The Texas A&M football coaches have assembled a recruiting class that is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation by 247sports.com. The Aggies have a few questions that need to be answered before they complete their signing class.
You win and lose football games in the Southeastern Conference in the trenches. If the Aggies want to win SEC titles, then they will have to improve their play on both sides of the line, and the only way to do that is through recruiting.
The Aggies need to address some issues on their defensive line with the 2014 recruiting class. They also need to continue to build depth throughout their roster so they can stand up to the rigors of an SEC schedule.
This is a look at what questions need to be answered as the Aggies complete their recruiting class.
The biggest question that needs to be answered before signing day is: Who all is coming back for the Aggies? The Aggies have multiple players who may declare early for the NFL draft.
Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel and sophomore receiver Mike Evans are both projected to be drafted in the first round of the NFL draft. It would make sense for both of them to declare early for the draft, and the Aggie coaches have to assume that they will, and adjust accordingly.
The issue is a little murkier when it comes to offensive linemen Cedric Ogbuehi and Jarvis Harrison. Some believe that Ogbuehi will be a first-round pick if he declares for the 2014 draft.
Harrison is not projected to be selected in the first round, but he may chose to declare early also if the information he receives from NFL scouts is positive. Obviously this will have a huge effect on the recruiting class.
If Harrison and Ogbuehi declare, then the Aggies will only return two of their five starters on the offensive line. They have begin to address this issue with two junior college offensive linemen committed in the 2014 class.
If Harrison declares early, then the A&M coaches need to consider adding a junior college guard to the class. You can never have too much depth in the SEC, and an extra offensive linemen who is ready to contribute out of junior college would be a welcome addition.
The most glaring weakness on the 2013 Texas A&M football team was the defense. All too often, the Aggies simply found themselves overrun at the point of attack.
The Aggies' defensive line was simply not up to par in 2013. A lot of that had to do with tremendous youth at the position. A number of true freshmen saw extensive playing time on the defensive line in 2013.
Four of the six defensive linemen who signed with the Aggies in the 2013 recruiting class saw the field as true freshmen. Jordan Points and Justin Manning both redshirted during the 2013 season.
If the Aggie coaches are convinced that the defensive tackles in the 2013 class will be difference makers in 2014, then there is no need to add more defensive tackles in the 2014 class.
They currently have one defensive tackle in DeShawn Washington committed. If they feel comfortable with the defensive linemen on campus, you will not see them add another defensive tackle in the class. If not, then expect the coaches to look in the junior colleges for a defensive tackle who could step in and start in 2014.
Frank Iheanacho out of Houston Westside High School is one of the top-ranked recruits in the nation. He is currently considering A&M among a number of other schools.
If Iheanacho commits to the Aggies, then the coaches need to decide where he projects as a player. If he projects as a tight end, then the Aggies will remain in the market for another receiver. If he projects as a receiver, then the Aggies will probably shut down the recruiting at that position.
The Aggie coaches will leave a spot open for a true difference maker like Speedy Noil, but if Iheanoacho commits, you will see them move on from the receiver position. If Iheanacho decides that Oregon or Arkansas or a better fit for him and commits elsewhere, look for the Aggies to raise the heat on prospects like Davion Hall to pledge to the Aggies.
The defense is obviously the area of biggest concern to the Aggie football coaches right now. The Aggies need to shore up the front seven of their defense if they want to compete for an SEC title in 2014.
The coaches need to make sure that the linebacker position is one of strength in the coming years. The play from the Aggie linebackers in 2013 left a lot to be desired. They were simply too small to tackle SEC running backs and quarterbacks.
In order to get bigger at the position, the Aggie coaches are going to need to recruit bigger linebackers. The 2014 class has two linebackers committed in it. Expect the coaches to try to add to that number before signing day.
Aggie fans should expect the A&M coaches to concentrate on trying to flip Texas commit Otaro Alaka, and to gain a commitment from Edwin Freeman. Neither of those linebackers currently have great size, but they have the type of frames to add weight.
Both could redshirt in 2014 and be difference makers on the 2015 defense.