Texas A&M Football: Is Sumlin the Coach to Beat Brown and Stoops in Recruiting?
With the recent commitment from Manvel (TX) wide receiver Kyrion Parker, the Texas A&M Aggies now have 21 verbal pledges in their 2013 recruiting class. Kevin Sumlin's early success on the recruiting trail brings up the question of whether A&M has found the right coach to beat Mack Brown and Bob Stoops on the recruiting trail.
The 21 verbal pledges that A&M has right now mark the most it has ever had by June in the history of the program. The quality of those pledges is what really sets this class apart from other Aggie classes in the past. Sumlin and his staff know what kind of athletes they need to compete in the SEC, and they have excelled at getting them to commit to A&M.
If the Aggies can hold onto all their verbal pledges, they will land a top-five recruiting class. That will mark a significant change in the recruiting landscape in the state of Texas.
Since 1998 when Mack Brown took over at Texas, the Longhorns have dominated recruiting in the state. Since Bob Stoops was hired in 1999 at Oklahoma, he's probably had the biggest impact on the A&M program, as he and former Aggies head coach R.C. Slocum focused on the exact same type of recruits.
Stoops' success at landing those recruits had a direct correlation with the rise of the OU program and the demise of the A&M program.
While Texas and OU were making changes at the top of their programs, Louisiana State hired Nick Saban to turn things around in Baton Rouge.
With Brown, Stoops and Saban mining all the top talent in the state, there were not enough of the top players to go around, and A&M's fortunes on the field suffered. The Aggies tried to turn things around by hiring Dennis Franchione from Alabama with disastrous results.
Franchione's ego and abrasive style alienated the A&M program from the Texas high school coaches. After five years of frustration for Aggie fans, Franchione "resigned," and Mike Sherman was brought in to right the ship.
Sherman repaired some of the relationships with high school coaches and vastly improved the talent level in the Aggie program. He excelled at identifying future NFL talent and developing it. Unfortunately for Sherman, his solid recruiting did not result in enough wins on the field to satisfy the fanbase.
Sherman was fired, and Sumlin was brought in to lead the Aggies into a new era of football. So far he has exceeded expectations on the recruiting trail. His success can be attributed to a number of factors.
Texas has done a very poor job of identifying high school talent for the last half decade, and that has resulted in a 13-12 record over the past two seasons. While Texas had been a model of consistency on the field for the last decade, we live in a "what have you done for me lately" society, and lately Texas has been mediocre.
Oklahoma has been a very good program but has been kind of stagnant. It will win conference titles but has struggled to win the big bowl games that define programs as elite.
Add into this equation the fact that A&M is joining the unquestioned best conference in the country in the Southeastern Conference. When Sumlin assembled his coaching staff, he focused on recruiting acumen.
He hired David Beaty and Clarence McKinney, who have extensive high school ties in the Dallas and Houston areas, respectively. He has the carrot of competing in the best conference in the country to dangle in front of recruits.
Sumlin is a young coach who can relate to the recruits on a personal level. He plays rap music during practice to simulate crowd noise. The music has a literal use in preparing the team for playing on Saturdays, but the unintended effect is the loose atmosphere it creates around the practice.
Instead of drudgery, visiting recruits see players dancing during drills and get a positive view of practice. The whole vibe of his program is that of a youthful and progressive one.
When you add it all up, the result is that Sumlin is at the right place at the right time, with the right assistants to dominate recruiting in the state of Texas.
Sumlin has already changed the way Texas goes about its recruiting business. There have been multiple reports from around the web about how Texas is now "approving" football players entering their junior seasons of high school for scholarship offers.
With A&M and other schools aggressively identifying and offering juniors in the state, Texas had to respond or fall behind. Brown does not like to officially offer recruits until after signing day of that particular season. In the past he would not have offered any members of the class of 2014 until February of 2013.
Sumlin's success on the recruiting trail has forced Brown to be reactive. He has to "approve" the juniors for offers so they will feel that Texas is interested in them. Otherwise, they will eliminate Texas before their recruiting process really begins.
Sumlin is going to have to win games to keep the momentum going. But for now it appears that the Aggies have finally found the right man for the job to outdo Brown and Stoops on the recruiting trail.
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