2009 Recruiting Grades

After all was said and done, how did the Aggies fare landing Mike Sherman's first full class at Texas A&M? Websider's David Sandhop grades each position and let's you know where A&M hit, and where A&M missed.

Quarterback (0)

The Aggies went after a couple of quarterbacks early, but with three capable quarterbacks (all with 3+ years of eligibility remaining), this was not a high priority position and by the summer the staff decided to concentrate on 2010 where they've already received a commitment from one of the top signal callers in the state, Jameill Showers.

Position Grade N/A

Running Back (2)

Kalvin Guyton
Christine Michael

With the overall struggles of the program over this decade, getting elite difference makers to College Station has been a struggle. So, the coaching staff gets big marks for landing Christine Michael for being the first to get him to campus and really set the tone for the remaining 12 months. Programs like LSU, OU, and Florida entered the picture at times, but in the end A&M's hard work paid off. Michael is a hard runner with special acceleration and explosion through the hole. His cutting ability is underrated, as he can cut on a dime as he did in the Army All-Star game. He has great hands and will be able to catch the ball out of the backfield, and he has very good size and strength. He has no weaknesses. Not many people talk about Houston Lamar Kalvin Guyton, and that was a result of a truncated season due to Hurricane Ike and some nagging injuries. He's a capable back that is compact and thick. He has the skill set of a tailback, but he's a guy that can grind out some tough yards between the tackles. Coach Sherman wants running backs who can catch out of the backfield, and that may be Guyton's biggest strength.

Position Grade A+

Wide Receiver (4)

Brandal Jackson
Kenric McNeal
Uzoma Nwachukwu
Ryan Swope

I like this receiver class because it's a versatile group that compliments the big, physical receivers Jeff Fuller and Ryan Tannehill already on campus. Uzoma Nwachukwu has the greatest upside potential because of his pure athleticism. He can stretch the field both vertically and horizontally and has very good size. He was also a good blocker along with being a vocal team leader during Allen High's state championship run. Brandal Jackson is likely the most polished receiver with great hands and excellent route running. He doesn't have elite speed but his signature strength is his hand-eye coordination and his vertical to go up and get the ball in traffic. Ryan Swope could play several positions and played running back in high school, but it appears the Aggies will try him first at the slot position. He's someone that could be anywhere on the field including special teams because of his legitimate 4.38 forty speed. Kenric McNeal didn't get much publicity due to an injury his senior season, but he combines sub-4.4 speed with the ability to make defenders miss after the catch. He'll need to add some bulk to his frame. A&M had great success at the receiver position last season, but lacked the homerun hitter with speed to stretch the field. With two 4.3's and a 4.4 forty signee in this class, the mission was accomplished.

Position Grade A-

Tight End (1)

Hutson Prioleau

In a down year for tight ends in the state, the A&M staff landed their number one prospect. Prioleau is a big body prospect with great hands who impressed the staff at their camp shortly after committing. There's some concern about the competition level as his played in the private school league but he performed well at several combines and then the camp which put the coaches' minds at ease. They could have use another prospect at the position given the lack of depth on the team, but the staff never seriously went after another tight end in the last six months and they were satisfied with the one-man class.

Position Grade B

Offensive Line (4)

Stephen Barrera
Patrick Lewis
Clint Naron
Rhontae Scales

The Aggies' one major defection in this class came from Dickinson OL Ivory Wade who switched his pledge to Baylor back in the summer because of the program ties to the Trahan family. Otherwise, the Aggies landed many of their targets. In fact, Coach Sherman indicated that of the first seven OL's offered, A&M received commitments from these four. The Aggies desperately need tackles, and they signed two in Stephen Barrera and Rhontae Scales, both preseason Top 30 state prospects. Barrera is a converted defensive lineman and his large frame footwork has the staff very excited. Patrick Lewis may be the most accomplished and tenacious blocker of the group and reminds Coach Sherman of center Calvin Collins, a four-year starter and NFL player in the early 1990's. Had Lewis been a couple of inches taller, he would have easily been a national caliber prospect. Clint Naron is a big-framed lineman who also projects inside at the guard position and was rated a four-star prospect by Scout.com. Given A&M's desperate need for tackles, this group could have used another pure tackle but this is clearly A&M's best OL haul since Franchione's first class that included Yoder, Elder, Clark, Wallace, and Adams.

Position Grade B+


Defensive Line (4)

Kirby Ennis (DE)
Spencer Nealy (DE)
Andrew Weaver (DE)
Chris Henderson (DE/DT)

The Aggies lost a lot of veterans along the defensive line, especially at defensive end. While A&M has multiple holes to fill on defense, it all starts up-front with being able to put pressure on the quarterback which takes the pressure off the rest of the defense. The Aggies missed out on the elite difference makers in the state, and that's the reason why this unit receives the lowest position grade of this class. All four signees bring a lot of potential to the table, but they don't appear ready-made to contribute from day one and that's what the 2009 team needs. At 6-foot-4, 240 pound, Kirby Ennis is the one signee that has the ideal size the staff is looking for at defensive end. He's someone that will be given every chance to crack the rotation this fall. Andrew Weaver started his senior season at linebacker and struggled. The Waco High coaches moved him to defensive end and he became a completely different player which is why many Big 12 teams jumped on him late. At only 213 pounds, he'll need to put on 25+ pounds but his quickness and footwork will make him their designated pass rusher in passing situations. Spencer Nealy could be the sleeper of this group. He played in the interior in high school and he's working to improve his quickness and foot speed with an intensive offseason program. I can tell you now, there will be no player in the program that works harder than this kid. In the regional quarterfinal, the opposing coach at Los Fresnos indicated that Nealy was the best player on the field and had high D-1 talent and ability. Nealy is the son of a former professional basketball player who earned Player of the Year honors in San Antonio, the same area where Texas five-star prospect Calvin Howell resides. Chris Henderson is a hugely talented defensive lineman from Dallas Carter with great quickness and athleticism for a 270-pound prospect. At 6-foot-2, he's considered a tweener prospect but still received serious interest from Oklahoma and he was constantly double-teamed in high school.

Position Grade C-

Linebacker (5)

Aaron Arterburn
Malcolm Johnson
Michael LaMothe
Sean Porter
Jonathan Stewart

It was sorely evident in 2008 that the Aggies needed speed at the linebacker position, but more importantly they needed playmaking linebackers with instincts for the ball. The situation deteriorated so much at the position that the position became a collection of athletes playing out of position with little linebacking experience in their careers. Johnson, Porter, and Stewart all possess sideline-to-sideline abilities to get out in space and make plays. Stewart is the most highly-rated of the group being seriously recruited by the likes of Alabama and Miami, both programs that finished with Top 10 classes. He's someone that will compete immediately for a starting spot. Sean Porter and Michael LaMothe are very long and rangy athletes that the coaching staff looks for at the position, guys that can run and have the length to cause quarterbacks problems finding targets downfield. Malcolm Johnson is probably the closest A&M has come in years to having that classic speed Wrecking Crew linebacker. He has legitimate 4.4 forty speed and he was a terror in the backfield prior to injuring himself midway through the 2009 season. He's supposed to be back to 100% by August and he's someone that could challenge for playing time early if his knee doesn't limit him. Aaron Arterburn was late find that TCU was zeroing in on. He has sub-4.6 speed and his playmaking abilities have the staff excited. Don't be surprised to see him enter the mix as a true freshman. Overall, the Aggies did as well as anybody could have expected given the depths that this position has fallen over the years. This class is certainly the first step back to respectability.

Position Grade B+

Defensive Back (7)

Coryell Judie
Desmond Gardiner
Colton Valencia
Charlie Thomas
Steven Terrell
Steven Campbell
Dustin Harris

Texas A&M lost a lot of veterans to graduation and potential career-ending injuries. While freshmen Terrance Frederick and Trent Hunter stepped up and will be factors in 2009, the rest of the secondary is wide open and the staff needed to sign a big class of defensive backs. The numbers are there with seven signed. The pedigree is there, with Valencia and Terrell leading their respective teams to the state championship game. The most athletic yet underrated signee could be Livingston athlete Dustin Harris who played quarterback and led the school to its first district title in many, many years. He came to an A&M summer camp and worked out at quarterback and receiver the first couple of days. At the urging of the A&M staff, he worked out the last day at cornerback and he soon received an offer…he was THAT impressive. The prospect with the potential to step-in from day one to contribute is JUCO cornerback Coryell Judie, originally from Marlin. Coach Sherman said he was the staff's No. 1 JUCO corner in the nation, and his ability to locate the ball is phenomenal. Desmond Gardiner is another pure cover corner from Port Arthur Memorial that has the hips and quickness to be a good one. Charlie Thomas from Beaumont went under the radar screen with an early commitment to the Aggies, but the staff is very high on this safety prospect because of his speed and hitting ability. Steven Campbell is another head hunter that has the staff excited about the future. Overall, this class met some pressing needs. Many of the signees are hybrids that can play either position including the nickel position. They could have used one more pure lockdown cover corner, which prevented this group from earning an A.

Position Grade B+


Special Teams (1)

Ryan Epperson

Epperson was a mild signing day surprise. The staff was looking at him along with others as potential walk-on candidates, but they felt he was too good to risk going elsewhere on a scholarship. He'll pay his own way in the fall, then he will be on scholarship in the spring. He's both a punter and a kicker, and he fills a large void at punter left by the graduation of Justin Brantly.



Aggie Digest Top Stories