Texas A&M Football Recruiting: Power Ranking the Last 5 Recruiting Classes
Over the course of the past decade, A&M has gone through some turbulent recruiting storms. When RC Slocum retired back in 2002, the Aggies football program immediately began to spiral downhill, never truly starting to recover until former head coach Mike Sherman stepped in back in 2008.
Facing off against top-notch recruiters such as Mack Brown, Bob Stoops and Les Miles from storied football programs like Texas, Oklahoma and LSU, respectively, the Aggies have struggled to keep up.
Recruiting in college football is arguably the most intense part of the entire sport. However, A&M has become exponentially more competitive in the past five years, scoring a Top 25 recruiting class in each offseason.
We take a look at the past five recruiting classes for the Aggies, power ranking the seniors that graduate this May to next year's incoming freshmen and everyone in between.
5) 2011 Recruiting Class
Key Members: QB Johnny Manziel, DB Howard Matthews, OL Joseph Cheek, K Taylor Bertolet and DB Floyd Raven
While it may be somewhat premature to rank this class, one that hasn't had a shot to prove itself yet, as last of the five, it does stand out as Sherman's weakest by far. According to Rivals, A&M only received three 4-star recruits' commitments, the lowest compared to the other four classes.
The big offensive lineman Joseph Cheek just needs to wait till A&M's highly experienced O-line filters out to the NFL. His impact will eventually be huge considering the amount of mentorship he will have received from players such as Jake Matthews, Luke Joeckel and Patrick Lewis.
QB Johnny Manziel is just ready and waiting to be A&M's next big thing. After being red-shirted this past season, he is the leading candidate to replace superstar senior quarterback Ryan Tannehill. A prolific high school threat, I personally look forward to his performance in the offseason battle for starting QB.
Ranked as the top kicker of his class, Taylor Bertolet is now set to try and replace the Lou Groza award winning legman Randy Bullock. We get to see just how solid he really is this next season as he will most certainly take the vacant kicking job for the Aggies.
Finally, the two players who have actually had a shot to make an impact on the field. Defensive backs Floyd Raven and Howard Matthews each had some time on the field this past season as head coach Mike Sherman hoped the young men would improve the faltering secondary.
Their impact wasn't too strong then, but as they come in now as sophomores, new DC Mark Snyder will see their experience as invaluable for the upcoming season.
4) 2012 Recruiting Class
Key Members: RB Trey Williams, QB Matt Davis, WR Thomas Johnson, DB Devante Harris and OL Mike Matthews
Considered one of the best classes in recent memory, many an Aggie fan has to give credit to the combined efforts of Mike Sherman and Kevin Sumlin to pull this top-notch group of high school seniors together.
With its centerpiece being RB Trey Williams, the 2012 recruiting class is perched on the brink between success and failure. They will be the first class to experience the SEC all four years of their college careers, making how strong they are a giant impact on how successful this A&M program will be in the future.
With the Aggies first 5-star recruit since RB Christine Michael, Trey Williams was ranked as the 15th best overall recruit in the nation by Rivals. Keep an eye out for him to learn under senior Christine Michael next season as the Aggies work their way into the SEC.
With A&M's QB battle just starting to heat up, enrolled freshman QB Matt Davis should play an integral part in its evolution. As one of the Aggies' most solid recruits from the 2012 class, sticking to A&M after the firing of Mike Sherman, Davis will more than be a threat to red-shirt freshman Johnny Manziel and sophomore Jameill Showers.
When A&M lost 4-star WR Bralon Addison to Oregon, Kevin Sumlin went and pulled off a miracle by acquiring the state's top receiver Thomas Johnson. Adding the Texas decommit made this Aggie class one of the most complete in years, and I more than look forward to seeing how it evolves in the meat grinder that is the SEC.
3) 2010 Recruiting Class
Key Members: OT Luke Joeckel, OT Jake Matthews, DE Damontre Moore, OG Cedric Ogbuehi and QB Jameill Showers
Of all the classes on this list, 2010 has certainly been the one with the most immediate impact. Four of the Aggies' starting offensive lineman occupied this big-time group, making it one of the "larger" of Sherman's bunches to all come in together.
Watching both Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews head up the two end positions for the O-line their freshman seasons was honestly painful to watch, but now as they move into their junior seasons, a boatload of experience has them sitting as some of the top OT NFL prospects in the country.
While Von Miller, the All-American out of DeSoto (TX), claimed all the defensive glory for years at A&M, no one was prepared for someone to take over his duties so quickly. Damontre Moore stepped into his shoes in a heartbeat, coming up big for the Aggies all last season.
As the QB battle in College Station heats up, backup sophomore Jameill Showers is right at the center of the whole ordeal. Stepping in for senior Ryan Tannehill during the season, Showers has shown that he would more than be up for the job, but stout competition in Johnny Manziel and Matt Davis provides a challenge the young quarterback must overcome to score the starting position.
2) 2008 Recruiting Class
Key Members: WR Jeff Fuller, DB Trent Hunter, OG Brian Thomas, RB Cyrus Gray, DB Terrence Frederick and OL Joey Villavisencio
As the 2008 class graduates this May, ranking their group up in the top two of the past five years is more than appropriate. A dedicated class that has more than outperformed expectations, seeing them go brings a sense of nostalgia merged with sadness.
The first class under the guise of Mike Sherman, the former NFL coach was able to snag the top-notch wideout Jeff Fuller just two months before National Signing Day. A full-out fad on campus for each of his four years, Fuller proved himself to be one of the most dangerous deep threats in the country year-in and year-out.
Not many fans had high hopes for Cyrus Gray when he arrived on campus, but just a year or two later the running back had shown he was more than up to take over the running game for the Aggies. With the 5-star recruit Christine Michael breathing down his neck, Gray was able to maintain a steady performance and keep the Aggies' ground-and-pound offense on its feet.
With both Terrence Frederick and Trent Hunter emerging from the same high school in Katy (TX), the two defensive backs were able to maintain their connection in A&M's secondary. While the Aggies' pass defense has never been the best in the Big 12, Frederick and Hunter's contribution helped give the struggling position and little bit of a spark.
Finally, this class can't go without the mention of offensive lineman Joey Villavisencio. The tragic loss of the young man during this past winter break was one of the most depressing moments in Aggie football history. His memory as a player, person and Aggie will live on forever.
1) 2009 Recruiting Class
Key Members: WR Ryan Swope, LB Sean Porter, OL Patrick Lewis, DB Coryell Judie, RB Christine Michael and WR Uzoma Nwachukwu
Stealing the top spot in these rankings, the 2009 class stands head and shoulders above any other in the past five years. Pulling in the Aggies' first 5-star recruit since 2005, this group of young men helped A&M evolve into a much more potent program over the past four years.
As they move into their senior year, both Uzoma Nwachukwu and Ryan Swope deserve major credit for helping the Aggies pass game resurge. Coming out of the slot, Swope is a phenomena on campus, owning up the title as Ryan Tannehill's favorite target. I personally look forward to seeing how Nwachukwu performs now that he takes over the No. 1 WR slot for Jeff Fuller.
Leading the offensive line for the past year and prepped to do so again, Patrick Lewis is one of the NFL's top prospects. His play on the interior of the O-line has earned him a Top 10 ranking among guard recruits, allowing the big-time center to mentor the younger players such as Cedric Ogbuehi and Shep Klinke.
As the No. 2 overall outside linebacker prospect going into next season, Sean Porter is poised to be the next big thing for this Aggie defense. His superior play has earned him major respect among many offenses, gearing their game plans around his ball-hawking style.
The biggest member of the 2009 class, 5-star running back recruit Christine Michael is one of the biggest names in the sport. His agility merged with his pure power has made Michael one of the most dangerous backs in the nation. If not for his injury prone nature, Michael would most likely be up amongst the top Aggie backs ever. Keep and eye out for him and this powerful offensive line to lead the Aggies' rushing attack for his senior season.