Recruiting: Is A&M still a threat to UT? Barely

<B>Mack Brown</B> reiterated Monday his belief that the outcome of the UT-A&amp;M contest has little effect on recruiting. The head coach said as long as the two teams are both competitive throughout the season, a W or an L on the day after Thanksgiving won't make much of a difference in where a particular prospect lands.

That belief is bolstered as it becomes more and more evident each year that A&M is no longer a serious, across-the-board threat to the Horns in the in-state recruiting battle. With few exceptions, Brown and Co. win head-to-head vs. R.C. and his crew (even after the '99 Ag win). The Aggies are instead squaring off vs. the likes of Texas Tech, TCU, OU, LSU and Arkansas much more so than Texas for in-state kids.

A&M already has several solid recruits in its corner, including state top 10-caliber prospects Reggie McNeal and WR L'Tydrick Riley, but look for UT to extend its talent gap over A&M even further this February with signings of several of the remaining top 10-caliber players -- from among QB Vincent Young, DE Larry Dibbles, LB Aaron Harris, ATH Edorian McCullough, DT Marco Martin, OL Justin Blalock and DT Rodrique Wright, all of whom are seriously interested in the Horns while just four even list the Aggies -- while the Ags stay stuck on two.

One of those top 10 prospects who the Ags are desperate to land (but almost certainly won't) is Wright, who is scheduled to trip to College Station for an official visit this weekend. Longhorn lean Wright will be in Austin the weekend of Dec. 14 for UT's Football Banquet.

Aside from Wright, the A&M visit list for this weekend is bereft of high schoolers the Ags can try to convert from the UT cause and sway to play at A&M.

At least one Horn-Aggie recruiting battle should be entertaining to watch, specifically because UT has made up a lot of ground with a kid that was once thought to be an Aggie lock. Midland Lee TE Eric Winston still may wind up in maroon, but he hasn't ruled out donning the Orange and White (as reported by Heartland Recruiting):

"I really had a great time at Texas on the unofficial last week," (Winston) said. "I met Sloan Thomas, Chris Simms and all the rest of the guys and hung out with Cedric [Benson]. Austin is a fun place to be on Saturday night."

"I will definitely schedule an official trip there, but with the [playoff] schedule, it probably won't be until January," Winston said. "I still have A&M set for Dec. 7 and Miami on Dec. 14. Depending on the playoff situation, I may have to keep bumping the A&M trip down, but that's all I can do. I'm also thinking about a trip to LSU. They've come to one of my games and has showed real interest, so I'm going to give them a look."

"I'm still looking at Michigan and Notre Dame also." (end excerpt)

The TEs at Miami and Texas are a big part of each team's offense while the Aggies threw a whoppin' four passes to starting TE Michael de la Torre in six games before his season-ending inury (and they haven't thrown to the TE since), and that could be a factor in Winston's ultimate decision.

And perhaps Winston should consult with Leonard Davis or the Texas City guys or any number of other current or recent Horns who, despite an early Aggie infatuation, realized the error of their ways and ended up in Austin.

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