility goes up significantly. Recruits typically get tired and worn down after a couple of consecutive visits in rapid succession. If he makes it through the gauntlet of all five visits in three weeks without ending the process early, then that will be a first that I've seen. Usually, a kid takes two, maybe three quick visits, then gets tired and calls it a day. That's significant because Young is scheduled to visit LSU last, but so far he's holding up well and is on trip No. 3 in a week's time. The staff simply doesn't know what to expect from these multiple visits. Young is staying in touch with A&M players on Twitter and he is very positive on his account toward Texas A&M. I think the depth chart really helps A&M here, and I still say that the choppy relationship with LSU over the past 6-8 months will eventually catch up to them. But, it's LSU and a Louisiana target so you can never count out the Tigers.

A&M has been flirting with Ole Miss LB commit DeMarquis Gates from Lovejoy HS in Georgia. He's an intriguing prospect because as a junior he was poised to be one of the best LB prospects in the nation, but he blew out his knee and missed his senior season. He's currently a three-star prospect on Scout, but a network source told me that had he been healthy he was poised to move up and get a fourth star after an incredible run through the Georgia playoffs in 2012. I'm told he's a freakish athlete and he has a frame to grow into a 6-foot-3, 240-pound physical linebacker. He's about 215 lbs. right now. Gates is in Oxford this weekend, but has indicated to the A&M staff that he would like to take a visit next weekend. Hat will depend on his mindset after this weekend, and A&M's mindset after evaluating their situation with Alaka and Young.

Speaking of Otaro Alaka, both head coaches fired their last recruiting bullets in Alaka's home last night. There was some talk about the linebacker going to Austin on his own dime to get to know the new Texas staff better. That apparently will not happen according to multiple sources. I think that is a very good sign for the Aggies. Sources feel pretty good about this one, but the fact remains that Alaka has been committed to Texas for 9 months and originally cited a better comfort level with the school's setting in Austin. So A&M has the burden to flip him, but I think they've done enough to get the job done in the end. Expect an announcement via Twitter early next week.


Class of 2015 – Junior Day

I discussed the junior day in last week's tidbits, but let's take a look at a refreshed visitor list. A few names are missing like Shreveport Woodlawn junior DT T.D. Moton, and the highly-touted Warren Easton HS trio from New Orleans are making their second visit to Texas A&M, after coming in for a camp visit last summer. Top 10 prospects Kyler Murray and Malik Jefferson have been confirmed for the Sunday festivities and that makes this a virtual who's-who of the Class of 2015 Texas high school football. My favorite 2015 OL, Conner Dyer, confirmed with me that he'll be in College Station Sunday. I'm not sure he'll make the trip on Sunday, but after a VERY productive in-school visit with Kevin Sumlin, West Orange Stark and long-time Alabama commit Deionte Thompson, the Top 10 safety didn't rule out a surprise trip to the junior day festivities. Here's what we have for now…

Junior Day Visitors

DB Larry Pryor (Top 30)

LB Malik Jefferson (Top 3)

Ath J'Mychal Hasty (Top 40)

OL Trevor Elbert (Top 30)

DB Kendall Sheffield (Top 5)

DB Kris Boyd (Top 20)

WR Kemah Siverand (Top 20)

WR Ryan Newsome (maybe)(Top 40)

OL Toby Weathersby (Top 40)

OL Connor Dyer (Top 20)

DB Deionte Thompson (maybe) (Top 10)

QB Kyler Murray (Top 10)

WR Jalen Guyton (Top 50)

LB Arthur McGinnis (Top 10 in Louisiana)

WR Tyron Johnson (No. 1 in Louisiana)

DB Deshawn Capers-Smith (Top 10 in Louisiana)

DL Daylon Mack (commit) (No. 1)

RB Jay Bradford (commit) (Top 40)

RB Rodney Anderson (commit) (Top 20)

TE Jordan Davis (commit) (Top 10)

DB Justin Dunning (commit) (Top 30)

OL Greg Little (2016) (Top 10)

DB Brandon Jones (2016) (Top 5)


Prospects With a Greatest Chance to Commit This Weekend

DB Larry Pryor

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound safety from Sulphur Springs has been very public about his desire to play at Texas A&M with Daylon Mack and the Fab 5 (or 6). Coach Yates didn't offer, but it sounds like Coach Joseph will offer and when that happens, we expect him to accept that offer eagerly with fellow Fab 5 commits Mack and Justin Dunning in attendance as well.

OL Trevor Elbert

Elbert grew up a Texas A&M fans and he's close friends with former teammate Jay Arnold. He's one of the best tackles in the class. With that said, Alabama has shown a lot of interest so he may hold off until he has a chance to check out Alabama again. But he's certainly a candidate to commit and shut it down after Sunday.

DB Kris Boyd

For some reason, Boyd started off cool on A&M with Coach Yates . However, with the switch to Coach Joseph, this courtship has gotten very warm very quickly in recent weeks. So much so that he's really showing the love to A&M on Twitter and he'd also be a part of the Fab 5-6.

DB Brandon Jones (2016)

Considered by some services as one of the overall best prospects of the 2016 class, Jones has been a longtime Aggie fan and he has been very public about the possibility of being an early commit in the Class of 2016. The junior day could be the right time for the Nacodoches safety to be the first piece of 2016…and if he had any doubts about committing this early, a look at the current safety depth chart could do the trick.


Not Likely But Stranger Things Have Happened

WR Kemah Siverand

Kevin Sumlin has a lot of swag and recruiting juice, and when he spent the first day of the new recruiting period and personally visited with Cy-Ridge Top 25 prospect Kemah Siverand and extended an offer, it made a huge impact on the 6-foot, 180-pound pass catcher. He's one of my favorite 2015 receivers and while he has stated that he wants to take a little time to commit, if he gets caught up in the moment it's not completely out of the question.

QB Kyler Murray

As I said last week, this one is a little tricky. If A&M didn't have a sophomore and freshman battling for the starting QB spot, I think I'd probably move Murray up on my possibility to commit list above. He's been a huge A&M fan growing up and is of course the son of former A&M great Kevin Murray. However, the possibility of sitting on the sidelines watching Kyle Allen play QB for three years is causing Murray to weigh his options. In the end, I think he does choose A&M, and as an honorary member of Daylon Mack's Fab 5(6) with every potential Fab Fiver in attendance, the chance for everybody to feel it and join the class is there…albeit relatively small in my opinion.

OL Connor Dyer

I've spoken to Dyer on several occasions and it's clear that he's intrigued by playing in the SEC with the Aggies. I do think the Aggies may have a slight lead going into the recruiting process, and with this being his first junior day he could get excited and pull the trigger. Plus, OL's seem to commit early in the process along with quarterbacks. However, he has stated that he wants to take his time and check out his options in the spring and make a decision in the summer, but sometimes plans change when it feels right.

LB Malik Jefferson

Jefferson is certainly the highest-rated linebacker in the state and some people think he's 5-star material and worth of unseating Daylon Mack as the best player in the state. A&M and exas were battling neck-and-neck until Texas changed coaches and he lost his recruiting coach that he was close with last year. That pushed A&M into the lead. It's rare to see a national recruit like this commit and end the process so early, but Mack did and he'll be working over all of these East Texas prospect to join the infamous Fab 5 (6). I don't think it will sway Jefferson this early, but since we're dreaming big with the Fab 5, you can't leave out the the biggest fish. They will all be there Sunday. Does the biggest recruiting package deal of all-time materialize on Sunday with all of them in one place?

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