Hop's Class of 2008 Grades QB - A
A consensus Top 30 prospect who put up incredible numbers with 38 TD passes to only six interceptions over his junior and senior seasons. He finished with nearly 7000 yards passing and he's also dangerous out of the pocket. He's a mid-term enrollee and will gain seasoning this spring. Dorman gives the Aggies a QB pipeline stocked with capable young talent, and with McGee and Johnson leading the team next year, he'll have plenty of time to develop. Overall, the QB position is in good hands and the future is bright.
RB - A-
The Aggies picked up their No. 1 target at running back in the speedy and explosive Cyrus Gray, who was a consensus National Top 100 prospect. He also played QB for Desoto this past season, so he gives Coach Sherman some versatility at the running back spot. Mangan was originally recruited at linebacker, but he also played fullback and H-back at Brenham and Sherman liked what he saw on film. With Chris Alexander graduating and nobody waiting in the wings, both agreed that Kyle could contribute immediately on the offensive side of the ball. Derrick Hall is a consensus four-star prospect that can be used at running back, but we've listed him separately as an athlete. With underclassmen Michael Goodson and Bradley Stephens positioned to lead the rushing attack next season, the addition of Gray gives A&M three legitimate playmaking threats at tailback for the next 2-3 years so the position is strong. They needed a slasher type of back like Aundre Dean who can gain tough yards between the tackles, but that was one setback with this group and one of the reasons the group missed out on an A+.
WR - B
Yes, losing Lamar Harris and Sedrick Johnson in the last week before Signing Day did hurt, but frankly it was not a devastating blow. Clearly, the cream of the crop is 6-foot-4 Jeff Fuller who was on almost every national Top 100 list published. Sherman's first big coup came early in his tenure when he lured the all-American away from OU shortly before he was set to enroll at mid-term. Fuller is already impressing players and staff in offseason workouts and expect to see him contribute from day one next fall. Certainly, the two losses hurt from a depth standpoint, but as I've said repeatedly for several years, if there's a position where you can afford a miss, it's receiver because there's so much talent year-in and year-out at the wide out spot in Texas. Sherman has already positioned the program well to land several highly-rated receivers in 2009. A program can quickly recover from a miss at this position, unlike offensive line or defensive line. The position still needs to develop a money receiver, and it could be Fuller, but the losses in this class won't have much effect on next year's team. What it does do is put pressure on the staff to deliver at the position in 2009.
TE - A-
Josh Ayers is listed on the athletic department's list as a tight end. There's a good possibility he could move over to OL, but for now we've included him with the tight ends. Also, there's been talk of Blake Chavis starting out at defensive end, where he really turned heads as a senior. Blake has a frame very similar to his older brother at A&M, Billy and the staff is excited to get him in the fold at either position. The key at this position is K.J. Williams, who really impressed the staff and observers (including me) at last summer's Game Night Camp. He has similar skills to Martellus Bennett in that he can stretch the field and use his long body to gain advantages over shorter DB's, and his speed and quickness to shake linebackers. If he qualifies, and many feel he has a good chance, he could become a playmaker at tight end. The loss of Bennett and Thomas has left a void at TE, so the staff is struggling for an answer. Williams could be that guy to help fill the void.
OL - C+
Coach Sherman was quite candid in discussing the offensive line crop, all of them recruited to A&M by the previous regime that placed more emphasis on size and strength. Sherman is looking for more agility and quick footwork. There are several in this class that have the footwork that Sherman desires, and the others are being asked to focus on improving in the agility area. This is a solid class that fills significant needs on the roster. At least two will be needed to step up and provide immediate depth with this year's departure of all five starters. The Aggies swung and missed on some of the state's elite tackle prospects like J.B. Shugarts who chose Ohio State over Texas A&M that's just an hour away from his home in Klein. A&M also missed on prospects like Ben Habern (OU), Stephen Good (OU), and David Snow (Texas). A&M will be desperate to land some tackles in next year's class. The good news is that they are close to landing two of the state's best tackle prospects. The bad news is they are probably three years away from contributing on the field.
DL - A-
Last night's decision by Rod Davis to sign with Texas A&M was huge. First, good defensive tackles are hard to come by in college football. When a team focuses on a good one, they can't waste any chances. Second, it was a head-to-head win against Texas, something that the Aggies need to do more of if they expect to compete for the Big 12 South. Third, A&M is in dire need of immediate help with seniors Henry Smith and Red Bryant graduating and the pipeline relatively thin. Adren Dorsey avoided the recruiting hype, and that's why you didn't hear much about him. However, he showed well at the Game Night Camp last summer and he definitely has the tools to be an early contributor. You know the story of Eddie Brown. He's about as fast of a defensive lineman as you'll find, and he single-handedly obliterated Houston Yates in the playoffs last season. Tony Jerod is also a talented playmaker who was recruited by several high D-1 programs including Texas. The key for this group is seeing if both Jerod and Brown can qualify academically and show up in August. If so, this group gets a solid A-. If not, then the grade could slip to as low as a C+. This group also needed a pure pass-rushing defensive end. They identified 2-3 candidates and brought a couple in for visits, but it was just too late in the process. Look for the staff to load up on quick defensive ends in 2009.
LB - B+
This is my all-underrated position in this class. The recent buzz has focused on the late recruitment of Ricky Cavanaugh, rightfully so once you see the video of the Class 4A 1st team all-state linebacker with 23 sacks as a senior. That's not a typo…23. However, not much has been mentioned about longtime Lexington recruit Andrew Wolridge, who is an impressive physical specimen that was the heart and soul of the Eagle defense. It's rare to find that kind of athlete in the 2A ranks. He collected 219 tackles over the past two seasons and he was a first team Class 4A all-state linebacker. Buckley is a hard-nosed playmaker from little-known Palacios that will surprise some people. In all, the linebacker position is in relatively solid shape with Anthony Lewis, Matt Featherston, and Derrick Stephens returning. However, it appears the staff wants to shift to a 3-4 base package and want more "Ricky Cavanaughs" in the program and they missed on Jacquies Smith who would have fallen into that category.
DB - C
This was a need position, with the Aggies set to graduate the likes of Arkeith Brown, Danny Gorrer, Alton Dixon, and Devin Gregg. In Furtch, the Aggies nabbed their man at safety. He has speed and size, and excellent athleticism. He stars on his high school basketball team. Hunter and Frederick at Katy became hot properties after great senior seasons leading Katy to another state title. Both prospects committed to the Aggies with little fan fare, but with recruiting services focused so much on junior performances and early recruiting, prospects like Hunter and Frederick who come from an established winning program not playing as much as a sophomore or junior, it's hard to get the national attention in that final senior season. These three signees are excellent pickups, but losing Markelle Martin and then Jordan Fields eroded the depth need at the position and that will force the staff to utilize JUCO's and freshmen in 2009. That's not the best of worlds, especially in the pass happy Big 12.
ATH - A
He can play running back, where he spent most of his senior season. He can play in the slot and has excellent hands to take swing passes out of the backfield. He can also play cornerback. He will start on the offensive side of the ball, and we'll see what happens after that. Either way, he's a Top 25 quality athlete that will help somewhere on the field. He does need to take care of business in the class, but he should be in College Station this summer.
OVERALL GRADE - B+
It's a very solid class, especially considering the controversy of McKenzie-Gate and the subsequent coaching change in late November. There are some holes in this class, particularly depth at receiver, a quick offensive tackle, a pure speed defensive end, and depth at cover corner. However, Sherman did come in and landed two high profile national recruits in Fuller/Gray, and he is starting build the foundation for the Wrecking Crew again with a speed linebacker like Cavanaugh.
2008 Recruiting Class Grades
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