The Texas A&M football team went 11-2 in 2012 and in order to build on that success, they will need to continue to bring in elite talent to the program. Kevin Sumlin and his staff have done exactly that in 2013 as they are going to sign one of the top 10 recruiting classes in the nation on national signing day.
There are multiple ways to judge a class. Most people will simply look at the rankings handed out by the "experts" and compare one class to another from a rankings standpoint. This is flawed because the rankings are rarely accurate.
In order to really get an idea of how good a recruiting class is, you need to look at each individual program and see how the recruits fit the needs of that program. One needs to take into consideration how well the staff of that program identifies and develops the talent they bring in.
Boise State does not bring in top 10 recruiting classes according to the experts, but they get top 10 results on the field. Damontre Moore and Luke Joeckel were not ranked as blue-chip 5-star recruits by the experts, but they were identified as great talent by Mike Sherman and will likely be first round selections in the NFL draft in April.
Sumlin proved in 2012 that he could take the talent available and mold it into a successful team. That bodes well for the future of Texas A&M because Sumlin is bringing in a very talented recruiting class in 2013.
This is a position-by-position look at how the Aggies' 2013 recruiting class grades out.
Kenny Hill: 6'1", 205 Ibs Southlake, Carroll High
Kohl Stewart: 6'3", 185 Ibs Houston, St. Piux High
The Aggies coaches did a tremendous job in identifying two top quarterback prospects and then getting their commitments early. Sumlin inherited Stewart's commitment when he took over the program in 2011.
Stewart verbally pledged to the Aggies before his junior season of high school. He has an exceptionally strong arm and is a very polished passer. Stewart is not expected to ever set foot on campus as he is one of the top baseball prospects in the country.
The Aggies coaches recognized that Stewart would likely be a first round selection in the MLB draft so they went out and looked for another quarterback for the class. They decided on Hill from Carroll High in Southlake.
Hill led Carroll to the 2011 5A state championship while passing for over 3,000 yards and rushing for 1,300 yards. He is a very strong player who is a load to bring down when he scrambles.
Hill had another 3,000-1,000 year as a senior when he led Caroll to the state semi-finals. He is just the latest in a long line of excellent quarterbacks at Caroll which includes Chase Daniel and Greg McElroy.
Aggie fans should expect Hill to redshirt in 2013 as he learns the system.
Please note, all prospects are from high schools in Texas unless otherwise noted.
James White: 6'0" 195 Ibs Pearland, Dawson High
The Ags have plenty of depth at running back with Trey Williams and Ben Malena returning from the 2012 team. They also have Brandon Williams and Tra Carson eligible after the two backs sat out the 2012 season due to NCAA transfer guidelines.
There was not a huge need at this position, but ideally you would take a running back every year in order to keep the depth chart full. The Aggies coaches found their man in James White.
As a junior, White rushed for 1,840 yards and 23 touchdowns on 7.0 yards per carry. He is a very good high school running back who is a great addition to the 2013 class.
As a senior, White rushed for 2,185 yards and 28 touchdowns. White averaged 7.69 yards per carry as a senior. He has very good speed and size that projects well at the college level. White should redshirt in 2013 and enter the 2014 season as your typical 215-220 lb SEC running back.
JaQuay Williams: 6'3", 205 Ibs Fork Union (VA) Military Academy
Ricky Seals-Jones: 6'5", 220 Ibs Sealy High
Laquvionte Gonzalez: 5'10", 150 Ibs Cedar Hill High
Sebastian Larue: 5'10", 175 Ibs Santa Monica High (CA)
Kyrion Parker: 6'3", 185 Manvel High
Jeremy Tabuyo: 5'11", 178 Honolulu (HI) St. Louis High
The Aggies are bringing in the best wide receiver class in the nation. Their staff did a tremendous job of bringing in multiple types of receivers to fit the different roles in their offense.
Williams, Seals-Jones and Parker all have the height to make them an instant mismatch with opposing secondaries. Bringing in one wide receiver in a class who is 6'3" or taller is a nice addition. When you bring in three in a single class, it borders on ridiculous.
Tabuyo, Larue and Gonzalez will all compete for immediate playing time at the slot receiver position. Gonzalez is the most explosive player in the state of Texas. Expect him to return punts against Rice in the opening game of 2013.
Williams will likely start at outside receiver opposite from Mike Evans. A 6'4" receiver lined up across from a 6'5" receiver is a luxury that most NFL teams do not have.
The Ags lost three starting receivers from their 2012 team. They are bringing six receivers in who will all compete to fill those spots. Do not be surprised if four or five members of this class do not redshirt.
Cameron Clear: 6'6", 270 Arizona Western C.C.
The Aggies lost Michael Lamothe to graduation so the coaches needed to find a strong blocker to replace him. Entering is the 6'6", 270 lb Clear, who was considered one of the top offensive line prospects in the nation when he committed to Tennessee in 2011.
Clear played tight end as a true freshman in Knoxville then ran into legal issues in the offseason. He moved on to Arizona Western and then committed to the Aggies in the fall. Clear was an early enrollee, and is already on campus participating in workouts with the team.
Clear will offer the Ags blocking on the edge that they did not have in 2013. He will also be able to provide them an extra threat in the red zone. Clear should remind most Aggies of current New York Giants tight end Martellus Bennett.
If he keeps his nose clean off the field, Clear will be playing on Sundays in two years. He is a truly elite talent. Like Bennett, he should be able to spend 10 years in the NFL as strictly a blocking tight end.
Jeremiah Stuckey: 6'6", 280 Ibs City College of San Francisco
Joas Aguilar: 6'5", 295 Ibs North Richland Hills Birdville High
J.J. Gustafson: 6'6", 270 Ibs Jesuit College Prepatory School of Dallas
Ishmael Wilson: 6'5", 275 Ibs Bishop Dunne Catholic School
The Ags are bringing in a good offensive line class. Stuckey is a junior college offensive tackle who was an early enrollee. He is currently on campus going through the workouts with the team.
He should offer depth at the offensive tackle position behind either Jake Matthews or Cedric Ogbuehi in 2013.
The only other candidate to see immediate playing time is Joas Aguilar. He is strong enough right now to play in the SEC. He will compete for playing time at the right guard position that Ogbuehi vacated to move to right tackle.
Expect Gustafson and Wilson to both redshirt. Offensive line is the hardest position to evaluate in recruiting. Coaches often try to find long athletes with good feet who they can project to be players later on in their careers.
Often times the best offensive linemen in high school are too small to play at the major college level. Meanwhile, the guys with the size and length to play in college, are still trying to adjust to their height and size.
Aggies fans will have to wait three to four years down the road until they can truly judge this class.
Note: J.J. Gustafson will not sign a letter of intent on national signing day. He will rehab a knee injury during the fall and enroll at A&M in January of 2014. He will "greyshirt" and count towards the 2014 recruiting class.
Jordan Points: 6'4", 255 Ibs Rockwall-Heath High
Jay Arnold: 6'4" 235 Ibs Rockwall-Heath High
Justin Manning: 6'2" Ibs 275 Dallas Kimball High
Isaiah Golden: 6'2" 305 Ibs Carthage High
Hardreck Walker: 6'2", 280 Ibs Houston Westfield High
The Aggies are bringing in a very good defensive line class. The only reason it is not graded as an "A+" is because it lacks a true pass rusher at this time.
Jordan Points is an early enrollee and is already on campus participating in workouts. He will compete for playing time at both strong-side defensive end and defensive tackle.
Jay Arnold is one of the more interesting athletes recruited to A&M in recent memory. In addition to being an elite high school defensive end, he is also a national champion in grappling for his age group.
Arnold is one of the top wrestlers in the state and has pinned Kent Perkins, the blue-chip offensive tackle recruit, who is headed to Texas. Right now the UFC is actually a greater threat to Arnold leaving college early than the NFL.
Manning, Golden and Walker will all compete for immediate playing time on the interior of the Aggies' defensive line.
The A&M coaches did a tremendous job of bringing in three defensive tackle recruits with the size and strength to play immediately. There is a huge need for depth on the defensive line and the Aggies coaches went out and got three defensive tackle recruits who can help in 2013.
Please note: Defensive end recruits Torrodney Prevot and Daeshon Hall have not announced where they are signing at the time of publishing.
Update: Lancaster (TX) DE Daeshon Hall signed with Texas A&M. Torrodney Prevot from Alief (TX) Taylor signed with Oregon. With the addition of Hall the Ags' grade for defensive line is boosted to an "A."
Reggie Chevis: 6'2", 238 Ibs Houston Sharpstown High
Tommy Sanders: 6'2", 220 Ibs Butler County (KS) Community College
Brett Wade: 6'2", 215 Ibs Kennedale High
Darian Claiborne: 6'1", 225 Ibs Port Allen High (LA)
Jordan Mastrogiovanni: 6'3", 225 Ibs Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas
Shaan Washington: 6'3", 210 Ibs Alexandria High (LA)
Much like the defensive line, the Ags are losing two starters at linebacker from the 2012 team. They are bringing in a large group of linebackers to compete for those two starting spots.
Wade, Sanders and Chevis enrolled early and are participating in the workouts with the team right now. All three will compete for playing time in 2013 with Sanders expected to start at the strong-side linebacker position vacated by Sean Porter.
Chevis will get a serious look at middle linebacker and is expected to end up in the two-deep at that position in 2013.
Washington is an athlete who could play safety or linebacker for the Aggies. He excelled at multiple positions in high school including wide receiver, punt returner and safety.
Wade and Claiborne are expected to end up at outside linebacker. Sanders, Chevis and Wade appear to be the most likely candidates to see playing time in 2013. Do not be surprised to see Washington sneak into that group because of his speed.
Alex Sezer: 5'10", Ibs 170 Little Cypress-Mauriceville High
Victor Davis: 6'1", 178 Ibs Rosenburg Terry High
Noel Ellis; 5'10, 170 Ibs New Orleans (LA) Edna Karr High
Tavares Garner: 6'0", 170 Ibs Manvel High
Kameron Miles: 6'2", 195 Ibs West Mesquite High
Jonathan Wiggins: 6'3", 190 Ibs Alief Taylor High
The Aggies lost a starting corner and safety off the 2012 team. The chance for immediate playing time was a tremendous lure for many of the incoming defensive back recruits.
Sezer was an athlete who the A&M coaches saw at a satellite camp during the summer before the 2012 season and liked. He is one of the top ranked students in his high school class and graduated a semester early.
Physically, Sezer looks very similar to former Corsicana High School and current Houston Texans defensive back Danieal Manning. Sezer did not really have a position in high school, but the coaches liked his 4.4 speed and his intelligence, so they decided to offer him a scholarship.
He will start off at cornerback. Do not be surprised to see him redshirt in 2012.
Ellis and Garner both have tremendous cover skills and project as cornerbacks. Both of them could see the field in 2013 at corner.
Miles is the most advanced of all the safeties. He could end up the starter at free safety before the season is over. Expect Miles to play immediately on special teams and as a backup. Aggie defensive coordinator Mark Snyder may start Miles when the Ags face offenses that emphasize the run.
This is the best class that A&M has signed in at least a decade. There is tremendous talent at every single position. The only question mark in the class is the lack of a true pass rushing defensive end.
That issue may be resolved on signing day when blue-chip defensive ends Torrodney Prevot and Daeshon Hall choose which college they are going to sign with.
The 2013 class contained tremendous depth. Sumlin and his staff recognized which positions they needed an upgrade in talent at and attacked the problem. Landing three defensive tackles with the talent of Manning, Golden and Walker is a huge coup.
The 2012 team loses three starting receivers so the coaches respond by bringing in the top wide receiver class in the country.
Kenny Hill should be a threat to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards per game in Sumlin's offense. The staff did a tremendous job of adding speed and size at linebacker and in the secondary.
The move to the SEC was supposed to result in better recruiting for the Aggies and this class is the proof of that assertion. It is a tremendous class which should ensure the Ags are able to compete for conference and national titles for years to come.