Posted on: January 19, 2012 12:39 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 12:41 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Texas A&M has not been a regular occurrence in the top 10 team rankings after Signing Day but the school has still done fairly well all on the recruiting trail all things considered. The Aggies are currently 11th in the Maxpreps team rankings and have a good shot to move up and be yet another SEC team within striking distance of the top spot with their class of 2012. New head coach Kevin Sumlin has been on a whirlwind, non-stop march to grab some of the best and brightest in the state of Texas since taking over the program last month and hopes to bring a little more consistency to A&M's recruiting efforts over the coming months and years.
Although most of the leg work for this year's class was done by Mike Sherman and the previous staff, Sumlin has kept things together remarkably well and is even adding a few new recruits here and there. He sat down with CBSSports.com for a wide-ranging Q&A.to discuss his recruiting strategy, how he plans to transition the school to the SEC and why his familiarity with players from being at Houston is an advantage.
CBSSports.com: You're bringing Kliff Kingsbury with you as offensive coordinator, what kind of coach and recruiter is he and how much of an advantage is it to have a guy a lot of recruits grew up seeing play?
Sumlin: "Kliff has been around us for the last four years at Houston. He's done a great job with the quarterbacks, not just Case Keenum but the others. I think we were 13th in the country (in passing) two years ago with a true freshman, 4th string quarterback. He's a great mind and a great player and the kids bond with him.
"It doesn't hurt (in recruiting). There are a lot of kids who know who he is, a lot of parents in the state of Texas who know who he is and remember him for what he accomplished (at Texas Tech). So it doesn't hurt us at all in recruiting, particularly among quarterbacks."
Have you been able to figure out what you have to work with at A&M already and how do you see the transition going?
"Winning helps in recruiting. What you want to do is, and what we've done wherever we've been, is utilize the talent that is there and recruit more. We didn't have some big fullbacks at Houston, we had a couple of midgets who were fast. Your job is to win games.
"Some people will look at it as, 'Well, you're losing your quarterback, losing receivers, losing running backs.' But sometimes when you have a young quarterback it's better because you're not having to break somebody down. We've got a freshman that's coming in January (Matt Davis), Johnny Manziel is a redshirt freshman and Jameil Showers is a sophomore. That's three young guys coming into the spring competing. We tried to recruit those guys at Houston too."
How big is it that you know a lot of the roster from recruiting them at Houston?
"We did try to recruit a lot of those guys at Houston so obviously we thought highly of them as prospects. It's going to be fun. Those kids look at is as being fun and they're comfortable with us because they know us."
What's the reception been like in general?
"It's been great. The biggest question I think was what was going to happen to recruiting. For about two weeks, we really just held it together until the Dead Period. We'll have another huge recruiting weekend coming up, the next two weekends will be critical. For the better part of a month, I've been recruiting players and coaches. Coaches are a heck of a lot harder."
Did you make it a point to look for coaches with SEC experience?
"Somebody said that to me, that you have to have coaches with SEC experience. I look at it this way, I've seen it and I know what it looks like. I've coached in two national championship games and every BCS bowl game there is. There's nothing higher than that in college football. We beat Mississippi State in Starkville a couple of years ago with a little bitty team. We'll be alright."
Do you expect some growing pains with the staff transition and the move to a new league?
"There's always growing pains. People forget that at Houston, we started out 1-3. I like the fact that people have forgotten about that. But it gets to a point where the players have a feel for you and you have a feel for them and then you can feel comfortable and handle adversity. I think I'm a better coach now then I was then.
"It helped me to be able out to practice and get a feel for personnel. It helped to go clean up the recruiting board because here are the numbers but here's where we're deficient maybe talent-wise. We've adjusted some of the numbers in recruiting because of that."
A lot of people have questioned the move to the SEC, is there any worry in regards to the level of competition?
"Why isn't it a positive? What's bad about it? You're playing in the best division in the best league in the country. I knew that before I took the job. It's not something they sprung on me. I look forward to it.
"It hasn't hurt (recruiting). We walk around with (SEC logos) on shirts and stuff like that and it hasn't hurt recruiting at all. There are certain kids that just like to compete against what they think is the best league and the best players and be a part of that. Sure it's going to take some work but it also is an opportunity, it gives you a clear choice in the state of Texas right now. It really gives you a division of schools, not just the universities but leagues. You've got the Big East, the Big 12 and the SEC and I think kids pay attention to that."
Of the six straight BCS titles, four teams have won them. Does that parity, if you can call it that, lend encouragement that you can play at a high level in the league?
"If I were to tell you, just five years ago, that Florida or Tennessee were not in the SEC Championship Game and you're talking about South Carolina and Georgia, that's just how much the league has changed. Five, six years ago, the argument was the East was the dominate side. When you look back at it, it's gone back and forth. It's hard to say Tennessee and Florida won't be back. South Carolina was in the game last year for the first time and won 10 or 11 this year. There's been some shifts in power over the last 10, 15 years. From that stand point, you've got to feel good. We're not coming into the league with a short stick, we've got resources. I think we've got a talent pool in the state of Texas and, to a certain extent, Louisiana, that we can draw on and help us and sustain us. So you've got to be encouraged.
Does it help that you coached at A&M before and know the lay of the land there?
"It does. It's a unique place and it has a lot of tradition. A university where, from the outside, you might not understand it but it such a unique environment. I think when we travel and play in some of the venues in the SEC, there may be some people who may be a little shocked when they walk into (Kyle Field) the first time. It is a great place to play, passionate fans, students that stand the whole game. I've come out of both locker rooms there and sometimes you can't even hear anything. As a player and coach, that's the kind of environment you look for. I think that's why we'll be a good fit in the SEC."
Do you worry about other SEC schools invading and recruiting Texas?
"No, I don't worry about that. They came to Houston before this. It's just part of it and it's not going to change."
Did your last game at Houston and the way you went out stick with you a bit?
"It gets under my skin a little bit. I did a poor job. Anytime you play like that, it gets back to you as a coach. Nobody played well, nobody coached well. It was just a poor performance. We've learned from everything. Positives, negatives, handling adversity, that's what you do. Every time, win or lose, we go back and evaluate ourselves and we evaluate ourselves just as much in a win as a loss. You can't take anything for granted and it's damn hard to win every game. We got close but it's hard to do."
Posted on: March 4, 2011 1:21 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 1:23 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
There may be more people discussing Texas recruiting around the country but their main rival Texas A&M has quietly been burning up the recruiting trail with the class of 2012. The Aggies picked up their nation-leading 16th commitment Thursday night in San Antonio (Texas) quarterback Trevor Knight.
“It's a gut feeling,” Knight told the San Antonio Express-News. “I've been up there three times, and I just saw myself in College Station for four or five years.”
The 6-foot-2, 190 pound quarterback is a threat running or passing, racking up over 2,200 all-purpose yards and 23 total touchdowns as a junior at Ronald Reagan High. Although he grew up a Longhorns fan, Texas has not offered a scholarship and has already snapped up their quarterback for the class in Connor Brewer.
Knight chose A&M over offers from Texas Tech and TCU.
“At all three places I would have been happy," Knight told Gigem247.com. "But Texas A&M was the gut feeling."
This would be the third year in a row where head coach Mike Sherman was able to get one of the top in-state dual threat quarterbacks. Kerrville (Texas) gunslinger Johnny Manziel signed with the Aggies in February as part of the class of 2011.
Posted on: February 19, 2011 4:42 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
We're still digesting the class of 2011 and what better way to look at it than through the lens of two rivals. Texas and Texas A&M have been going at each other on the recruiting trail for decades and the regular season each team had in 2010 certainly added a bit of intrigue to each class. Despite the down year for the Longhorns, Mack Brown still managed to bring a lot of talent to Austin for next season.
Tags: Ben Compton, Big 12, Brandon Alexander, Bryan Harsin, Cedric Reed, Chance Nelson, Chet Moss, Christian Westerman, Darzil Washington, David Ash, Deshazor Everett, Desmond Jackson, Devonta Burns, Donnie Baggs, Drew Kaser, Floyd Raven, Garrett Greenlea, Howard Matthews, Jaxon Shipley, Johnny Manziel, Johntel Franklin, Joseph Cheek, Josh Cochran, Josh Turner, Kendall Thompson, LeMarc Strahan, Leroy Scott, Mack Brown, Malcolm Brown, Marcus Hutchins, Mike Evans, Mike Sherman, Miles Onyegbule, Mykkele Thompson, Nathan Gutekunst, Quandre Diggs, Quincy Russell, Sedrick Flowers, Shaun ward, Shayvion Hatten, Sheroid Evans, Steve Edmond, Steve Jenkins, Taylor Bertolet, Taylor Doyle, Texas, Texas A&M, Tyrell Taylor, Will Randolph
Posted on: January 29, 2011 5:44 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Biggest need: Defensive linemen. Baylor has struggled over the years to get a decent pass rush and the Bears lose their best defensive tackle in Phillip Taylor to the NFL Draft. Getting quality and quantity at this position will be key to continue the momentum from their first bowl season in over a decade.
Best verbal commit: Offensive lineman Spencer Drango.
Hope to get: Running back Jermichael Selders.
Biggest need: Receiver. Iowa State loses their two leading scorers in the passing game and saw Sedrick Johnson transfer. There’s playing time available right away but the Cyclones need someone to break out and not just fill out the depth chart.
Best verbal commit: Running back Devondrick Nealy.
Hope to get: Wide receiver Cedric Gilbert.
Biggest need: Defensive line. The Jayhawks lose three of the four starters off of the line and will need to bring in some players to bolster a unit that was 105th in the country in sacks and 107th in rush defense.
Best verbal commit: Athlete Anthony Pierson.
Hope to get: Defensive tackle Terry Redden.
Biggest need: Offensive line. All three interior linemen are gone from a unit that paved the way for running back Daniel Thomas. While head coach Bill Snyder will typically get some help from the junior college ranks, the Wildcats need some bodies to build around on the O-line.
Best verbal commit: Defensive end Meshak Williams.
Hope to get: Defensive tackle Kevin McReynolds.
Biggest need: Defensive line. Missouri has been hit by graduation and impact player Aldon Smith leaving for the NFL. Finding players who can play right away will be key if they are to re-tool on defense.
Best verbal commit: Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
Hope to get: Defensive tackle Christopher Cormier.
Biggest need: Secondary. Two starters have graduated and their two replacements should both be upper classmen. The fact that they play in a pass-happy league also means it’s never a bad thing to have several defensive backs.
Best verbal commit: Running back Brandon Williams.
Hope to get: Class is pretty much set for 2011.
Biggest need: Linemen. Three starters depart from the defensive line and there will be four seniors on the offensive line. The Cowboys are looking for depth as much as they are players who can compete early.
Best verbal commit: Running back Herschel Sims.
Hope to get: Defensive end Brandon Alexander.
Biggest need: Secondary. Aaron Williams, as expected, left early for the NFL draft and the departures of several seniors leave this group thin. If they’re going to compete against some prolific offenses, Texas needs to grab a few players who can play immediately.
Best verbal commit: Running back Malcolm Brown.
Hope to get: Defensive end Brandon Alexander.
Biggest need: Linebacker. The loss of Von Miller and Michael Hodges are huge for a defense that was starting to turn the corner under defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter. In the 3-4 scheme, the Aggies need depth as well as playmakers.
Best verbal commit: Quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Hope to get: Linebacker and soft verbal commit Shaun Ward.
Biggest need: Receiver. All-everything receiver Lyle Leong is gone and the depth at the position looks thin after 2011.
Best verbal commit: Running back Kenny Williams.
Hope to get: Cornerback Marcus Roberson.
Tags: Anthony Pierson, Baylor, Big 12, Bill Snyder, Brandon Alexander, Brandon Williams, Cedric Gilbert, Christopher Cormier, Devondrick Nealy, Herschel Sims, Iowa State, Jermichael Selders, Johnny Manziel, Kansas, Kansas State, Kenny Williams, Kevin McReynolds, Malcolm Brown, Marcus Roberson, Meshak Williams, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Shaun Ward, Sheldon Richardson, Spencer Drango, Terry Redden, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tim DeRuyter