HD Roundtable: Aggies' losses UT's Gain?

Question: What kind of impact do you foresee Texas A&M's three-game losing streak, which includes a 59-0 loss at Alabama, having on recruiting in the state of Texas? And how much, if any, will the Longhorns benefit from it?

Gabe Brooks’ Take

I'd say it's still too early to tell. The loss at Alabama was brutal and was indeed the Aggies' third consecutive loss, but leaders of the class, such as Daylon Mack and Jordan Davis, have publicly supported Texas A&M during this bad stretch.

While the results certainly aren't what those recruits and A&M fans want to see, they have come against three of the top four-ranked teams in this week's Associated Press poll. A&M's lopsided season-opening win at South Carolina and 5-0 start may have momentarily skewed expectations that weren't near as high in the offseason, when some fans and most media assumed the Aggies might take a step back after losing Johnny Manziel, Jake Matthews, Mike Evans and several other veteran players (including a couple of promising young defenders -- namely, Isaiah Golden and Darian Claiborne -- who would've made significant differences on this unit).

Texas A&M has four games left, three in the SEC. All three of those games, realistically, are games the Aggies could lose. If they lose those three (I don't think they will lose all three) to finish 6-6 overall and 2-6 in the SEC, that could potentially damage the Aggies' reputation in recruiting circles for December and January leading up to National Signing Day. If they were to win two of those three -- and two of them are at home -- that might generate some positive momentum.

Players such as Mack -- whose one-year commitment anniversary is Tuesday -- and Davis will be hard to pry from the Aggies regardless. Their steadfastness may influence others to stick with the Aggies as well. Kyler Murray visiting elsewhere surprises me less than if Mack had, so I wouldn't read too much into that.

As for how all of this could affect Texas, that remains to be seen. If A&M drops those final three games, perhaps Texas can poach away a couple of players. Or, win battles against A&M that have yet to be decided (Kris Boyd?). But that might also depend on Texas' ability to string together some wins down the stretch.

Honestly, I think it's still too early to tell either way. Even with the three-game losing streak, I think A&M is OK for now. I know it's the easy way out, but ask me again around 11 p.m. Thanksgiving night.

William Wilkerson’s Take

I think there is something to be said when your Heisman-winning quarterback tweets "HAHAHA Wow. Make it stop” during one of your program’s worst defeats in school history.

Johnny Manziel later deleted the tweet but the head-scratching/damage had already begun. What kind of message is that sending to current players and, more importantly for this roundtable, to recruits about where Texas A&M is headed?

It’s not a good one, that’s for sure. Social media and Aggie message boards were in complete meltdown mode during Alabama’s thrashing on Saturday, which gave Texas A&M it’s third loss in a row. It very easily could have been four had the Aggies not come from behind to beat Arkansas at Jerry World.

Now all three of those losses came against very good teams. There’s no denying that. But getting beat by that wide a margin in your third season as head coach is something Kevin Sumlin is going to have a hard time explaining to recruits.

Kenny “Trill” Hill was even replaced in favor of true freshman Kyle Allen late in the game. As for their five-star 2015 QB pledge Kyler Murray, well, he was on a visit at Oklahoma. Where did that come from?

A&M has a cupcake game this weekend vs. Louisiana-Monroe and then finishes its regular season with a road game at Auburn and then back-to-back home games against Missouri and LSU. Tough sledding ahead for sure but the Aggies could turn the tide a little back in their favor with those final two home games.

Several of A&M’s bigger commitments are standing firm behind A&M. But the longer the Aggies struggle you wonder if there will begin to be cracks in the foundation.

While Texas would certainly love to scoop up a few A&M drifters the Longhorns are by no means desperately trying to persuade Aggies commitments their way. But they are keeping feelers out there just in case.

Should the Longhorns continue to show steady improvement, especially offensively, they should benefit more for their positive progress than A&M’s struggles. But it definitely helps.

Vance Bedford said it publicly last week that if you want to play good defense, come to Texas. If Texas can somehow land five-star Malik Jefferson and then a player like Kris Boyd (Texas recently offered his brother), then you could see the Longhorns start to win those head-to-head battles again.

But there’s still a lot of football to be played. Texas just needs to focus on itself right now.

Chip Brown’s Take

Any time there is doubt inside a program, recruits can feel that. And 59-0 probably created some doubt.

I talked to one former head coach who said, "That shouldn't happen in a coach's third year in a program. Not with the talent that's been recruited there. That seems like there is a breakdown in leadership - either player to player or coach to player."

Kevin Sumlin will undoubtedly tell recruits they can come to A&M and be the answer to the Aggies' problems. But if A&M continues to spiral, especially defensively, Sumlin may have to make a change at defensive coordinator. And that kind of change leads to major concerns about the direction of the program.

Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford finally said publicly last week what UT coaches have been telling defensive recruits for some time:

"If you want to play defense, this is the place to come."

That message will resonate louder and louder if the Texas defense continues to improve and play at a high level.

What's truly fascinating are the contrasts between what Strong and Sumlin are selling to recruits. Strong is selling core values, a degree, playing for championships and leaving college a better man. Sumlin is selling the chance to attend A&M, in the SEC, in the House Johnny Built and playing with other great players.

While A&M has the "swagcopter" and the new, Bright Football Complex with a video display over every player's locker, Texas has players and coaches sleeping in the dorms during fall camp and living on campus this school year.

When Strong was asked if he wanted a new, indoor practice facility, he told UT higher-ups the bubble UT currently has is fine.

Strong is recruiting in a social media world with an Army barracks mentality.

"Players want discipline. They really do," Strong has said frequently.

I like Sumlin. I think he's done a nice job. He can certainly recruit. But you wonder if the precedent set by the Jekyl-and-Hyde nature of Johnny Manziel - a killer on the field and a bigger-than-life party persona off the field - helped create an undisciplined culture in the A&M program.

If so, Johnny Manziel may go down as the best player in A&M football history. But will he also go down as the player who's off-the-field persona helped undermine the Sumlin Era?

Sumlin doesn't talk about Manziel publicly much anymore, always saying it's time to talk about a new team with new personalities. It seemed obvious, at times, that not even Sumlin was buying some of Manziel's stories from last year, including the dead phone at the Manning Passing Academy.

"I'm glad Johnny is here answering these questions," Sumlin said smiling at last year's SEC Media Days.

But love him or hate him, Manziel helped Sumlin earn two raises in three years, putting Sumlin in the $5 million salary club before his former boss, Bob Stoops (who has 8 conference titles, one national title and played in three other national championship games).

So it might be tricky for Sumlin to explain why Manziel tweeted during the Aggies' 59-0 drubbing, "HAHAHA Wow. Make it stop." And then later deleted it.

Does someone who truly loves their alma mater tweet "HAHAHA" during that pounding? Or is that just the shallow, selfish thinking permeating the A&M locker room right now?

An A&M fan said to me the other day, "You want to see the team getting better. And I don't think A&M has gotten better since the South Carolina game - even against scrub teams like Lamar, A&M was making bad mistakes."

That's something A&M recruits and parents are probably wondering about, too.

Jason Higdon’s Take

Texas A&M had an air of invincibility after the early blow out win over South Carolina. There was talk of Heisman trophies and running the table and more premature awards that would be handed over to the Aggies.

The Longhorns and Aggies are going head to head on more than a few recruits. Some of the names to keep an eye on are as follows:

S Justin Dunning

DT Daylon Mack

TE Jordan Davis

QB Kyler Murray

LB Malik Jefferson

CB Kendall Sheffield

CB Kris Boyd

CB Holton Hill

The Longhorns and Aggies are not the only teams fighting for the services of these players but are considered viable options for all these players. I am not suggesting Texas will land all of these players because they have others at the same position such as tight end with Will Gragg, Devonaire Clarington and Chris Clark.

Recruits are starting to see Texas improve week in and week out while Texas A&M seems to be moving the other direction, not what you would expect out of a team with a seasoned head coach.

What the recent losing streak will do is keep the Longhorns in the game. The longer they stay in the game the better chance they have of turning/landing some of these players. Take Daylon Mack for example, all you heard was Florida and Texas A&M for the five-star defensive tackle and now you are starting to see things come into question a bit. Does anyone truly believe Kyler Murray is up for going to A&M and sitting the bench behind Hill? That does not mean he ends up at Texas but the options are starting to open up a bit more for some of the recruits compared to where it was a few weeks ago.

I have said it before and I will say it again, Malik Jefferson is the key to this class. Jefferson would be to Texas (in regards to recruiting) what Tim Tebow was to Florida.

Nick Castillo’s Take


I always thought that was an odd hashtag – We Run The State. Texas A&M has definitely reaped the benefits of the SEC. While only finishing in the middle of the pack in the SEC West, the Aggies have had success recruiting.

But a few good recruiting classes and third and fourth place finishes in the SEC West doesn’t equate to running the state. I’ve made the claim that if anybody has the right to say they own the state, it’s Baylor because it’s the only D1 Texas program to win a championship in its conference in 2013.

But fast-forward to Oct. 18 and I’m not sure any school can claim it runs the state. West Virginia upset Baylor followed by Alabama curb-stomping Texas A&M and Texas improved to 3-4.

While the Longhorns have only managed to win three games this season, the Aggies three game losing streak is sure to help Texas in recruiting. There are the guys who are completely sold on Texas A&M like Daylon Mack but the Longhorns will have their shot at getting the guys who are on the fence.

Texas will still have to battle for many of its most sought-after recruits but if it can string together a winning-streak, become bowl-eligible and have the Aggies struggle then it will be in prime position to steal a few recruits and capture those on the fence.

Will it happen? Who knows? Recruits are often hard to read but one things is for sure, the Aggies are helping Texas with their current losing streak.


Longhorns 2015 QB commitment Zach Gentry's junior highlights


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