- Craig Haubert, ESPN Staff Writer
Texas A&M secured a commitment Friday from the Lone Star State's top prospect, defensive end Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin). Here's how Garrett, a five-star Under Armour All-American rated No. 7 in the ESPN 300, can make an impact next fall:
What he brings: Garrett is a physically gifted prospect with the tools to develop into one of college football’s premier defenders. He possesses an outstanding combination of size and athleticism that can allow him to wreak havoc as both a run defender and a pass-rusher. He has good height and bulk at this stage, with a frame that can support more good size with time in the Aggies' weight program. As a run defender, he can set the edge with the ability to fire out low, uncoil and use his size and strength to stand blockers up and hold his ground. He can also disrupt with quick penetration, and he has good lateral mobility and balance to quickly squeeze daylight and work down the line. Given his good speed, Garrett can be a threat to run down plays and be a factor in pursuit. There is still room for improvement, but he has the ability to be a disruptive force as a pass-rusher with a nice combination of length, initial quickness, power and agility. He can stress offensive tackles with his ability to quickly get upfield, dip his inside shoulder and bend the edge. He also flashes good ability to transfer speed to power. The five-star player could better use his reach and hands at times, but with work, he can develop a strong and varied pass-rush arsenal. Garrett is having a very good senior season, which illustrates his ability to be a dominant presence. Through six games, he has notched close to 50 tackles, more than 20 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, 13 hurries and three forced fumbles.
How he fits: D-line prospects with Garrett’s ability and potential are not easy to find. He is a little better suited as an end in a four-man front and should fit well in the Aggies' scheme. He can be a tough run defender and dangerous pass-rusher from the end position, but his size and athleticism can offer A&M some versatility in how it uses him. He can slide inside to try to create favorable matchups with his quickness and agility against interior offensive linemen, which he does now some at the high school level. Garrett is also athletic enough to give the Aggies the option to drop him into coverage in zone-blitz situations. If he develops into the player he is capable of becoming, Garrett not only gives A&M a great defensive player, but he will also help the entire D-line unit get stronger by drawing attention.
History at position: Texas A&M has had some success since joining the SEC in the 2012 season, particularly on offense. But developing the defense, and more specifically the defensive line, remains a key for continued success in the Aggies’ new conference. Texas A&M addressed a defensive need with the 2013 class by signing several D-linemen. It also has some good, young players up front, but continuing to strengthen that group remains an important need. Landing a player such as the five-star Garrett can be a big building block in continuing to do that. Texas A&M, since joining the SEC, has had some impact players on offense in Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews and wide receiver Mike Evans, but in its newest addition, A&M has a player with the potential to have an impact on defense.
Prediction for performance: Expectations for true freshmen, especially linemen, should be curbed, even those as talented as Garrett. But one could still expect him to quickly be a part of the Aggies' rotation. We've seen some players in the defensive trenches, led by 2013’s No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche, have success early on, and the No. 7 player in the 2014 class should be able to contribute out of the gate as well. Garrett will not be enrolling early, which could slow his ability to contribute, but with his size and athleticism, he can still begin to play a role as a freshman. Ultimately, as he develops, Texas A&M’s defense could feature one of the best D-lineman in the SEC, if not the country.
How the class is shaping up: The addition of Garrett helps push the Aggies back into the top 10, as they now sit at No. 9, and their rise helps them move into the top 5 of the SEC class rankings as well. His addition gives them three commits along the D-line, joining ESPN 300 defensive tackle DeShawn Washington (Nederland, Texas/Nederland) and defensive end Jarrett Johnson (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes), as they continue to work to strengthen the unit. The Aggies finished with a top-10 class a year ago and are in contention for another in 2014.