Recruits react to Sherman hire

In a whirlwind courtship, Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne quickly named Mike Sherman as the Aggies' 28th head football coach on Monday. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop interviewed several Texas A&M commitments to get their initial reaction to the new hire and the coaching change.

When the smoke cleared on Monday, and Mike Sherman was the man standing in front of the media in his new maroon blazer given by athletic director Bill Byrne as the Aggies' new head football coach, few Texas A&M former students and fans questioned his credentials as a knowledgeable football coach. After all, the man ran the Green Bay Packer offensive juggernaut for six years and served as head coach and general manager of a storied and valuable football franchise with the success only exceeded by the legendary Vince Lombardi.

However, given the fact that Sherman has not coached, or recruited, in the college ranks since 1996 has raised some concern on the part of some Aggies whether the 52 year-old Massachusetts native can connect with Texas high school prospects and compete with Mack Brown and Bob Stoops for the best blue chips in the state. What better way to find out than to call and check the pulse of those most interested in this new coaching hire – current commitments in the Class of 2008.

While his tenure at Texas A&M didn't work out for Dennis Franchione, he did leave Sherman a loaded recruiting class that has been in place since last spring when A&M went out aggressively and landed verbal commitments from approximately 20 highly-rated juniors. Those juniors are now seniors, and just over two months away from signing their national letter-of-intent.

"I was a big fan of Coach Sherman when he was at Green Bay," said highly-touted quarterback commit Tommy Dorman from Birdville HS. "I like his aggressive offense. I have a good feeling about him, and I'm excited to come in and learn the passing game from him."

Dorman will be a mid-term graduate and will enroll in college this January. His pledge is solid. That doesn't appear to be the case with blue chip running back Derrick Hall of Beaumont Central who is taking the news of Franchione's departure harder than most.

"I don't like it at all," Hall said when referring to Franchione's dismissal. "Coach Fran was the only coach who personally wrote my mother a note when she was sick. I had a personal bond with him. Coach Sherman may be a good coach, but right now I don't care whether he's the former coach of Green Bay or any of that. With Coach Fran gone, I need to look at my options."

Hall's family and coaches are suggesting that he wait and meet with the new coaching staff before leaving the A&M fold, but Hall isn't sure of his future.

"I may meet with the new staff if they want to, but I've got to move on and see what my options are," Hall said. "I'm scheduled to visit Missouri December 8 and I'm supposed to go to LSU after that."

Other Texas A&M commitments appear to be in a wait-and-see mode. In fact, Gilmer wide receiver Lamar Harris indicated last night that the coaching changing will have little effect on his recruiting process.

"It's really the same. The coaching doesn't really bother me," Harris said. "Everything is like before. I'm committed to Texas A&M but you never know what may happen in the future."

Harris wasn't familiar with Sherman's name when he was first announced as the new Texas A&M head coach yesterday, but after talking to friends and family he realized that the Aggies are getting a former NFL head coach.

By the same token, Norman, Oklahoma tight end K.J. Williams didn't know who Mike Sherman was until he spoke to his father about the new hire.

"At first I didn't know who he was, but my step-dad called and said he was the coach of the Green Bay Packers and has a pretty good background," Williams said. "I hope he's an aggressive coach and spreads the ball across the field."

Williams says he's still committed to the Aggies, but he's also taking a wait-and-see attitude. He's scheduled to visit Oklahoma State this weekend on his first official visit. The hometown Sooners are not actively recruiting the combination tight end/defensive end, and Williams admits that the new Texas A&M will get its shot to close the deal on his commitment.

"I'm definitely committed to A&M, but I need to meet the new coaches and see how comfortable I feel with what they are planning to do," Williams said. "If it all checks out, I'll probably stick with my commitment."

Finally, Weatherford defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore indicated that he's also in a holding pattern until he can meet and assess the new coaching staff. He's heard good things about Coach Sherman, but he really didn't want to comment on his commit status until after meeting with the new coaching staff.

Overall, a sampling of Texas A&M commits from last night revealed a wide range of thoughts and emotions over the coaching change, although most suggested that they want to meet with the new staff before making any decisions on their future college destination. Historically, most commitments who wait to meet with a new coaching staff before decommiting and moving on typically stick with their original commitment. If history holds true to form, most of these existing commitments will stick with the Aggies, with the possible exception of Beaumont Central's Derrick Hall who could join Wichita Falls defensive back Markelle Martin who switched his commitment from A&M to OU yesterday.

The Aggie Websider will continue to contact commitments and recruits over the next few days to judge their reaction to the hiring of Mike Sherman.

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