But now, on the heels of its best football season in 56 years, Texas A&M is asserting itself as the new Lone Star recruiting juggernaut. The momentum from its memorable upset of national champion Alabama, a final top-five AP ranking and a Heisman-winning quarterback is translating into a class that will likely finish among the top three in the SEC and the top 10 nationally for the first time since 2005. For the first time in at least 15 years, the Aggies are poised to assemble a more highly touted haul than their two former Big 12 nemeses, Texas and Oklahoma.
“A lot of people have asked, when is the last time you’ve seen something like this?” said TexAgs.com’s Billy Liucci, who has covered A&M recruiting since 1997. “Well, I’ve never seen it at A&M, but I’ve seen it in the state with Mack Brown. What’s jumped out to me is the parallels between 2012 and 2013 when Kevin Sumlin arrived to Mack Brown’s first two [classes] in Austin in 1998 and 1999.”
Like Brown did then, Sumlin, 48, has immediately turned A&M into the “it” school in the state. From breaking out all-black uniforms to introducing a hipper on-field entrance to dropping in on Friday night high school games via a booster’s helicopter, Sumlin knows what grabs the attention of 17 year olds. He also hired key recruiters like receivers coach David Beaty, a former Dallas high school coach who has blanketed that area, and running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Clarence McKinney, a Houston-area high school coach as recently as 2007.
“It starts with coach Sumlin,” said McKinney. “He’s a player’s coach, he understands what they go through at that particular age in their life. He does things to make those particular kids feel comfortable.”
Of course it doesn’t hurt that Mack Brown might just be the worst coach in American. I don’t know how else you explain it when you look at the recruiting he’s had - the talent level of a ton of top kids just begging to go and play for Texas (especially when A&M was down), the level of play on the field speaks volumes for his coaching ability.
It all comes back to A&M leaving for the SEC, which was a fantastic move even if it meant throwing themselves into a more competitive environment.
It also helps that UT is trending downward and the Big 12 is now a conference full of weak sisters who are surviving by taking other conference’s sloppy seconds. It’s the second coming of the geographically-disadvantaged Southwest Conference. What kind of sell is it to a recruit when you tell him that your conference’s cable network is carried in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, West Virginia, and maybe western Missouri? The Great Plains is now squarely Big Ten country and the SEC continues its march west of the Mississippi.
And whose fault is that? UT, plain and simple. They overestimated their stroke and everyone told them to jump in a lake. Oklahoma and OSU should’ve gotten out while they could. Now they’re stuck.
University Texas players are notoriously described as ” soft, pampered and unprepared ” for the trial of the NFL.
RS is correct. Best football league in the USA and the #2 and #3 are WAAY closer to #4 than #1, hot coach, great backyard.
I would be interested in how tough A and M is academically compared to its SEC brethren .
Urban Meyer knew that at Florida( a good academic school but lenient or athletes ) that could never pass required freshman calculus at Notre Dame .
The good news for A + M :
Kids today could care less about tradition unless it happened while they were in HS .
He is going to get a look from kids in Texas and other states that wouldn’t have opened the 1st letter from A +M in the past. And it appears that he is a closer.
A&M is one of only four SEC schools with membership in the American Association of Universities. The other three are Florida, Vanderbilt, and Missouri. Outside of that, there are some pretty questionable academic programs in the SEC, but we should also remember that some of that is a function of the relative lack of educational strength in the states in which those schools are located.
If memory serves, the only other AAU members in Texas are UT and Rice.