Tuesday, January 15, 2013
A&M success boosting in-state recruiting
By Sam Khan Jr.
Texas A&M, the Southeastern Conference and Kevin Sumlin have made for a dangerous combination when it comes to recruiting.
Sprinkle in an 11-2 season and the Heisman Trophy winner (not to mention an unparalleled game-day atmosphere and quality facilities, both of which were already in place) and you have a package seemingly as attractive as any in the country.
Kevin Sumlin has transformed Texas A&M, and recruits in and outside of Texas are taking notice.
This is where the Aggies are after an unforgettable and in some ways unbelievable 2012.
As a head coach, Sumlin has hired some dynamic recruiters on his staff, including receivers coach David Beaty, who has led the charge in Dallas-Fort Worth, and co-offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney, who has led the way in the Greater Houston area. The Aggies have also expanded their reach nationally, going into states such as Florida, California, Georgia and even Hawaii to score players.
When it comes to the state of Texas, the Aggies have seen the effects of their success pay off in the form of commitments. They have 34 currently, including five of the top 15 in the state. That's more than Texas, which has four of the top 15.
Before this year, that number was traditionally skewed in Texas' favor. The Longhorns scored eight of the top 15 prospects in the 2012 class to Texas A&M's two. In 2011, it was 5-0 Texas.
Longtime recruiting consultant and former college assistant coach Randy Rodgers, who has been an institution when it comes to recruiting in the Lone Star State and has been the recruiting coordinator at Texas and Illinois, has also seen the effect the Aggies' success has had.
"Everybody said 'Oh they're going to go in there and get killed in their first year,'" Rodgers said. "They far exceeded the expectation level."
Rodgers serves as a consultant for dozens of Division I schools around the country and he said the buzz about Texas A&M is evident.
That can be seen in the Aggies' efforts in the 2014 class. Texas A&M already has six commitments in the class and three of them had both Texas and Oklahoma offers. All of them are from within Texas. A fourth, ESPN Watch List cornerback Cedric Collins, had an Oklahoma offer and Texas interest.
And the Aggies show no signs of slowing down when it comes to the battle for top 2014 talent.
Sumlin hasn't been shy about stating what his program has to offer and its appeal to recruits in Texas -- and nationally. He said as much prior to the Aggies' blowout of Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
"I think there is a clear choice in this region," he said.
High school coaches have noticed, as well.
"They're the hottest thing going on right now in recruiting," Cedar Hill (Texas) High School coach Joey McGuire said.
McGuire knows plenty about recruiting. With his school sitting in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, a hotbed for recruiting, he has seen multiple players go to FBS schools from his program annually. He has had players sign with Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and countless others over the years.
In his metropolitan area alone, McGuire has seen the Aggies' recruiting footprint increase to where they are now a bona fide force, going head-to-head for recruits with perennial powers like Texas and Oklahoma. The Aggies are winning a lot of battles these days and it's for several reasons.
"It's a mixture of all those things," McGuire said. "Sumlin and his offense, he's a dynamic coach. The SEC has so much pull. And then winning. It's like the old adage: Winning takes care of everything."