Texas A&M Football: 8 SEC Recruits the Aggies Have to Worry About
Signing day for 2013 has come and gone, and now college football fans are focusing on spring practice and the upcoming season in six months. Six of the Top 10 recruiting classes came from the Southeastern Conference, so Texas A&M's coaches need to be wary about the influx of new talent into the league.
Texas A&M brought in a Top 10 class but depending on whose rankings you look at, it might be the fourth best class in its own division. In the SEC, you need to recruit at an elite level every year just to be competitive.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin knows that the Aggies are still behind their conference-mates from a depth standpoint. He knows that SEC teams bring in elite freshmen every year to make their teams better.
The concept of redshirting an entire class is outdated. If a freshman can help you win, then you play him right away. Alabama and Georgia would not have been in December's SEC title game if they had redshirted Amari Cooper and Todd Gurley.
In the SEC, you recruit players you want to step on the field and help you win right away. This is a look at some of the freshmen that the Aggie coaches will game-plan for in 2013.
Alabama RB Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry may prove to be the best running back in the SEC in 2013. He is 6'3", 240 pounds and reportedly runs a sub 4.5 40-yard dash.
Henry is the college football equivalent of Steven Jackson. He looks like an NFL linebacker lined up in the offensive backfield.
Henry should step in for the departed Eddie Lacy at Alabama and be a legitimate threat to break 1,000 yards rushing as a freshman. Henry broke Kenneth Hall's career high school rushing record that had stood for 60 years.
Henry played in every game at Yulee High School (Florida) since he was a freshman, and he rushed for over 100 yards in every one of those games. He was a man among boys in high school and will be a load for any defense to stop in college.
Mark Snyder and the Aggie's defensive staff are going to have a tough time finding a way to stop T.J. Yeldon and Henry when the Ags face Alabama.
Unless otherwise noted, all weights and 40 times were ascertained in interviews by the author.
Arkansas RB Alex Collins
Alex Collins is a 5'11", 207-pound running back from South Plantation (FL) High School. He gained national attention when his mother refused to sign his letter of intent to attend Arkansas.
With the hire of Bret Bielema as their head coach, expect the Hogs to move away from their pro-style passing offense under Bobby Petrino and more towards the grind-it-out offense that Bielema favored in Wisconsin.
Collins should fit right into this offense. He is a strong running back who can break tackles and has the speed to take it to the house. With Knile Davis declaring for the NFL draft, there should be room on the depth chart for Collins to step in and see playing time.
It remains to be seen how effective the Arkansas offense will be in 2013 as it makes the transition to a more ground-based attack, but Collins should be a big part of that change as a freshman.
Ole Miss DE Robert Nkemdiche
Robert Nkemdiche is the No. 1 recruit in the 2013 recruiting class. Landing him was a huge coup for Hugh Freeze and the Ole Miss staff. He has the size at 6'5", 260 pounds to step in and play immediately in the SEC.
Nkemdiche's brother already starts at linebacker for Mississippi and had six tackles with two tackles for losses against the Aggies when the Ags escaped Oxford with a win last October.
The Nkemdiche brothers should team up to make life miserable for SEC offenses for the next three years. It remains to be seen if Robert Nkemdiche will be as good as his brother in college.
However, the Aggies' coaches will have to account for both brothers when they return to Oxford in 2013.
Auburn DT Montravious Adams
Montravious Adams was one of the top defensive recruits in the nation. The 6'3", 290-pound defensive tackle was a huge get for the Auburn coaching staff.
He has the size, strength and athletic ability to see the field right away at Auburn. He was ranked as a 5-star recruit and No. 25 overall prospect in the nation by Rivals. He had 25 sacks combined in his sophomore and junior years of high school.
Texas A&M is replacing Luke Joeckel and Patrick Lewis on the offensive line in 2013. The Aggies' sophomore center Mike Matthews will have his hands full coping with an athlete like Adams.
Vanderbilt WR Jordan Cunningham
Jordan Cunningham is a 6'3", 175-pound receiver from Florida who should help the Commodores immediately in 2013.
Cunningham should team up with Jordan Matthews to give Vanderbilt two legit deep threats on the field at the same time. Matthews is one of the best receivers in the SEC.
The Vandy offense should be more effective in 2013 now that secondaries will not be able to double-cover Matthews on every passing down. Cunningham should alleviate some of the pressure on Matthews, giving the new Vanderbilt quarterback a viable second option on every passing play.
The Aggie secondary was the team's weakness in 2012, and they will have to break in two new starters in 2013. Cunningham and Matthews will be a stern test for the secondary when they come to Kyle Field on October 26.
Mississippi State DE Chris Jones
Chris Jones may well be the top defensive end recruit in the nation. He was ranked by Rivals as a 5-star and the No. 2 defensive end nationally.
At 6'5", 250 pounds, he has tremendous speed off the edge. Jones is a true pass-rushing threat who should help the MSU defense immediately in 2013.
Bulldog fans should not be surprised to see Jones as a starter at defensive end before the season is over. He has the size and athleticism to play in the NFL. Jones will be a handful for every college left tackle that he faces.
Jake Matthews is making the move from right tackle to left tackle after an All-American season as a junior. Jones will be a good test for Matthews in 2013.
LSU TE DeSean Smith
DeSean Smith is one of the top pass-catching tight end prospects in the country. He will give LSU a pass-catching threat at its "Y" or inside receiver position.
Smith was often split out wide like a wide receiver in high school. He displayed tremendous body control and great hands with his ability to high-point the football.
He should offer LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger a nice security blanket over the middle when a play breaks down. At 6'4", 230 pounds, Smith should make a big target for Mettenberger.
He'll be a tough matchup for the Aggie linebackers and safeties.
Missouri DT Nate Crawford
The Missouri Tigers lost starting defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to an early entry to the NFL draft. Incoming recruit Nate Crawford should help with depth at the defensive tackle position.
Crawford played his high school football in Florida, so he is used to competing at the highest level. He should be able to step in at defensive end and defensive tackle and help out the Tigers.
Missouri always plays the Aggies tough, and they have to travel to Columbia in 2013. Crawford and his teammates will be a tough assignment for the Aggies' offensive line.