Monday, December 10, 2012
Surge continues for A&M with Seals-Jones
By Sam Khan Jr.
Ricky Seals-Jones is No. 13 in the ESPN 150 and is ranked as the No. 1 athlete.
SEALY, Texas -- Life has been pretty good for Texas A&M lately.
The Aggies concluded a 10-2 regular season, their first in the Southeastern Conference, on Nov. 24 and finished the regular season ranked in the top 10. They earned a berth in the AT&T Cotton Bowl to play Oklahoma. Since the season ended, they scored commitments from the state's No. 1 defensive tackle (Justin Manning), a standout prep school receiver (Ja'Quay Williams), a junior college tight end (Cameron Clear) and two 2014 ESPN Watch List prospects (Nick Harvey and Shaun Nixon).
Texas A&M now has 34 commitments in its class, but this one is arguably the most important. Are there other need positions besides receiver, where Seals-Jones will likely play? Sure. Would the Aggies be in trouble had they not closed on Seals-Jones? Probably not. There are four other receiver commits, plus a tight end and two athletes that will also probably become receivers at Texas A&M, meaning there's seven potential receivers in the class.
It's what Seals-Jones' commitment signifies that makes it such an important score for the Aggies. This is the No. 1 player in the state of Texas. The No. 1 athlete in the nation. Since ESPN began ranking recruits in 2006, the Aggies haven't scored the state's top player. That's been a spot reserved for Texas or an out-of-state power. The last time the Aggies landed a player ranked No. 1 in the state by any recruiting site was 2005, when they landed Houston Alief Taylor High School tight end Martellus Bennett.
It might be too early to say there's a changing of the guard in who runs the state, but this could be the beginning of that process. If the Aggies can sustain long-term success in the SEC and Texas doesn't improve on what it has done the last three years on the field, the possibilities seem endless for Texas A&M.
At this moment, Texas A&M has commitments from the top-ranked player in the state at six different positions: Tight end [Derrick Griffin], quarterback [Kohl Stewart], offensive guard [Joas Aguilar], defensive tackle [Manning], safety [Kameron Miles] and now athlete [Seals-Jones].
Seals-Jones was initially committed to Texas in February but decommitted in June. From that point, the race was on. Even when Seals-Jones considered the Longhorns No. 1 in his heart, the Aggies and recruiting coordinator Clarence McKinney never relented.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin made a major statement when he and McKinney showed up to Sealy's Sept. 6 showdown with Houston St. Pius X in a maroon helicopter. While the pair were also there to see Stewart, an A&M quarterback commit, they were also letting Seals-Jones know how much they wanted him. It was their way of saying he was a top priority, perhaps the top priority.
The fact that Texas dropped out of the race for Seals-Jones less than a week later only helped the Aggies' stance. He whittled his list to Texas A&M and LSU after that and the race was on.
The commitment is also a sign of the recruiting talent Sumlin has on his staff. He wanted to make sure his entire staff could recruit, and the staff has a strong presence in two priority areas, the Houston area and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, with McKinney and receivers coach David Beaty, respectively. Both have hauled in a lot of talent from their respective areas and carry a lot of respect as former high school coaches in their territories.
The staff's diligence and persistence paid off in landing Seals-Jones. It also doesn't hurt that the Aggies performed so well offensively, ranking third in the nation in total offense and scoring offense with the Heisman winner and perhaps the nation's most exciting player in Manziel. No doubt the chance to catch passes from No. 2 is something Seals-Jones has thought quite a bit about.
And the thought of a someone with the size (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) and speed of Seals-Jones running routes in Kliff Kingsbury's offense is undoubtedly something Aggies fans have been dreaming of since Texas A&M became a serious contender for his services.