Texas A&M Football Recruiting: Aggies Learning to Recruit for SEC Play

Jim SullivanFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2013

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 09:  Head coach Kevin Sumlin of the Texas A&M Aggies waits on the field with his team before the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Kyle Field on November 9, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
The Texas A&M Aggies defense failed to live up to expectations this year, succumbing to opposing offenses week after week. Over the course of the 2013 season, the Aggies allowed a Southeastern Conference-worst 460.3 yards per game (105th nationally) while allowing 30.9 points per game (88th nationally; 13th conference-wide). A combination of lackluster leadership, unlucky breaks and absence of experienced veterans in key starting roles killed opportunities for the team, as a whole, to succeed down the stretch of the season. 

The positive news? Head coach Kevin Sumlin and the A&M coaching staff are obviously aware of the problem, and have set recruiting targets as such. 

And while just half of A&M's 20 2014 recruiting commitments are defensive, the talent across the board holds more weight than the offensive side. Six of A&M's top seven locked prospects work on the defensive side of the ball, per 247sports.com composite rankings. 

Texas A&M 2014 Defensive Commits
NamePositionHometown247sports Composite Ranking
Myles GarretDEArlington, TX.9939
Nick HarveyCBRichmond, TX.9754
Dylan Sumner-GardnerSMesquite, TX.9589
Hoza ScottOLBLa Porte, TX.9524
Qualen CunninghamDEChandler, AZ.9334
DeShawn WashingtonDTNederland, TX.9309
Josh WalkerOLBGilmer, TX.9084
Armani WattsSForney, TX.9072
Jarrett JohnsonDEKaty, TX.8942
Cedric CollinsCBDallas, TX.8345

The key takeaway from this focus, though, is that not only does the coaching staff understand its apparent weaknesses against the rest of the Southeastern Conference, but also they are targeting recruits any league powerhouse—ranging from LSU to Alabama to Georgia—would kill to have on their roster as well. 

With this season almost in the rearview mirror, each of these defensive commits can see the Aggies have no shied away from using freshman immediately, as demonstrated by starters such as middle linebacker Darian Claiborne (leads the team in tackles with 89) or defensive tackle Isaiah Golden, who stepped into his position following an early-season injury to Kirby Ennis. 

Not to mention the slew of other young athletes thrown into the mix as the year wore on, including end Daeshon Hall, linebacker Shaan Washington, linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni, nickelback Noel Ellis and a multitude of other incoming prospects from the 2013 class. 

Overall, the current group of commits as a whole is projected at much higher levels of talent than those of many of A&M's current freshman athletes on the field. With commits such as defensive end Myles Garrett (top DE, 10th overall nationally), cornerback Nick Harvey (seventh CB, 54th overall nationally) and safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner (seventh safety, 81st overall nationally), the Aggies will have SEC-ready freshman talent at almost any position on defense. 

And eventually, high-level talent will bolster A&M into not only the conference's, but also the nation's elite programs.