The 2013 college football season has come and gone for the Texas A&M program. Now the Aggie coaches are continuing the drive up until national signing day, when they will ink the future stars of the program.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of all college football programs. A great coach can help a team overachieve, but no team wins championships without great players. The only way to assemble that talent is through recruiting.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has proved adept at bringing in top-notch talent to Aggieland during his short tenure in College Station. Sumlin reeled in the No. 16-ranked class in 2012 and the ninth-ranked class in 2013, according to 247sports.com.
The Aggies' current class is ranked No. 3 overall, according to 247sports.com. There is a lot that can happen between now and signing day.
This is a comprehensive look at what Aggie fans need to know for national signing day.
National signing day will be on February 5, 2014. That date marks the first day that college football recruits can sign their letter of intent, a contract between the prospective athlete and a college or university that spells out the terms of scholarship.
When a football recruit signs a letter of intent, the recruiting process ends as the recruit is now contractually bound to play football for that particular college or university. Most recruits sign their letter of intent on national signing day because it will end the stressful process of recruiting.
When there are academic or other issues to consider, sometimes recruits are signed after national signing day. That was the case in 2010 when the Aggies signed an unknown offensive lineman out of Navasota, Texas, named Jarvis Harrison.
Because of concerns that he would not qualify, Harrison was not highly recruited coming out of high school. Mike Sherman signed him when he got the required test score, and he has been a three-year starter for the Aggies on the offensive line.
Once recruits sign with their respective college, the football coaches at that college can officially speak about said recruit to the media and fans. Before that date, NCAA rules prohibits coaches from discussing any prospective student athletes in public.
Recruiting is an inexact science. There is no guaranteed way to predict who will be a success in college football and beyond. Every national recruiting list is full of "blue-chip" recruits who never lived up to their lofty press in college.
With that said, there are recruits who appear to be a step above the rest when they are entering college. The Aggies are lucky enough to have multiple players who fit into this category committed in the 2014 class.
Quarterback Kyle Allen from Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, is the No. 1 ranked pro-style quarterback in the 2014 class according to 247sports.com. He will get the chance to compete with Kenny Hill and Matt Joeckel for the starting quarterback spot in 2014.
Myles Garrett is ranked as the No. 10 overall recruit in the nation by 247sports.com. He showed off his explosive quickness during the Under Armour All-American Game when he registered four tackles for loss with a sack.
Speedy Noil is ranked as the top wide receiver in the nation by 247sports.com. He is a game-breaker who will compete for immediate playing time at slot wide receiver for A&M.
WR recruit Speedy Noil at The Opening
It has become more and more popular for high school recruits to graduate a semester early from high school, in order to enroll in college early and participate in spring practice. These "early enrollees" count toward the previous year's recruiting class.
The Aggies have seven of these recruits in the 2014 class. Three of them come from junior college, one sat out the fall while he recovered from surgery, and three are forgoing the spring semester of their senior year in high school in college.
Kyle Allen is a highly regarded quarterback recruit and will compete for the starting job after Johnny Manziel declared for the NFL draft. Jermaine Eluemunor and Avery Gennessy are both junior college offensive linemen who will for a starting spot on the 2014 line.
JJ Gustafson was a member of the 2013 recruiting class, but was forced to sit out the fall while he recovered from a knee injury. He is healthy and will participate in spring practice.
Josh Reynolds is a junior college wide receiver who will compete for one of the three open starting spots at receiver in 2014. He is transferring into A&M as a sophomore and has three years of eligibility left.
Speedy Noil was a recent commit to the class. He will compete for playing time at the slot position.
Zaycoven Henderson is a defensive tackle recruit from Longview whom the Aggies convinced to sign with A&M over a previous commitment to Texas. He will provide the Aggies with some welcome depth on the interior defensive line.
DE recruit Myles Garrett
The Aggies entered the 2014 recruiting cycle with pressing needs at defensive end, linebacker, offensive line and safety. Kevin Sumlin and his staff have done an excellent job addressing the needs at defensive end and offensive line in the 2014 class.
They still need to add some more linebackers and safeties to the class. The Aggies have two linebackers currently committed in Josh Walker and Hoza Scott.
If Scott is able to qualify, then he will receive immediate playing time in 2014. The question is whether he will qualify or not.
At safety, the loss of Dylan Sumner-Gardner to Boise State was a big one. The Aggies currently have one safety in Armani Watts committed to the 2014 class. That is a position where a freshman could see immediate playing time and possibly start for the Aggies in 2014.
Look for the Aggie coaches to try to find at least one more safety and a linebacker to add to the 2014 class.