Synopsis of 2009 Recruiting Class

As the 2009 class comes to a close, Aggie Websider takes a look and reviews the crop of talent Coach Mike Sherman has brought in during his first full year on the recruiting trail. Websider recaps the season and hands out grades for each position for next year's freshman class.

With Christine Michael making his Texas A&M commitment public this past week in San Antonio and Craig Loston announcing for LSU at the Under Armour Game this weekend, the Class of 2009 is almost in the books. In fact, with one month before Signing Day, the Aggies are effectively recruiting one uncommitted prospect, Round Rock Stony Point defensive end Tevin Mims. Mims' recruiting appears to be coming down to a two team race between the Aggies and Longhorns. Other than that, the job for the coaching staff is to keep the class intact and hold off any last minute suitors for Aggie commits.

That job appears to be manageable this year. First of all, most of these commitments have been in the maroon camp for 6-10 months and have shutdown the recruiting process. There's no doubt surprises always occur in January, but it's safe to say that those surprises will be few and far between with only Shreveport Byrd linebacker Jonathan Stewart a real threat to switch with a trip to Alabama planned next weekend. Even at that, I put A&M's chances to keep Stewart at 75%.

So with this class just about in the books, let's take a quick look at how this class will grade out. Overall, the offensive class of 11 commitments receives high marks with an A-. The class's highest grade goes to the four wide receivers. Three of the four have legitimate 4.4 speed with excellent athleticism and production at the high school level. Brandal Jackson could be someone that contributes immediately with his vertical jump and his ability to come down with the ball in traffic.

At running back, the Aggies picked up arguably the best pure running back in Texas when Christine Michael pledged to A&M. Michael proved his big play capabilities at this weekend's Army All-American Game and will surely see the field in 2009. The Aggies will take just one tight end, Hutson Prioleau from All-Saints Episcopal, a private school in Fort Worth. While there will always be questions whether a small private school athlete can successfully make the transition to the D-1 level, Prioleau appears to have the receiving skills and blocking to be a quality college tight end. The offensive line is in desperate need for an infusion of athletic offensive linemen with good, quick feet. They appear to have gotten that with Scales and Barrera projected at left and right tackle respectively. Barrera will need to make the transition from defensive line to offensive line, but it's a move the Clear Lake product expected and has embraced. Patrick Lewis is a lineman that does everything on the field as well as any lineman in the country. It's just that he doesn't have that 6-foot-4/6-foot-5 frame that elite programs demand.

The coaching staff has loaded up on defensive prospects, adding 16 new players to the pipeline. Given the performance of the defense last year and the state of the current roster, the numbers are warranted. In fact, the coaches are taking two over the limit and grayshirting an extra linebacker and defensive lineman (Arterburn and Nealy). The weakest position in this class is defensive line. Chris Henderson is a quality prospect, but at 6-foot-3, 270 lbs. he's a tweener. He has the mentality of a defensive end, but even though he's determined to get down to 260 pounds that still may not be what this staff is looking for at the end. Kirby Ennis and Andrew Weaver are undersized defensive ends that show potential, but they did not dominate at the high school level and they were not recruited by the elite programs. Spencer Nealy could be the surprise here. He's also a bit of a tweener but he will grow into a tackle. He received high marks in San Antonio Reagan's playoff run and his stock soared. Nealy turned down a full ride by TCU to grayshirt at A&M. Still, this group does not have that proven playmaker. That's not good for a position that desperately needs playmakers, especially at defensive end.

The Aggies found that emerging playmaker at linebacker. Malcolm Johnson emerged as a pass-rushing difference maker with his defensive back speed and linebacker mentality. Unfortunately, Johnson tore his ACL late in the season. While the prognosis for quick return is favorable, there will be questions about him regaining his once-special speed. Jonathan Stewart is that linebacker with a killer instinct and an ability to make plays sideline-to-sideline or plugging up the middle. Keeping Stewart away from Alabama is critical at this position. Sean Porter, Michael Lamothe, and grayshirt Aaron Arterburn round out a solid group at linebacker although questions still remain with Johnson and Stewart.

The Aggies graduated four defensive backs that saw significant playing time in 2008. Plus, few quality replacements are in the pipeline, so the staff needed to fill up on seven defensive backs, many who can play either cornerback or safety. Steven Terrell and Colton Valencia played in the state championship game much like Trent Hunter and Terrance Frederick did the previous year, and there's the thought that the same winning attitude and high level of play will translate to early success at the collegiate level. Coryell Judie is a JUCO all-American and four-star prospect who has the best shot at contributing early in the season. Dustin Harris is an intriguing prospect, a playmaking high school quarterback with the size and speed to make the jump to high D-1 defensive back. The numbers and athleticism are there for this class to enhance the talent at the position, but admittedly this group lacks the star power that a Craig Loston would have brought to the program.

Overall, this class for now receives a B. The offense does have difference makers in this class, and with an improved offensive line in 2010 with the young talent at the skill positions, the unit will be dangerous and could be one of the best in the Big 12 Conference if not the nation. The defense has a large group of talented and capable prospects. The talent on the defensive side of the ball will improve, and the biggest difference will be in better depth across the board. However, for this unit to flourish and not simply just hold the line, they must start seeding some of this good depth with difference makers and guys who can wreak havoc on an offense. Tevin Mims would certainly help at defensive end.

* percentages by each player indicates odds that the player will sign with A&M

Quarterback (0) N/A

Running Back (2) A-

Christine Michael 85%
Kalvin Guyton 99%

Wide Receiver (4) A

Brandal Jackson 95%
Uzoma Nwachukwu 85%
Ryan Swope 95%
Kenric McNeal 99%

Tight End (1) B

Hutson Prioleau 99%

Offensive Line (4) B+

Rhontae Scales 99%
Stephen Barrera 99%
Patrick Lewis 99%
Clint Naron 99%

Offensive Grade A-

Defensive Line (4) C

Chris Henderson 85%
Spencer Nealy 85%
Andrew Weaver 99%
Kirby Ennis 99%

Linebacker (5) C+

Jonathan Stewart 70%
Malcolm Johnson 99%
Sean Porter 99%
Aaron Arterburn 99%
Michael Lamothe 99%

Defensive Back (7) B-

Steven Terrell 99%
Colton Valencia 90%
Coryell Judie 95%
Dustin Harris 99%
Steven Campbell 99%
Desmond Gardiner 95%
Charlie Thomas 95%

Defense Grade C+


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