Texas A&M Aggies: Braden Smith

Recruiting hits and misses: SEC West

February, 6, 2014
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Now that the fax machines are quiet, the 2014 signing classes have been announced and before we start looking ahead to 2015, let's take a moment to examine how each of the SEC schools did in filling immediate needs via recruiting.

We're checking out what all 14 teams did to fill holes, and we're looking at which holes still remain. We'll start with the SEC West (click here for the SEC East):

ALABAMA

Needs filled: It was obvious Alabama needed help at cornerback, and the Crimson Tide went out and got two of the best in the country in five-star prospects Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey. Pass rushers were also a priority, which makes five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and four-star outside linebackers Rashaan Evans and Christian Miller key pickups. Cameron Robinson, yet another five-star prospect, could end up starting at left tackle next season on the offensive line.

Holes remaining: The Crimson Tide could have used another marquee receiver and lost out on No. 1 wideout Malachi Dupre to LSU. With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri both heading early to the NFL, the Tide also might have come up short at safety.

ARKANSAS

Needs filled: The Hogs’ passing game was in need of a jump-start, and getting an ESPN 300 player out of Miami the caliber of JoJo Robinson adds another playmaker to the equation. Arkansas’ offensive line class is equally impressive with four-star prospects Brian Wallace and Frank Ragnow and three-star prospect Jovan Pruitt joining Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper from last year’s class.

Holes remaining: The highest-ranked player in the Hogs’ class was defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson of El Dorado, Ark., which was big considering they need help everywhere on defense. But they missed out on a pair of highly ranked defensive ends in Solomon Thomas and Demetrius Jackson.

AUBURN

Needs filled: Gus Malzahn called ESPN 300 prospect Tre' Williams the key to the class, and he should provide an immediate boost at linebacker. With Chris Davis departing, the Tigers also needed to replenish at cornerback, which is where four-star prospects Kalvaraz Bessent and Stephen Roberts come in. Both were ranked in the top 10 nationally at their position. With Greg Robinson leaving early for the NFL draft, it was good to add muscle on the offensive line with ESPN 300 prospect Braden Smith, who could play guard or tackle.

Holes remaining: The sting of losing Evans, who’s from Auburn, to Alabama could be felt for a while. He's the kind of explosive athlete who would fit on any defense, and the Tigers need more of those guys, particularly at linebacker.

LSU

Needs filled: The loss of running back Jeremy Hill early to the NFL draft was lessened by landing Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 overall prospect in this class. It only got better for the Tigers’ offense on signing day when the country’s No. 1 receiver, Dupre, said he would play his college football on the Bayou. Safety was a real sore spot on defense last season, so getting ESPN 300 prospect Jamal Adams was a major pickup. Adams is rated by ESPN RecruitingNation as the No. 2 safety in the 2014 class.

Holes remaining: Robinson would have been a nice centerpiece on that LSU offensive line, but Alabama came into West Monroe, La., and swiped the five-star prospect. The Tigers also lost five-star athlete Speedy Noil of New Orleans to Texas A&M.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Needs filled: Junior college signee Jocquell Johnson is already on campus and will battle for a starting job next season on an offensive line that’s losing two starters, including All-SEC guard Gabe Jackson. The Bulldogs also added a pair of playmakers at receiver in ESPN 300 prospects Jamoral Graham and Jesse Jackson. Flipping 6-foot-6, 265-pound defensive lineman Cory Thomas from Tennessee on signing day added some more punch to an already deep and talented defensive line in Starkville.

Holes remaining: More secondary help would have been nice, which is why losing cornerback Tee Shepard to Ole Miss on signing day was a downer. A couple of the offensive linemen the Bulldogs wanted, Jordan Sims and Sean Rawlings, also opted for Ole Miss.

OLE MISS

Needs filled: The Rebels wanted to continue to stockpile talent on the offensive line after reeling in Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson a year ago and did that with four-star prospects Rod Taylor, Tyler Putman and Sims. Upgrading the defense was also a priority, which is why beating Alabama for ESPN 300 safety C.J. Hampton was so important along with getting ESPN 300 defensive end Garrald McDowell out of Louisiana. Flipping junior college cornerback Shepard from Mississippi State was a nice signing day coup.

Holes remaining: You can never have enough defensive linemen in the SEC, so losing defensive tackle Michael Sawyers to Tennessee was a blow. The same goes for ESPN 300 defensive end Davon Godchaux, who stuck with his commitment and signed with LSU.

TEXAS A&M

Needs filled: With Johnny Manziel taking his show to the NFL, Texas A&M has to find a quarterback. Early enrollee Kyle Allen is an ESPN 300 prospect and ranked as the No. 1 pocket passer in this class. Noil, another early enrollee, should help fill a void with big-play receiver Mike Evans headed to the NFL, and the Aggies also loaded up on offensive linemen, including a pair of junior college signees. Any help on defense was a priority, which makes five-star defensive end Myles Garrett one of the keys to the class.

Holes remaining: The Aggies are still thin at safety after swinging and missing on several of their top targets in this class, including Adams, Steven Parker II and Mattrell McGraw. They also had ESPN 300 safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner committed but lost him to Boise State when Marcel Yates took the defensive coordinator job there.

Key recruiting visits -- SEC 

January, 31, 2014
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The last official visit weekend is here. While the majority of prospects have committed and are set for national signing day, there are still several uncommitted ESPN 300 prospects for whom SEC programs are battling down to the wire.

Here is a look at 10 key visits this weekend. Numbers indicate ranking in the ESPN 300.

Key recruiting visits -- SEC 

January, 24, 2014
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The Class of 2014 is down to two official visit weekends remaining. As expected, there are several official visits that potentially impact the SEC this weekend, including visits by some of the top national prospects on the board.


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Key recruiting visits -- SEC 

January, 17, 2014
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The dead period is in the rearview mirror, coaches are back on the road and the last three official visit weekends are set to begin. That means the rush to national signing day is upon us, and the scratching and clawing to close with a bang begins on Friday.

As expected, nearly every SEC program is hosting key visitors with both committed and uncommitted prospects remaining in play. Here's a look at some of the top recruits who are taking visits this weekend:

1. No. 14 prospect Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross): One of the three uncommitted five-star prospects, the recruitment of Carter is down to LSU, Florida, Florida State and Georgia, with the Tigers getting an official visit this weekend. Trips to Florida State on Jan. 24 and Georgia on Jan. 31 remain on the schedule.


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SEC class rankings analysis 

January, 15, 2014
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Another week of the RecruitingNation class rankings, another week with SEC schools dominating the rankings. Thirteen of 14 SEC programs claim spots in the top 40, with only Vanderbilt having slipped out this week following James Franklin leaving the Commodores for Penn State. As has been the case most of this cycle, Alabama is holding down the No. 1 spot nationally. The SEC also has four of the top five classes nationally and seven in the top 10.

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As expected, Day 2 at the Under Armour All-America practices were smoother, more concise and much more productive. The players are now starting to think less and play more. Natural ability is starting to come to the forefront, which allows for them to be more productive. There have been fewer dropped passes, fewer misses by the QBs and the offensive lines are starting to jell quicker than expected. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group is there have not been any true letdowns. They have stepped up and been as advertised almost top to bottom for both squads. Let’s hit the highlights of the day:

Top performers

WR Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish): Sims might not wow anyone with his 40-yard dash time, but it may not matter. Sims is so similar to Mike Evans at Texas A&M. He just makes plays. He has extremely long arms and is outstanding when in contested matchups. The ball will look like it is uncatchable and then next thing you know he jumps out of nowhere, extends and makes a play and the defender is left scratching his head. When it comes down to it, the QBs for Team Highlight can trust that if they need to throw it up, Sims will make a play. The most basic thing about the position is catching the football and Sims has no problem doing that.


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Critical positions in SEC recruiting 

September, 3, 2013
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Each year college coaches prioritize their recruiting needs. Whether it's offensive or defensive linemen or skilled positions, there always seems to be an area that needs more attention than others. Here's a closer look at the most important position for each SEC team in recruiting this year.


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The spotlight rarely shines on the big guys in the heart of the offensive trenches, but guards and centers play a key role in the success of an offense. The 2014 class offers a talentedand fairly deep group of interior offensive linemen and the most recent release of the updated ESPN 300 saw several move up in the rankings.

Offensive guard prospects like USC commit Toa Lobendahn and Florida State commit Corey Martinez were among those who made sizeable moves up in the latest rankings release. Center and Alabama commit J.C. Hassenauer moved into the 300.

Four of the top five OG prospects are already off the board, as well as nine of the top 10 centers. But if your team is still looking for talent, here are five to keep an eye on:


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Summer recruit wrap: Texas A&M 

July, 23, 2013
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Texas A&M's final one-day camp of the year wrapped up on Sunday and the start of fall practice is fewer than two weeks away for the Aggies. The summer has been a busy one on many fronts, but here's a look at five things we learned on the recruiting front about Texas A&M this summer:

1. The Aggies got their quarterback


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Texas A&M has 14 commits in the 2014 class, and the Aggies have done a good job of addressing needs at multiple positions. With seven months left until signing day, they are still pursuing plenty of players. Here's five positions where they could use another player or two in the class:

Defensive end: The Aggies are pursuing multiple defensive ends in the 2014 class and at the top of their want list is ESPN 300 defensive end Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin), the No. 1 prospect in Texas. They also have an offer out to ESPN 300 prospects Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) among others.

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ESPN 300 targets: Texas A&M 

June, 18, 2013
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Texas A&M has nine commits in the ESPN 300, which was released on Monday. Here's a look at the Aggies' top 10 targets in order of the Aggies' chances of landing the prospects:

1. DE Myles Garrett
6-foot-5, 247 pounds
ESPN 300 Rank: 6

Why they want him: Take one glance at Garrett, and it becomes clear why so many schools want him. He's in tremendous physical condition and is a good athlete to boot. He's a weight-room warrior with huge upside.


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ESPN 150 OG Smith focused on season 

June, 13, 2013
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While many top college prospects are traveling across the country to take unofficial visits, attend camps and find ways to visit schools that they're interested in, ESPN 150 offensive guard Braden Smith (Olathe, Kan./Olathe South) is taking a different approach, according to his head coach.

The 6-foot-6, 285-pound prospect, who is No. 118 in the ESPN 150, is focusing on offseason workouts and not recruiting currently.


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Tales from the Road: Texas A&M 

May, 29, 2013
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Every Wednesday, Sam Khan Jr. will take a quick-hit look at some of the top recruits and storylines facing Texas A&M recruiting for the week.


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ESPN 150 targets: Texas A&M 

April, 18, 2013
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Myles GarrettWilliam Wilkerson/ESPN.comESPN 150 defensive end Myles Garrett is feeling strong, as his offer list is a who's who of elite Division I football programs.
Texas A&M has three commits in the 2014 ESPN 150, which was released today. Here's a look at the Aggies' top 10 targets in the ESPN 150, listed from highest to lowest ranked:

1. CB Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra)
5-foot-11, 183 pounds
ESPN 150 Rank: 5

Why they want him: Speed and athleticism. Jackson has most of what coaches want in a cornerback. His fluid hips, foot quickness and natural athleticism make him an elite prospect. Could wind up on the offensive side of the ball and said some schools are recruiting him as a receiver.

Who else wants him: Plenty of power programs have offered Jackson, including Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon and USC.

Odds they get him: Jackson said he intends to visit Texas A&M this summer, so the Aggies will have their chance to impress the five-star prospect. USC and UCLA are also schools that the Illinois native is interested in but Aggies' secondary coach Marcel Yates has experience recruiting the West Coast from his days at Boise State and landed 2013 ESPN 150 receiver Sebastian LaRue for the Aggies earlier this year.


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Q&A: Coach of Watch List OT Smith 

February, 28, 2013
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Oklahoma has been in hot pursuit of offensive tackle Braden Smith (Olathe, Kan./Olathe South) since his sophomore season. Olathe South head coach Jeff Gourley talked with SoonerNation about Smith's approach to the recruiting process, who's recruiting him the hardest and what makes him unique.

SN: How's he been handling the process thus far?


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