- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
Earlier this week, when speaking about the impact the current buzz around Texas A&M's football team after its win over Alabama, head coach Kevin Sumlin uttered a handful of interesting words.
"Our phone is ringing off the hook at this point," he said.
Sumlin, in his first year as the Aggies' head coach, was referring to recruits.
"[My phone has] been blowing up, non-stop," said running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Clarence McKinney. "Guys that wouldn't return my calls before are now calling me."
No. 8 Texas A&M beat the then-No. 1 team in the country (Alabama) to improve to 8-2 last Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Players want to be part of something good and right now, what the Aggies have going is good.
Sumlin chose to take the Texas A&M job after four years at Houston for several reasons, all of which were true even before the program entered the nation's premier football conference.
"The reason I came here was the combination of Texas A&M, the tradition, the resources, the game-day atmosphere, our location," Sumlin said. "Everything's in place and moving to the SEC was the next piece."
The move to the SEC is helping the Aggies take their recruiting to another level. Texas A&M has the nation's 12th-ranked class right now and could move into the top 10 with a strong finish. They already landed a commitment from ESPN 300 safety Kameron Miles, who was committed to Tennessee. He called up the Aggies and gave his pledge Wednesday.
And the Aggies remain in the hunt for several of their top remaining 2013 targets. Among them are a handful of ESPN 150 prospects: athlete Ricky Seals-Jones, defensive tackle Justin Manning, outside linebacker Mike Mitchell and inside linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea.
Others across the country have noticed as well. Earlier this year, the Aggies received a visit from five-star cornerback Mackensie Alexander (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee). On Saturday, when the Aggies host Sam Houston State, they're expecting visits from a pair of out-of-state receiver prospects, ESPN 300 receiver Tony Stevens and Auburn pledge Ja'Quay Williams. That's not to mention four junior college prospects expected in town: Arizona Western College tight end Cameron Clear, his teammate, outside linebacker Jeff Lark, East Mississippi Community College defensive end Za'Darius Smith and City College of San Francisco offensive tackle Jeremiah Stuckey.
"Our class we have going right now is a good one, the commitments that we have," Sumlin said. "And I think we have some people that were out there that were sitting on the fence in a wait-and-see mode with some other programs saying, 'They're not going to win in the SEC. As a matter of fact, they're going to get their brains kicked in.' So I think by all intents and purposes, we've answered that question. We can handle it in this league. I think recruiting is going to reflect that."
Added McKinney: "I think it tells recruits that A&M can not only compete in the SEC but we can compete with the big dogs in the SEC. [Winning in the SEC] puts us on the same level as the Alabamas and LSUs as far as recruiting goes."
Sumlin's hope is that that momentum they have now can be maintained and carried forward.
"We've got to make some critical decisions on who we're going to take and who we're not going to take," he said. "If we can do that for the next couple or three years and increase our talent level the way I think we can, we can really be something on a national scope."
3dSam Khan and Greg Ostendorf