Friday, March 8, 2013
Recruiting notes: TAMU impresses DE Johnson
By Sam Khan Jr.
Going into last weekend, Texas A&M had a little ground to make up when it came to the race for Katy (Texas) Seven Lakes defensive end Jarrett Johnson.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound prospect already had visited Texas, but his visit to Aggieland closed the gap in the race. The Aggies made quite the impression on Johnson, enough for him to call the race "even."
And based on his comments, the Aggies have to like where they sit with Johnson. He said he thoroughly enjoyed his conversations with the Texas A&M coaching staff on his visit during the Aggies' second junior day.
"It was pretty much just fun stuff," Johnson said. "They wanted to learn who I was and [for us to] get to know each other. They were pretty funny guys, all of them. I had a good time with them, because they all knew I wanted to be there, and they wanted me there, so it was all good."
In Johnson's mind, the Aggies have a small edge when it comes to what he's looking for in education, because of A&M's engineering school and the possibility of him going into a math or science-related field.
The most impressive part of the junior day trip for Johnson? Seeing the Aggies work.
"Watching the practice," he said. "I got there about 11 [a.m.] and watched them have a little spring football practice, and they just had helmets on, but it was still impressive, seeing the physique of the athletes and all the work they put in. You can tell that they've been working out and that they're ready to win."
When it comes to the A&M coaches, Johnson said he spent a lot of time talking to his area recruiter, special teams coordinator Jeff Banks, and defensive line coach Terry Price.
"I got to know them pretty well," Johnson said. "Coach Banks is cool. He's my recruiter, was first guy [from Texas A&M] to come look at me and was the one I talked to on the phone and told me that they wanted to offer me. So he's a cool guy. Terry Price is a very funny man. He played in the NFL a couple of years and played with some good players. So I'm really excited to work with him if I get the chance to do so."
Shorter enjoys Aggieland
One player whose stock continues to rise on the recruiting front is Newton (Texas) athlete Kevin Shorter.
The 6-0, 188-pound 2014 prospect, who plays running back for Newton, has an offer from Texas A&M, among many others, and he enjoyed his trip to the Aggies' second junior day on Saturday.
"It went great," Shorter said. "We did a lot of things. Watched the football team practice, toured the campus, watched some video, talked to Coach [Kevin] Sumlin."
Shorter got a good feel for how the running backs fit into the Aggies' offense.
"[The coaches talked about] how important the running backs are to their offense," Shorter said. "How much they work out, how many times they touch the ball, how their backs come in and out of the game and how they have three or four running backs playing. Their offense, they can have two or three running backs on the field at one time."
He also enjoyed getting to know offensive coordinator and running backs coach Clarence McKinney.
"He's a great guy," Shorter said. "He's funny. He broke down the offense to us very well."
Shorter said he enjoyed the atmosphere at the Aggies' first spring practice, which included music playing from speakers of the McFerrin Athletic Center.
"It was live in there, with the music playing and all that stuff," Shorter said. "I liked it."
Shorter said there were many things that impressed him about Texas A&M.
"Getting to meet Coach [Kevin] Sumlin and watching them practice, seeing the new stadium that they're building," he said. "I liked it. I could see myself there, playing."
Shorter plans to hit LSU during spring break next week, then a trip to Oklahoma will follow later in the month.
"It's crazy," Shorter said of the recruiting process. "I'm trying not to let it all get to my head, but it's kind of hard."
Alexander calls future Kyle Field look "amazing"
Recruits get to see a lot of things on a junior day. During Texas A&M's most recent one on Saturday, recruits got a peek at the conceptual renderings of what Kyle Field could look like after extensive renovations that would take place in the coming years.
Many recruits have had positive comments about it, including River Ridge (La.) John Curtis Christian cornerback Terrence Alexander.
"They showed us how the new Kyle Field is going to look," Alexander said. "It was crazy. It's going to be amazing, pretty much. It'll be real nice."
Alexander, a 5-foot-9, 167-pound cornerback, also paid close attention to the coaching staff during the Aggies' spring practice that recruits were able to watch. He liked what he saw.
"Just seeing them practice and see how the coaches coach them," Alexander said. "That's what I think is most important. A lot of schools have nice facilities, but coaching matters. All the coaches were real cool to talk to too."
Alexander hoped for an offer and said that he might have been close to one, but the commitment of two defensive backs -- Dylan Sumner-Gardner and Armani Watts -- on the junior day changed those plans.
"When I spoke to [the coaches] they said that they wanted to offer me, and that they were going to offer me, but that they got another commitment, so they told me they have a lot of defensive backs," Alexander said. "They said they'll stay in touch. They said they're going to stay in contact and be out [to my school] for spring ball."
Alexander, who holds offers from Arkansas, Cincinnati, Kansas State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Stanford and Tennessee among others, said he's not sure what's next, but he enjoyed his trip to College Station, Texas.
"It was a real solid, good trip," Alexander said.
Aggies finally host Toran
Texas A&M has wanted to get 2014 interior lineman NaJee Toran (Houston/North Shore) down to campus for a visit, and during the Aggies' second junior day on Saturday, they finally were able to get him on campus.
Even though he had a track meet early in the day, Toran made sure to make the trip to catch at least a good portion of the junior day. Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin told Toran they were trying to get him down there upon meeting him.
"He shook my hand and told me he'd been trying to get me down here," Toran said. "They tried to get me down there for the first junior day. He's a cool dude."
Overall, Toran had positive comments about his trip.
"It went good," Toran said. "The weight room [was the most impressive part]. It was real nice. They have nice facilities."
Toran plays tackle for North Shore but is being recruited as a center by most of the FBS programs pursuing him. Going into the junior day he had offers from Boise State and TCU. On Wednesday, Toran added an offer from Oregon State.
The Aggies are interested but have not offered. They didn't offer any of the offensive linemen that were in attendance at the junior day on Saturday -- Southlake (Texas) Carroll's Evan Brown and Houston Lamar's Braaylon Hyder are also among that group -- as offensive line coach B.J. Anderson will evaluate that group in the spring. Toran is part of the group that Anderson will go watch when the evaluation period begins and could be the first of the group to receive an offer if Anderson decides to move on one of those prospects.
"He told me I'm at the top of the list recruiting-wise," Toran said. "He was a cool dude. He seemed like he was straight with you. You really don't know until you sit down with him. From what I saw right there, it seemed like he was being honest."
The impression Toran got from his visit was that A&M has a family atmosphere.
"They're going to make sure they take care of you," he said. "You're going to feel at home, like a family member."
Toran plans to take an unofficial visit to Houston soon and still wants to visit Boise State -- the first school to offer him -- but is uncertain when that trip will happen. Toran is beginning to take extra classes in hopes of graduating early to enroll at the school of his choice in January 2014.
"I go to [Houston] in a couple weeks," Toran said. "I'm supposed to go to Boise. I still don't know if I'm going up there. I'm working on graduating early, so I don't know when I'll get out then."
TCU, who offered him on a junior day trip on Feb. 23, still is the leader for Toran's services.
Texas A&M extended an offer this week to ESPN Watch List safety Steven Parker. The 2014 safety from Jenks (Okla.) High School stands 6-foot-2, 175 and also has offers from Alabama, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas among others. A flurry came in on Wednesday, as Memphis, Texas, Texas A&M and Utah all offered Parker on Wednesday, according to SoonerNation's Bob Przybylo. Parker plans to visit Texas and Texas A&M before the end of the month. ... The Aggies extended an offer to 2015 athlete George Campbell according to ESPN Southeast Recruiting Coordinator Derek Tyson. The 6-foot-3, 177-pound prospect from Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake has run a 4.44-second electronically-timed 40-yard dash and already has offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State among others. ... Orlando (Fla.) Bishop Moore quarterback Anthony Siciliano plans to take an unofficial visit to Texas A&M this summer, according to ESPN Midwest Recruiting Coordinator Jared Shanker.