Dean squeezing in visits

With Katy (TX) running back Aundre Dean still on the baord, there are plenty of schools seeking his services. But with signing day just weeks away, is there a favorite on Dean's list? Where do the Aggies stand? Aggie Websider's David Sandhop visits with the four-star running back.

It's been a hectic stretch for one of the most highly-recruited running backs in the country still uncommitted and taking visits. Katy (TX) running back Aundre Dean is a prospect in high demand, and with a December run to the 5A state championship, the four-star hard-nosed runner is squeezing in his campus visits in the closing weeks of recruiting.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound back took his show on the road last weekend to Arkansas, and the Razorbacks and new coach Bobby Petrino received high marks from Dean.

"It was a good visit," Dean said. "Coach Petrino and the coaches were great, and they know how to win."

But it wasn't just the coaches that impressed Dean. In fact, the highlight of his trip was meeting the people outside of the football program.

"They were down-to-earth, good people up there. It wasn't just about the football," Dean said. "I really felt comfortable with the people."

But the current depth chart situation at Arkansas is also playing a big factor right now with the recent departures of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Dean sees it as an opportunity to play early, but not a guarantee.

"Yes, I'd say that early playing time is one factor in my decision," Dean said. "Arkansas has an opportunity with Darren and Felix leaving, but I know I'll need to compete with other talented running backs where-ever I go and nothing will be given to me."

Dean returned from Fayetteville, and then he made the short 1.5 hour drive on Monday to see Texas A&M and new head coach Mike Sherman. The one-day trip made an impression.

"We sat down and watched a lot of video of his offenses at Green Bay. He told me I fit into exactly what they wanted to do out of the I-formation," Dean said. "It's what we ran at Katy, so I felt pretty good about that."

Since the Katy native only had the one day at Texas A&M, it was all business as Dean spent most of his time talking to Sherman and newly hired running backs coach Randy Jordan.

"I was impressed with Coach Jordan. He's a real good family man and I like that," Dean said. "Coach Sherman seems like a real guy and tells it to you straight with no coach speak. He said he was going to be successful at A&M, and said he was going to win with or without me, but that I'd make it easier to get there."

The Aggies do have several returning veteran running backs like Mike Goodson and Jorvorkie Lane. Will that work against the Aggies coming down to the wire with Dean?

"I don't think so," Dean said. "Coach Sherman said that the veterans will be learning a new system, a system that I have experience playing in. He said that everybody will be starting from scratch next year, and that I would have a shot to earn a spot. He said he thought I was as good as any running back on-campus."

The Aggies do have the home-court advantage so to speak versus schools such as Louisville, Arkansas, and UCLA (where he visits next weekend), but Dean says Texas A&M has more going for it than just being close to home.

"Texas A&M is close and I have a lot of friends going there. That's good to know, but going far away broadens your horizons and you can meet new people," Dean said. "But Texas A&M has everything the other schools offer. It's a great campus and the alumni are extremely loyal to the school. From a university standpoint, there's none better than Texas A&M."

Dean's busy week continues, as he's planning to take his official visit to UCLA, a school he was committed to until their coaching change after the 2007 season.

"I never took an official visit there, and I want to meet the new coaching staff," Dean said. "It's a beautiful campus and the academics are top notch. I just feel I need to re-visit their situation and see if it still fits me."

There's been mention of a fifth visit to be taken the first weekend in February, but the highly-touted recruit isn't sure that will happen at this point.

"I may possibly visit Texas, but I just don't know about that now," Dean said. "There's an outside chance I go to LSU, but I don't know. The UCLA visit may be it. I'll see how I feel when I get back."

At this point, Dean says he's wide open and still evaluating his options. He's not sure when a final decision will come, whether it's after he gets back next weekend, or it's closer to Signing Day.

"Fox 26 (Houston) wants me to do it on their Sunday night broadcast this weekend," Dean said. "If I feel I'm ready, I may do it, but right now probably not. I need to sit down with my family and pray about it and discuss what's the best place for me."

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