Defense wins championships.
Recruiting, however, can be the difference between starting a dynasty and falling to last place in the conference, especially in the SEC. As the Aggies make their jump to their new league, building both a strong defensive unit as well as gaining significant ground on the recruiting trail will be important for future success.
With A&M's 2013 class getting close to capacity, many begin to focus their attention on where the Aggies are going further down the road. New head coach Kevin Sumlin has established a precedent of offering to promising prospects early, targeting young football studs who would be key pieces of classes down the road.
We take a look at five 2014 A&M targets to keep your eye on as Sumlin's recruiting continues to rampage through the state of Texas.
Hometown: Arlington, TX
Coming in with a solid 6'1" 200-pound frame, Edwin Freeman has an ideal build for a stud college safety. Hailing from Bowie High School, the incoming junior is considered one of the better prospects at his position and would be a giant pickup for the Aggies and their 2014 class.
With A&M's secondary still considered weak when compared to other SEC squads, picking up top prospects to fill in quickly is essential for success in defending the pass. Under new DC Mark Snyder's multiple 4-3 defense, pressure is placed heavily on safeties and their ability to read passing situations correctly.
Freeman is a solid defensive back with a ton of potential for growth and development. As Sumlin and his staff focus more on picking up replacements for their depleted secondary, the young safety out of Arlington provides a great option for increasing the lethality of one of A&M's weakest units.
He holds offers from four universities with strong interest in Texas A&M and Texas, per 247sports.
Hometown: Houston, TX
Zach Whitley, a 6'2", 220-pound linebacker, is one of the top prospects poised to make leaps and bounds on the recruiting front over the next two seasons. Even with A&M loading up at the position for the 2013 class, the Houston native would be a valuable asset considering where the Aggies will be following their inaugural SEC season.
As Sean Porter, Jonathan Stewart and Steven Jenkins all take their leave, Whitley will have the opportunity to help A&M rebuild one of the top linebacker corps in the country. Considering the talent he has shown on the field already, Whitley has all the tools to make an impact against the powerful offenses of A&M's new conference.
Whitley holds just one offer from the Aggies yet is interested in programs such as Alabama, LSU and Texas as well, per 247sports.
Hometown: Lancaster, TX
Standing at a somewhat small 5'9" and 175 pounds, Nick Harvey has found ways to make up for his lackluster physical abilities with aggressiveness and outright speed on the field. With the Aggie secondary still one of the weakest units on the depth chart, Harvey would be a welcome addition in the 2014 class.
With just two cornerbacks having committed for this upcoming recruiting class in Noel Ellis and Tarvares Garner, Sumlin and his staff need to start focusing on bringing in some serious talent at the ever-volatile defensive back position.
At this time, Harvey has already acquired nine offers from universities such as Texas, Oklahoma, LSU and Notre Dame, but A&M still remains in the mix, per 247sports. Securing this young corner would be a huge step in the right direction for the Aggies and their passing game.
Hometown: La Porte, TX
With Spencer Nealy graduating and Damontre Moore possibly entering the NFL Draft following this upcoming season, the Aggies are beginning to become extremely thin at the defensive end position. In steps Hoza Scott, a 6'3" 225-pound defensive lineman prepared to make an immediate impact down in the trenches.
Already hovering on the thin line that separates 4- and 5-star prospects, Scott has shown extreme interest in staying in-state to play his college ball. A quick first step and a solid punch make him a commodity valuable to programs across the country.
For now, Scott holds four offers from Alabama, LSU, Texas and Texas A&M with the Aggies and Longhorns standing as the leaders for the big-shot recruit. According to a 247sports report, A&M holds a slight advantage for his commitment.
Hometown: Arlington, TX
Hailed as the top safety in his class, Edward Paris is a game-changing type of defender prepared to immediately take on big-time offensive threats the moment he steps on the field. As Sumlin continues to look for prospects to bulk up his weakened secondary, Paris stands out as the player to build around for years to come.
The 6'1" 190-pound safety started his freshman year at Mansfield Timberview and has picked up 10 interceptions, eight of which came last season, along with 70 tackles. Put simply, this young defensive back has experience and all the right tools to perform at a high level, particularly in the top conference in the nation.
Holding 17 offers from universities such as Michigan, Nebraska, Texas and Notre Dame, Paris has already narrowed down his top six. Texas A&M, Oklahoma and LSU have offered while USC, Oregon and Stanford have yet to shovel out the scholarship, meaning the Aggies should remain in the mix till the very end, per 247sports.