Friday, April 5, 2013
Texas A&M's 'Friday Night Lights' on tap
By Sam Khan Jr.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- In his first spring as Texas A&M's head coach, Kevin Sumlin hosted a night-time scrimmage open to Aggies fans, invited some of the top recruits in the state to come watch it, put it inside Kyle Field and dubbed it "Friday Night Lights."
Sophomore tailback Rodney Anderson will be one of several recruits at Texas A&M's Friday Night Lights event.
There were some Texas A&M commits that showed up and several recruits that eventually wound up pledging to the Aggies that night. Tonight, Sumlin and the Aggies will do it again and host the second edition of Texas A&M's "Friday Night Lights."
"I'm hoping for a great atmosphere," Sumlin said. "Last year it was a little chilly and it was the first time we unveiled it. I think people didn't know what it was. It's a different situation than the spring game. It's not a game. We're practicing, recruits are down on the field and it's a little bit of an atmosphere."
The Aggies will get plenty of live action in tonight, with Sumlin estimating that they'll run more than 100 plays in the two-hour window that begins at 8 p.m. at Kyle Field. There are several notable recruits from the Class of 2014 and the Class of 2015 expected as well.
"In a way this is a two-pronged event," Sumlin said. "No. 1, we'll go 100-something plays and scrimmage because we'll get real evaluations on people, because it's not on television and we're running our offense and defense. And No. 2, we've got some of our top [recruiting] targets that are going to be there."
Attendees of last year's event Texas A&M later scored commitments from include ESPN 150 receiver Sebastian LaRue, 2013 linebacker Reggie Chevis and 2014 ESPN Watch List prospects Cedric Collins and Nick Harvey. Sumlin expects an enjoyable atmosphere for the scrimmage.
"Our players enjoy it," he said. "It's a completely different atmosphere than a Saturday afternoon. We don't hardly get out at night in the spring and just talk to them -- they like doing it. It's a little bit stressful on the coaches because of time and everything else but our players enjoy it and I think the recruits enjoy it. Hopefully now the fans understand it and they'll enjoy it too."
A list of recruits expected to be in attendance at Texas A&M's "Friday Night Lights" scrimmage:
The ESPN Watch List receiver Foreman attended Texas A&M's junior day on March 2 and is coming off consecutive weekends at Texas, one for the Longhorns' sophomore day and the other for the Texas Relays track meet, where Foreman also took in the Longhorns' spring game. Foreman, will head to College Station soon for another trip to Texas A&M soon and as of Thursday, the plan was for the him to attend "Friday Night Lights," according to the his father, Darreck Foreman.
If their schedule doesn't allow for the trip tonight, their plan is to attend the Maroon-and-White spring game on April 13. Either way, the Foremans will venture to Aggieland since Darreck did not get to accompany Armanti on his initial trip to Texas A&M.
"I didn't get a chance to make it up there the last time to A&M," Darreck Foreman said. "I want to take him up there and look around myself.
"If I can't get up there this weekend, then we'll get up there next weekend."
The X-factor in the recruitment of the 5-11, 175-pound receiver is the fate of his twin brother 2014 running back D'Onta Foreman. Armanti wants to play college ball with D'Onta. Currently, D'Onta doesn't hold a Division I scholarship offer.
If someone jumps forward with one for D'Onta, that school would have an inside track at Armanti also. Armanti has offers from Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M.
"He's adamant about playing with his brother," Darreck Foreman said. "Schools have D'Onta's film and they're still evaluating him."
QB Harris geared for big weekend Bossier City (La.) Parkway quarterback Brandon Harris is gearing up for a busy weekend, starting with a trip to Texas A&M's "Friday Night Lights" scrimmage.
Harris, a 6-foot-1, 186-pound quarterback from the Class of 2014, recently impressed at the NUC Five Star Baton Rouge camp and will be competing in the Elite 11 event Saturday and the Nike Football Training Camp on Sunday, both in the Dallas area.
Texas A&M has shown him plenty of interest, he said.
"I've been talking to the offensive coordinator [Clarence McKinney] as well as the quarterbacks coach [Jake Spavital] and they're very high on me as a quarterback," Harris said. "Obviously they'll be down in the spring to see me compete and interacting with my teammates."
Harris has offers from several schools, including Arizona State, Arkansas, Nebraska and Tennessee. Indiana and North Carolina are the latest schools to offer Harris.
He has interest from plenty others in addition to Texas A&M, including his home-state powerhouse LSU. But just because the Tigers have showed interest doesn't mean he'll automatically give them more consideration.
"Believe it or not, we have more A&M fans on my football team than LSU fans," Harris said. "LSU, them and A&M are at the top of my list, but don't get me wrong, all the schools are equal in my opinion. All of them are. Every single school I've talked to are my favorites whether it be A&M, LSU, Baylor, even McNeese State."
2014 kicker taking in FNL Texas A&M has one scholarship kicker currently on its roster, sophomore Taylor Bertolet. In the 2013 class, they added Dallas Jesuit's Cody Wicker, who will be a preferred walk-on this fall. In the 2014 class, they're targeting a potential scholarship kicker and one of their targets is attending "Friday Night Lights:" Memphis (Tenn.) University School kicker Gary Wunderlich.
The 6-0, 180 prospect will be on the Texas A&M campus Friday and Saturday, according to Memphis University School head coach Bobby Alston.
Wunderlich holds two scholarship offers -- from Texas A&M and Virginia -- and plenty of interest from other schools, including Mississippi, Ohio State and Oklahoma.
Having been on varsity as a freshman, Wunderlich has had a stellar high school career and holds a lot of respect from his teammates, according to his coach.
"He's been a consistent kicker and this past year he was our punter as well," Alston said. "He handles both duties really well. He's had a great camp circuit and won some national competitions.
"He's a great kid and is really well-respected by his teammates. He's been selected as a captain for our team next year, which doesn't happen very often when all you do is kick. But he's a great young man."
Wunderlich is being recruited by Texas A&M special teams coordinator Jeff Banks, Alston said.
Gray a WR to keep an eye on One player that's not a "Friday Night Lights" attendee but has already visited Texas A&M recently is Marble Falls (Texas) High School receiver Garrett Gray.
The 6-4, 200-pound prospect took in a Texas A&M spring practice last month along with his head coach at Marble Falls, Todd Dodge.
Gray does not have a Texas A&M offer yet but the Aggies have shown interest in athletic receiver. Gray has eight offers currently, with the three most recent coming from California, Iowa State and Oregon State. Gray was once exclusively a basketball player before taking up football recently and last season caught 81 receptions, 1,205 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns last season.
"He's a tough kid," Dodge said. "He's only played one year of high school football but he really started developing as a route runner. He's a sub-4.5 [second 40-yard dash] guy, very explosive and a good leaper."
Dodge said Gray has interest from several in-state schools like Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech but none of those have offered yet. Gray took in a Texas practice earlier this year. Houston and Rice are the two in-state schools who have offered the dynamic receiver prospect.
"You know how the old cliché goes with upside," Dodge said. "But this kid definitely has some upside."