- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
With a crowd of more than 87,000 on hand, a national television crew in the house, ESPN's "College GameDay" providing buildup, and the anticipation for Texas A&M's first Southeastern Conference game, Saturday's season opener was a memorable moment for many Aggies.
It seems the same can be said for the recruits in attendance, many of whom were wowed by the scene in College Station, Texas, that day, despite A&M's 20-17 loss to Florida.
One 2014 running back was so enamored that he nearly committed to the Aggies right on the spot.
"I talked to [running backs] coach [Clarence] McKinney before the game and he was all stoked to see me," said Austin (Texas) Lake Travis running back Shaun Nixon. "He was like 'When you going to commit?' He said 'I don't even have to say anything. Just wait until the game starts.' Sure enough, the game started and right then and there, I felt like I should commit.
"But then I texted my coaches and got their opinion and everything and they said, 'You should just wait it out and see how things go.' "
While Nixon didn't pledge before leaving Aggieland, he did leave feeling good about the Aggies and his relationship with McKinney and the staff.
"That was my first [A&M] game," Nixon said. "All I can say is that the fans were crazy, the players were crazy, everyone was pumped up. That's the moment that I'll never forget. My first A&M game against Florida, and I can't wait to go back and see another one.
"I felt like putting pads on and going out there and playing against [the Gators]."
Nixon has five offers, with Baylor, Clemson, SMU and Texas Tech joining Texas A&M on the list. Is it safe to say that the Aggies have the edge after Nixon's recent visit?
"Yeah, I would say that," Nixon said. "Right now, all my schools are equal. Texas A&M, I just have a better relationship with everybody there. I've talked to them the most. I would say Clemson would come next because I've been talking to Coach [Chad] Morris a lot. I really can't rank them right now. They're all great schools."
Nixon took in Baylor's season opener against SMU and enjoyed it and said he may try to get to a Clemson game before the season is over. As for A&M, he said the Aggies have given him plenty of attention.
"You know after they offered me they kept continuing to show up and letting me know that they want me to come play," Nixon said. "I've got a bunch of letters from them. They're showing a lot of love and showing that I could be a potential starter when I get there. It's been great."
Prevot still USC solid, but listening to Aggies
Texas A&M hosted 20 of its 28 commitments in the 2013 class for the Florida game. But the Aggies also hosted some uncommitted 2013 and 2014 players and even a couple of committed players, including 2013 Houston Alief Taylor defensive end Torrodney Prevot, who is committed to USC.
"Just the whole entire game and the entire experience," Prevot said. "I was just walking and I saw A&M fans and they were like 'Oh, that's Torrodney Prevot,' and stuff like that. So that was pretty cool just to know that they know me and stuff like that and they're following me."
And the Aggies haven't given up on recruiting Prevot. While he says he's still 100 percent to USC, there's a part of him that's listening to Texas A&M.
"It feels pretty good to know that they're still recruiting me even though I'm committed with the USC Trojans," Prevot said. "It's good to see that they're not giving up. I'm pretty much sold on USC right now, but I'm listening. I'm sold, 100 percent [on USC], but then I hear the little voice just talking on my shoulder."
Prevot is being recruited by Texas A&M recruiting coordinator and running backs coach Clarence McKinney. Prevot said the new feel around the program, with the new coaching staff and offensive and defensive schemes, has his attention.
"Probably just the opportunities that are coming up," Prevot said. "They're basically just starting a new program. That's really another thing to listen to."
But Prevot said he is still keeping in regular contact with the USC coaches and still feels good about the Trojans.
"We're pretty close," Prevot said. "I've been talking to a lot of my teammates and we're all trying to get down there for the Oregon game. We're all going to be down there just chilling. I keep in contact with the coaches and stuff and we're really building a relationship, so I'm going to stick with them."
Wiggins, Hardeman enjoy trip
Wiggins and Hardeman were in College Station with Prevot taking in the Texas A&M-Florida game.
Wiggins, who has been to several Texas A&M games, said it was good to see such strong representation from the 2013 class of commitments.
"It was good to see all the commits together," Wiggins said. "We're all sitting in one area of the stadium, talking, chilling, watching the game. I hung out a little bit in the locker room afterward, so it was just good to hang around there."
He said he saw some interesting reactions from some of the uncommitted 2014 players in attendance.
"They were pretty wide-eyed," Wiggins said. "A&M had a great crowd, loud crowd, great atmosphere."
As for Hardeman, he said he's still solid to LSU but didn't want to miss the opportunity to experience the game with his teammates. He is heading to Baton Rouge, La., this weekend to watch LSU host Idaho.
"The A&M trip was real cool, I got to see the atmosphere for the first time," Hardeman said. "It's the first SEC game so that's a memory that I'll always have.
"It's part of me enjoying the experience. Right now, I'm committed to LSU. I just like to go to other places to see what they're about and just to experience it with my teammates. Wiggins is committed to A&M and Torrodney is to USC. So it's just to go with them and see the program and see what they're about and just have fun with my friends. That's all I do it for."
Texas A&M extended a new class of 2013 offer to Woodlands Hills (Calif.) Pierce College tight end Beau Sandland on Wednesday.
Sandland, who is 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, visited Oklahoma in August and will visit Mississippi this weekend. He has offers from both schools and a host of others, including Baylor, California, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Utah.
4dSam Khan Jr.
6dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough