Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:59 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Texas A&M is one of the major programs on a roll early in the recruiting process and kept up the momentum from a big weekend with a commitment from Dallas (Texas) offensive tackle J.J. Gustafson on Monday.
"I've been going to A&M games since I was one or two years old," Gustafson told Rivals. "I've always loved the atmosphere at Kyle Field. I've been to camps there too. I liked the coaching staff. I enjoy College Station too."
The 6-foot-6, 275-pound tackle held offers from schools such as Arkansas, Oklahoma, Stanford and Texas Tech. Gustafson was considered an A&M lean for most of the recruiting process with several family members having attended the school but waited to see what new coach Kevin Sumlin brought to the table before committing.
"I really like the A&M staff," Gustafson said. "I am getting a feel of the team and staff and where the depth chart is. I am discovering the A&M philosophy going forward and how they see their season is shaping up."
The pledge gives Texas A&M seven commitments in the past three days and give the program 12 total for the class of 2013. Gustafson is the second offensive lineman of the bunch.
Photo by Lonnie Erickson
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: July 16, 2011 11:53 pm
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Bryson Echols just couldn't help himself.
Minutes after winning the Texas state Division I 7-on-7 championship, the longtime Texas commitment threw up the 'Hook 'em' sign at Texas A&M's Kyle Field with a very large grin on his face.
"It's very good," Echols said. "I know what they're missing out on.
"It's even better that we won at A&M."
Echols' fellow DeSoto (Texas) teammates were just as happy after the team ran through the competition at one of the biggest events in the state undefeated and in the process, accomplished one of their many team goals.
"It's exciting, we worked hard all summer for this," fellow corner Jalen Mills said. "Now we've got to go out and win the real state championship."
The Eagles were one of the most athletic teams at the event and used their quickness and speed to blow through the rest of the field in impressive fashion. It meant a little bit more to many members of the team after they fell just short of grabbing a medal last year.
"It's special because last year I thought we were going to win it for sure," Echols said. "This year I had a few doubts but we won and that's all that matters."
"It's a rush because you're playing against the best athletes in the state of Texas," Mills added. "You have to bring it every game."
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Echols played well for the second consecutive week after participating in Nike all-star event The Opening in Oregon. While there were not a ton of prospects for him to recruit for the Longhorns at the state tourney, he has been active for the school for several others.
"At The Opening, I was whispering in everybody's ear," he said. "There was the safety, Landon Collins, him. And a running back, he's a sophomore, (Altee) Tenpenny."
Echols is one of two players from DeSoto headed to Austin next fall and one of several FBS-level recruits on a loaded team primed for a run at state later this year. Mills is one of the few uncommitted players on the team and has seen his recruitment pick up following a good summer at 7-on-7 tournaments.
"I have offers from Pitt, Virginia, Baylor, Houston, Tulsa, UTEP, Louisiana Tech, Memphis and a couple of others," he said. "Coach Norwood at Baylor and Coach Henson at Virginia are coming after me the hardest. And Coach Norvell at Pitt."
Mills says he'll head to Florida State next week and that defensive coordinator Mark Stoops is recruiting him and may offer him soon if he performs well at the Seminoles camp next Tuesday. An offer from the school will certainly change things but at the moment he remains wide open and really only has two schools he knows will make his short list.
"I know I want to visit Virginia and Pitt, those two colleges for sure," said Mills. "Probably later in the season is when I'll end up making my decision."
Given his offer list, it appears the 6-foot, 180-pounder is headed outside the state to play college ball but that isn't a problem for Mills, who says distance is not a factor in his recruitment.
"Not at all," he said. "I just want to go to where the team plays the top level competition every game and goes out there and wins."
Davis enjoying time in Aggieland
If there was one player who really gave it his all this weekend, it was Houston (Texas) quarterback Matt Davis. Ranked 73rd overall in the country by MaxPreps, Davis showed he was fully recovered from a knee injury last season by playing both quarterback and safety for his Klein Forest team in every game despite it being roughly 100 degrees two days in a row.
"It's pretty hot but I'm doing what's best for the team," Davis said. "It's all about athleticism. Anything that comes in the air, we try and snatch it up. We just try and make plays."
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder is a Texas A&M commitment and represented the Aggies well, throwing a nice spiral and really spinning the ball well in the 7-on-7 setting. Being able to grab some wins in the fields near where he will one day play was an experience and just one of the reasons why he'll eventually make his way up to College Station.
"It's great," he said. "I'm always looking back over there at Kyle Field."
"I talked with Coach Williams yesterday, he was just asking how we did. I told him we won all three and had a game tomorrow. He's great."
Though he holds offers from Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Oklahoma State and others, Davis is a very solid commitment to Texas A&M because of that relationship with the current staff.
"That's the main reason why I committed," Davis said. "They have great coaches here, great fans, great recruits."
In between games and even during them, the four-star signal-caller is one of several Aggie recruiters, hoping to lure the next wave of talent to the program.
"There's a kid on Plano's team, a 2013 kid, so I told him to come to the A&M camp tomorrow," Davis said. "There's a lot of kids out here. I know there's a kid from Arlington, (linebacker) Sam Douglas, they say he's a player. In between possessions, I may talk to him a little bit."
- Texas A&M, Oregon, USC, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and others have shown interest in Rosenberg Terry High wide receiver Derrick Griffin. The 2013 prospect was dominant Saturday, powering his team to a consolation game win and using his 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame to shield the ball from defenders. Griffin is already well known from playing AAU basketball (he already holds an Oklahoma offer) but it not surprising when he said he'll likely be playing both sports in college after his performance at the 7-on-7 tournament. He has already camped at Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
- Baylor commit Kiante Griffin played both ways for his team and looked good when observed. He could succeed at the next level at either but it still seems like he'll wind up on offense.
- TCU pledge Kolby Listenbee had on an Oregon shirt Saturday but not to worry TCU fans, he didn't have a Horned Frogs shirt and the Ducks shirt was all that he had in his bag after returning from The Opening last week.
- Texas Tech quarterback commit Clayton Nicholas had a very good tournament, leading his team to the consolation game final and looked very sharp. He was named to the All Tournament team over several other deserving players but easily earned the honor.
- One 2013 player that caught just about everyone's eye was Austin (Texas) Lake Travis wide receiver Dannon Cavil. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound rising junior impressed with size and speed but he has a very good pair of hands. Several colleges are already interested and pursuing him.
Tags: Alabama, Altee Tenpenny, Arkansas, Baylor, Big 12, Bryson Echols, Clayton Nicholas, Dannon Cavil, Derrick Griffin, Florida State, Houston, Jalen Mills, Kiante Griffin, Kolby Listenbee, Kyle Field, Landon Collins, Landon Collins, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Mark Stoops, Matt Davis, Memphis, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pitt, Sam Douglas, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas state 7-on-7 tournament, Texas Tech, The Opening, Tulsa, USC, UTEP, Virginia
Posted on: July 16, 2011 12:51 am
Edited on: July 16, 2011 8:16 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Heading into the Texas state 7-on-7 Division II championship game, many had pegged Houston area private school The Kinkaid School - one of the smallest in the tournament - as the favorite thanks to the strong arm of quarterback Ford Childress.
Despite leading most of the game and having a shot to tie it with 43 seconds left, the West Virginia commit could only do so much for his team and ended up falling short of a state title. Disappointed after the game, the signal-caller decided to look at the positives of outlasting a lot of good competition and putting his team in a position to win.
"I'm excited to play here and it was a good game," Childress, son of former Texas A&M and Houston Oilers defensive tackle Ray Childress, said. "It's awesome to play at Kyle Field.
"It was really hard (to get here) and really hot. It was definitely worth it though, I definitely think we got a lot better. We almost got it."
After verbally committing to the Mountaineers in early April, one would expect Childress' recruitment to die down a little but there are still several schools who are continuing to recruit him.
"Oklahoma State, Arizona State and Florida State are still looking at me," he said. "I'm not really thinking about changing from West Virginia though, I want to go there."
At the moment, the 6-foot- 4, 210-pounder is firmly locked in to the school and is not planning to take any other official visits.
"That could change," he conceded.
With the turmoil that went down in Morgantown last month between former head coach Bill Stewart and current head coach Dana Holgorsen, some outsiders wandered what the effect would be on West Virginia's recruiting. For offensive recruits such as Childress, the elevation of Hologorsen was a net positive in the end.
"It was a little nerve-racking but it turned out for the best I guess," Childress said. "It really doesn't bother me. (Coach) Holgorsen was the original draw. I went up there and realized why we went there and I think it's going to work for me."
- TCU commit Austin Aune couldn't quite break through with his team either, falling in the first round of the single elimination tournament in a shootout. Also bounced in the first round was Celina High, favored by some to win the whole thing.
- Celina's Jake Raulerson, one of the top 2013 offensive lineman in the state, has a brother, Josh, who played linebacker and he moved pretty well in the team's only game Friday. Jake ended up picking up a Texas A&M offer Friday according to reports but rumors are that he's looking at SEC schools the hardest.
- The best player in the Division II bracket was probably Texas Tech commitment Dominque Wheeler. He carried his team offensively and showed off some really good speed and athleticism.
- Texas A&M commitment Matt Davis showed why some have labeled him as an athlete, playing both ways the entire game despite the heat and humidity. He can really spin the ball but knows when to take some off, crucial in 7-on-7 where most teams dink and dunk their way down the field.
- Notre Dame commit Nicky Baratti also played both ways and though he did well, we can understand why the Irish are bringing him on board as a linebacker prospect. He's big and fast enough to control the middle of the field and should be a good fit.
Tags: Arizona State, Austin Aune, Bill Stewart, Dana Holgorsen, Dominque Wheeler, Florida State, Ford Childress, Houston Oilers, Jake Raulerson, Josh Raulerson, Kyle Field, Matt Davis, Nicky Baratti, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Ray Childress, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas state 7-on-7, Texas Tech, West Virginia
Posted on: July 15, 2011 8:14 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- If you didn't know he was there, you probably would have missed him.
Hard to say you could miss a 6-foot-2, 225-pound, nine-time Gold Glove Award winner but everybody was looking for a cool, out of the way spot and Torii Hunter had found his behind the end zone.
He was there to watch his three kids at the Texas state 7-on-7 tournament and despite it being nearly 100 degrees, the Los Angeles Angels outfielder was all smiles after watching his three sons play for Prosper High.
"I'm having a good time just hanging out with my boys and watching them go to work. They always watch me do work so I should give back," Hunter said with a laugh. "I'm proud. These last couple of games we watched were pretty good."
The Eagles were indeed pretty good, going 2-1 in pool play on Thursday to grab a number one seed with hopes of advancing to the Division II final at Texas A&M's Kyle Field Friday afternoon.
"We came out here to play as a team and it's probably the best we've ever played," Torii Jr. said. "We all wanted to because we had a rough time being able to qualify. It's hot out and we don't want to waste it."
Junior is one of three Hunters on the team, joined by his brothers Cameron and Darius, and the trio actually ended up catching several touchdowns throughout the day. The opportunity to play on one team and make a difference on the field is something they all look forward to on a daily basis.
"It's pretty unique," Torrii Jr. said. "Most kids don't get to do that with their brothers. We're all the same age and it's a great opportunity."
"I'm excited for them, they've worked their butts off since they were young kids," Hunter Sr. said. "I was always in their ear, they'd always listen to dad. They're growing up to be good young men on and off the field."
Taking some time off during the all-star break to be with his family, the elder Hunter is a welcome sight during the middle of the baseball season, a time when they typically don't see each other that often.
"He usually doesn't come out to any of the games during the summer," junior said. "It's great for him to come down here and watch him play a little bit."
Though the patriarch of the family makes his living playing baseball, the multi-sport star growing up in Pine Bluff (Ark.) has no problem if his kids decide to go the football route.
"No, no, I was a football player," Hunter said. "That's my dream to play major league baseball. They have to get their own dream and make their own way. I'm all for it. These guy play basketball, football, baseball; they play all three sports right now and whatever they excel in or go to college for, I'm all for it."
The father even dishes out pretty good advice from time-to-time to all of his three kids, who are all underclassmen and have a shot to earn a scholarship down the road.
"That touchdown I had, he was telling me to create a route," Jr. said. "If the route doesn't work, create one, and that's what I did. He taught me everything I know really.
"Having heart, having that drive. That's what he's taught me."
And that gives Hunter Sr. the biggest smile of the day.