Friday, April 19, 2013
Recruiting notes: The Joeckel impact
By Sam Khan Jr.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Former Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel's name could be the first called when the NFL draft begins on Thursday.
If it does play out that way, it would be the latest in a long line of landmark events that have occurred since the start of last football season that have raised Texas A&M's profile and, as a result, helped the Aggies in recruiting.
Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel could be the No. 1 overall pick.
On the momentum of an impressive debut season in the SEC, beating Alabama, having individual players win the Heisman Trophy [Johnny Manziel] and the Outland Trophy [Joeckel] as well as several other factors the Aggies finished out 2013 with the No. 8 class nationally and they're off to a strong start in 2014 with college football's third-best recruiting class.
Should Joeckel go No. 1 overall in the NFL draft, it will no doubt have another positive effect on Aggies' recruiting.
"It does a ton," Texas A&M offensive line coach B.J. Anderson said. "Everybody you run into asks about Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. Those are the questions you get out there and that's good. Those offensive linemen want to come win a bunch of games in college and then go to the National Football League. It's being done here at Texas A&M and they know they can come in here and do that. So it helps us."
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said there's not one single thing helping the Aggies on the recruiting front, but the combination of all the things that have happened.
"There are a lot of things that come along with certain activities and certain awards," Sumlin said. "A lot of people have asked me about our trajectory at this point. It's not one single thing. There are a lot of factors that are helping our success right now in recruiting and marketing and a lot of things. Is it the change of how we're doing things offensively and defensively? That's part of it. [Our] change to a new league? That's part of it. Winning games in that league is a big part of it, winning national awards is a big part of it. When you win and you play in the league we play in and you compete and you can be a top 10 program. ... we talk all the time here that coaching matters but players make a difference."
TAMU visit stands out to Garrett
ESPN 150 defensive end Myles Garrett hasn't made many unofficial visits this spring because he has kept his focus on his teams -- first during basketball season and now track season, where he's competing in the discus and hopes to make the Texas state track and field championships.
The 6-5, 247-pound prospect from Arlington (Texas) Martin doesn't necessarily name a leader when asked who his top schools are, but he did acknowledge that of his visits, the trip to Texas A&M for "Friday Night Lights" stood out the most.
"Probably the A&M visit [stood out]," Garrett said. "They showed me around the campus after the Friday Night Lights game, took me to a couple houses on campus, had me hang out with the guys a little bit. It was fun."
Garrett said he got to hang out with some A&M players and that they were "real cool about hanging with recruits." He hit the town with some Aggies and enjoyed College Station, Texas. He also said quarterback Johnny Manziel was "cool." His first impression upon meeting Manziel?
"Very short," Garrett said with a laugh. "I thought he'd be taller."
Garrett also has visited TCU and Baylor within the last month and said he'll take visits to out-of-state schools this summer.
Familiar feelings for Harvey
One of the many recruits in attendance at Texas A&M's Maroon-and-White spring game on Saturday was one that the Aggies coaches are making certain to put plenty of effort into holding onto: ESPN 150 athlete Nick Harvey.
The No. 97 player in the ESPN 150, Harvey checked out Texas when his track and field team was on campus to compete in the Texas Relays track meet. Texas coaches were also at Richmond (Texas) Travis High School early this week as the spring evaluation period kicked off.
But Harvey's visit to A&M for the spring game reinforced the positive feelings about the Aggies he had when he initially committed, he said.
"Every time I go down there, it feels like home more," Harvey said. "The coaches are still on me and still trying to make sure I'm solid and they're actually trying to get me to recruit some other people."
One of those other people that Harvey has been trying to swing to the Aggies is ESPN 150 safety Jamal Adams, who is uncommitted but visited for the Maroon-and-White game also. Harvey, who knows Adams because both have played in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (Adams is at Lewisville and Harvey was formerly at Lancaster), went to Twitter to try to sell Adams on the idea of Aggieland.
"It was good seeing him," Harvey said. "I actually think we're No. 1 on his list. I don't know, but I hope we are and I'm hoping we can get him."
Schedule kept 2014 LB from spring game
One significant Texas A&M target that wasn't able to make it to College Station for the spring game was Houston North Shore linebacker Zach Whitley Jr.
Whitley wanted to go, but elected to stay back to take the ACT since Saturday was one of a handful of dates that students can take the test.
"I was supposed to go to their spring game but I had the ACT that Saturday," Whitley said. "So I wasn't able to make it, so I just stayed and watched it at home."
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound prospect did like what he saw from the Aggies while watching the Maroon-and-White game on ESPN.
"It was a good game," Whitley said. "They did a lot of good things on defense and offense. I just can't wait to see what they're looking like in the season."
Whitley is visiting Alabama for A-Day, the Crimson Tide's spring game, on Saturday. He's also getting heavy interest from Texas and he has interest in visiting several out-of-state schools this summer. He currently is planning to wait until the college football season gets underway before pinning down a decision date, saying he wants to see teams play a few games this fall first.
Sumlin makes impression on Foreman brothers
Texas City (Texas) High School 2014 receiver Armanti Foreman visited Texas A&M once before this year, taking in their March 2 junior day, but his twin brother, running back D'Onta Foreman didn't make that trip. Neither did their father, Darreck Foreman.
Former Oklahoma commit Armanti Foreman has visited Texas A&M and Texas multiple times this spring.
Both were in attendance along with Armanti at the Maroon-and-White game and took in the festivities. Since decommitting from Oklahoma, Armanti has been keeping his options open and he recently picked up offers from Baylor and Kansas State. D'Onta recently got his first offer from Illinois.
Their trip to Aggieland left positive impressions on the family, according to Darreck.
"After the scrimmage they took us to the weight room then to the locker room to meet some of the players, and we got to meet Luke Joeckel, we met Johnny [Manziel]," Darreck Foreman said. "We spoke with him and took some pictures with Johnny. It was cool. We just loved the whole thing. The whole environment was really nice. I was really impressed by Texas A&M."
The Foremans even got quality time with Sumlin while the Maroon-and-White game was going on, Darreck Foreman said.
"I just appreciate Coach Sumlin taking the time out," Darreck Foreman said. "When they were out on the field in the second half, we were actually in the office with Coach Sumlin talking to him and watching the game in his office."
The status of D'Onta might have a significant effect on Armanti's recruitment because Armanti has openly expressed a desire to play college football with his twin brother. Regardless, A&M will be a school that will get plenty of consideration from Armanti considering the style of offense and chance to play with Manziel if he's around for another year or two.
"A&M can have their pick of the litter right now," Darreck Foreman said. "They might be the hottest school in college football as far as recruiting. So the fact that Armanti has been offered and that D'Onta is getting looked at, that's huge in and of itself."
Johnson building relationships as decision looms
As Katy (Texas) Seven Lakes 2014 defensive end Jarrett Johnson mulls his decision, he has made no secret about the fact that Texas A&M is his leader.
After back-to-back visits to Aggieland for the "Friday Night Lights" scrimmage and the Maroon-and-White spring game, the Aggies moved ahead of Texas in what is essentially a two-horse race.
Johnson said his relationship with the Aggies coaches is getting better each time he visits.
"It went well [at the spring game]," Johnson said. "I've already met them all so I'm just getting to know them better. They're getting cooler and nicer each time I meet them."
When talking with defensive line coach Terry Price, Johnson said they've discussed what Price's vision for Johnson would be, though it isn't set in stone.
"Not specifically strong or weakside; just getting to the quarterback really," Johnson said. "He wants to utilize my speed, my ability to attack off the edge. I'm assuming it'd be the weakside because they have some pretty big kids coming up for the strong side."
But why? The reasons are several. Mack said he's comfortable with the coaching staff, for starters.
"They make me feel comfortable and they made me feel at home," Mack said. "I feel like I can be myself when I talk to them."
Mack visited for the Aggies' first junior day in January and was only one of two sophomores there that day. He returned for the Maroon-and-White game on Saturday. The crowd was something else that impressed him.
"It was amazing," Mack said. "Their fans, I feel like they have the best fans. I know they feel like that, but there were a whole lot more people there than there were at the Texas spring game. They had their whole bottom row filled."
Interestingly, Mack wasn't a Texas A&M fan growing up.
"I grew up being a Texas Longhorns fan but obviously they aren't the Longhorns that they were back in the day," Mack said.
But the Aggies being the first team to offer him has meant a lot in this process.
"That meant a lot to me," Mack said. "They offered me really early, like in the middle of my sophomore season."