The Texas A&M football coaches are putting the finishing touches on a recruiting class that is ranked No. 4 by 247sports.com. If the Aggies want to have a truly complete class, then they need to sign safety Steven Parker on national signing day.
Parker is a 6'2," 188-pound safety from Jenks, Oklahoma. He is a 4-star recruit who is ranked the No. 9 safety in the nation and the No. 2 recruit in Oklahoma by 247sports.com.
The Aggies need some major help at the safety position. They featured poor safety play early in the 2013 season with junior Howard Matthews and junior Clay Honeycutt starting.
Honeycutt's play was so poor during the Alabama game that cornerback Deshazor Everett was moved to safety to replace Honeycutt until junior safety Floyd Raven recovered from a collarbone injury.
Raven did not play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl after he was in the same car with freshman linebacker Darian Claiborne when Claiborne was arrested and suspended. With Raven out, Honeycutt was forced back into the starting lineup and had a very poor game against Duke.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl featured multiple blown coverages by Matthews and some missed tackles by Honeycutt. The Aggies' safety play in the bowl game was atrocious.
The only way to improve the play at safety is to get better players back there. If the Aggies want to improve their defense in 2014, then they must have different starters at safety than Honeycutt and Matthews.
Raven will be back for his senior season if he can stay out of trouble off the field. Jonathan Wiggins saw playing time on special teams as a true freshman and will factor into the discussion at strong safety in 2014.
Freshmen Victor Davis and Kam Miles both redshirted during the 2013 season and they will compete for a starting job during the spring. The Aggies have safety recruit Armani Watts committed in the 2014 class.
What the Aggie coaches desperately need is a safety recruit who can step in and make an immediate impact in the Southeastern Conference. Parker has the size and the speed to do that.
According to 247sports.com, Parker runs a 4.5 in the 40. That is plenty of speed to play the back end in the SEC, especially for a safety of his size.
If the Aggies can get better safety play, then it will allow Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder to apply more pressure on defense because he will feel more comfortable blitzing if he knows that his safeties can hold up in coverage.
Parker is the type of recruit who can help turn the Aggies defense around. With an improved defense, Texas A&M will have a chance to increase their win total from 2013 even without Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans on offense.
With the new playoff format in 2014, you do not have to be perfect to have a chance at winning a national title. You simply have to be one of the top four teams in the nation at the end of the season.
With an improved defense and the talent they have returning on offense, the Aggies have as good a shot as anyone at making a run for the playoffs. First they need to improve their defense, and Parker is a key piece to that puzzle.