Recruiting is the lifeblood of any college football program. Before they became greats on the field, many of Texas A&M's greatest players started off as unknown recruits who were not expected to do much in Aggieland. The opposite is also true, as many of the highest ranked recruits never lived up to their hype on the field.
Recruiting is not an exact science. An entire industry has sprung up around recruiting, as various pundits attempt to rank the recruits and project their future successes in college and the NFL.
On the other end of the spectrum are the recruits that are hyped beyond belief coming out of high school. They are considered "can't miss" prospects, and whoever signs them will surely achieve football nirvana for the next three years until they continue on their pre-ordained path to the NFL.
This is a look at the latter group of recruits. This is a look at the most highly thought of recruits coming out of high school who ended up signing with Texas A&M.
Reggie McNeal was one of the top rated recruits in the country when he came out of Lufkin (TX) High School. He was listed as an "athlete" by some of the recruiting sites because he excelled at quarterback and safety in high school.
McNeal had a great arm and had run a 10.52 in the 100 meters at the state finals as a junior. He could beat you with his arm or his legs.
McNeal passed for 2385 yards and 24 touchdowns and added 856 and 10 touchdowns rushing as a senior in high school. McNeal also intercepted seven passes while playing safety.
McNeal chose A&M over Arkansas, Miami and a host of other schools. At the time, most fans expected him to lead the Texas A&M program to an elite level and compete for a national title.
The highlight of McNeal's collegiate career came during his freshman season when he led the Aggies to a 30-26 victory over then No. 1 Oklahoma at Kyle Field.
McNeal completed eight of 13 passes in the game for 191 yards and four touchdowns. McNeal's career was pretty much a letdown from that point going forward.
Dennis Franchione replaced R.C. Slocum as the head coach of the A&M team in 2002. In 2003, McNeal set A&M records for total yardage as he passed for 2,791 yards passing and 718 rushing.
Franchione switched the Aggies to a option based offense in 2004, and McNeal struggled. He got injured and did not finish out the season.
McNeal was drafted in the sixth-round of the 2006 draft by the Cincinnati Bengals as a wide receiver. He last two years in Cincinnati, then spent five years in the Canadian Football League.
McNeal recently returned to Texas A&M to complete his degree. He has ran into some problems with the law, but appears to be advancing towards his degree.
Christine Michael was one of the top three running back recruits in the country when he came out of Beaumont (TX) West Brook High School and signed with Texas A&M in 2009. He had the coveted 5-star rating by rivals.
The Aggies won out over LSU, Florida and Miami in the competition for Michael's signature.
Michael had great size and speed, and was expected to be an immediate impact player in Aggieland. He rushed for 844 yards and 10 touchdowns as a freshman on his way to earning Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors.
Unfortunately, Michael's career at A&M would be defined by injuries. He rushed for 641 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore but saw his season cut short by a broken leg.
As a junior, he rushed for 899 yards and eight touchdowns in nine games. He tore his ACL against Oklahoma and was done for the year.
Michael spent much of his senior season in head coach Kevin Sumlin's doghouse, and only had 88 carries in 11 games. He rushed for 417 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Michael rushed for 2,801 yards and 34 touchdowns during his career. Those are solid career numbers but nothing close to what was expected from him coming out of high school.
The Seattle Seahawks made Michael their second round selection, No. 61 overall, in the 2013 NFL Draft. He will compete to back up Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch in 2013.
When Sealy, TX athlete Ricky Seals-Jones signed with the Texas A&M, it gave the Aggies one of their most highly ranked recruits ever. He was rated as the No. 2 athlete in the country and the No. 23 overall recruit by 247.com when he signed with Texas A&M out of high school.
Seals-Jones originally committed to Texas, but decommitted before his senior season started. He was the No. 7 ranked player in the nation when he was committed to Texas. Eventually, Seals-Jones removed Texas from any kind of consideration and chose the Aggies over LSU and a host of other national offers.
Seals-Jones had slipped to No. 13 by the time he decided on the Aggies. He played quarterback during an injury-shortened senior season at Sealy High School, but will play wide receiver at A&M.
Seals-Jones was participated in the U.S. Army All-American Game. He had one reception for 17 yards in the game.
While a lot is expected of Seals-Jones in 2013, fans are going to have to accept the fact that he is raw at wide receiver. He spend the last three seasons playing quarterback, defensive end and safety for Sealy.
Seals-Jones is going to have a big adjustment learning how to run routes as a wide receiver in college. At 6'5" 220-pounds he has the type of natural athletic ability to end up in the NFL. Aggies fans are going to have to be patient as he adjusts to the wide receiver position.
Martellus Bennett was ranked as the No. 1 tight end in the nation when he signed with Texas A&M in 2005. He was a dual-sport star who wanted to play football and basketball in college.
Bennett chose the Aggies over opportunities to play football and basketball at LSU, Kansas, Duke, Texas and multiple other national powers. Some pundits ranked Bennett as highly as the No. 8 overall football recruit in the nation when he came out of high school.
As a freshman, Bennett showed promise on the football field as he caught 18 passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns. He struggled to consistently catch the ball but was one of the best blocking tight ends in the nation.
Bennett played his one and only season on the hardwood for A&M during his freshman year. He played sparingly off the bench, but did help contain Glen Davis from LSU during a 58-57 loss to the Tigers in the second round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
As a sophomore, Bennett caught 38 passes for 497 yards and three touchdowns. He improved on those numbers as a junior with a team-leading 49 receptions for 587 yards and four touchdowns.
Bennett's talented were underutilized by Aggie head coach Dennis Franchione who ran an option offense. After his junior season, Bennett declared early for the NFL draft.
In three seasons at A&M, Bennett set a school-record for tight ends with 105 receptions. He was selected in the second round of the 2008 draft by the Dallas Cowboys.
Bennett spent four seasons in Dallas where he was praised as a strong blocker but again drew the fans ire for his inconsistent hands. After four years in Dallas, Bennett signed with the New York Giants as a free agent.
Bennett had the best season of his NFL career in 2012 when he caught 55 passes for 626 yards and five touchdowns with the Giants. After his breakout 2012 season, Bennett signed a four-year $20 million deal with the Chicago Bears.
Jorrie Adams was the most highly decorated offensive lineman to ever sign a letter of intent with Texas A&M. He is also a prime example of how "can't miss" recruits are never a sure thing.
Adams was the No. 1 ranked left tackle in the nation when he came out of Jasper (TX) High School. He was a five-star recruits and it was a foregone conclusion that the 6'7" 265-pound offensive lineman would add some weight in college before going on to a successful NFL career.
The Aggies won the recruiting battle with Arkansas, LSU, Texas and Miami for Adams' signature.
Adams was moved to defensive end as a freshman, and registered 22 tackles with four tackles for loss and half a sack as a sophomore. He ran into some off the field trouble after his sophomore season and was arrested for possession of marijuana.
Adams was kicked out of the program and ended up transferring to Angelo State. He ran into more legal problems and is currently serving a five-year sentence in prison.
Sam Adams was the highest rated defensive lineman to sign with A&M, and one of the best defensive players to ever wear the maroon and white. He was named the Southwest Prep Defensive Player of the Year when he came out of Cypress (TX) Creek High School in 1990.
Adams chose A&M over Texas and Oklahoma. He was considered such a major recruit that the Houston Chronicle allowed readers to follow his recruitment though a weekly recruiting diary that Adams wrote.
Adams started on the defensive line all three seasons he was at A&M at nose guard and defensive end. He was named All-American and the SWC Defensive Player of the Year in 1993.
After registering 73 tackles with 10.5 sacks as a junior, Adams declared early for the NFL draft where he was selected No. 8 overall by the Seattle Seahawks.
Adams spent 14 seasons in the NFL. He was selected to three Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl ring with the Baltimore Ravens.
Trent Driver was going to be the next great Aggie linebacker. He was the headliner of the Aggies' 1994 recruiting class.
Fellow linebacker recruit and member of the 1994 class Dat Nguyen mentioned in his book Dat: Tackling Life and the NFL that Aggie head coach R.C. Slocum skipped a recruiting visit with Nguyen to go visit Driver.
The Austin American-Statesman ranked Driver as the No. 1 player in the state of Texas in 1994. That was a recruiting class that included future NFL players Dat Nguyen, Dan Campbell and Allen Rossum.
The Aggies beat out Texas and a host of other national programs for Driver's signature.
Driver did not start at A&M until his senior season. He started all 12 games at inside linebacker and register 78 tackles with eight tackles for loss and two sacks.
Driver had the misfortune of arriving at A&M when there were other great linebackers in the program like Dat Nguyen and Warrick Holdman. He was a solid college player and that was it.
The "can't miss" recruit was not selected in the 1998 NFL Draft and is currently out of football.
D.J. Davis signed with Texas A&M at a time when Aggie fans were looking for any hope for the future of the program. He was a member of the 2004 recruiting class and the Aggies were in the middle of the Dennis Franchione era in College Station.
Davis was a four-star recruit according to Rivals, and was expected to be an all-conference caliber safety for the Aggies. He participated in the 2004 U.S. Army All-American Game and was a national recruit.
The Aggies beat out Missouri, Notre Dame and Penn State for his signature. Jones was expected to follow in the footsteps of Terrance Kiel and Patrick Bates into the NFL.
Jones would never record a tackle in his A&M career. He lasted only one season on campus before deciding to transfer. Jones is currently out of football.