Recruiting is the lifeblood of any college football program. The Texas A&M football program has brought in multiple outstanding recruiting classes during the Bowl Championship Series era.
The BCS era started in 1998, when Tennessee upset Florida State to win the national championship. It ended with Florida State's recent victory over Auburn. During that 16 year period, the Texas A&M program has been on a roller coaster.
From the highs of a Big 12 title and a Sugar Bowl appearance in 1998 to the lows of a 4-8 season and the embarrassing losses during the Dennis Franchione era, even at the worst of times, the Aggies still brought in some pretty decent recruiting classes.
Franchione was a terrible coach and developer of talent, but he was a solid recruiter. He did not get the most out of the players he brought to A&M, but he did bring a nice group of athletes to Aggieland.
This is a look at the top recruiting classes the Aggies have signed during the BCS era. Because of the presence of coaches like Franchione, college and professional accomplishments of the players will be considered in this ranking.
College football recruiting should be all about how a player performs on the college gridiron, but a recruit should not be punished because his head coach was incapable of properly utilizing his talent while he was in college.
Ty Warren practices with the Denver Broncos
The 1999 recruiting class was signed by R.C. Slocum coming off of one of the Aggies' best seasons of all time. The Aggies went 11-3 in 1998 and won the Big 12 title.
Slocum signed a highly rated recruiting class that produced some very talented defenders, but they were never able to live up to their signing day hype.
The 1999 class included future first-round draft picks Ty Warren and Sammy Davis and third-round pick Terrance Kiel.
Warren was selected by the New England Patriots. He spent 10 years in the NFL with the Patriots and Denver Broncos before injuries forced him to retire. He played on two Super Bowl-winning teams with New England.
Davis was selected No. 30 overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 2003 NFL draft. He spent three years with the Chargers and one each with the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Kiel was selected in the third round of the 2003 draft by the Chargers, and he spent four years in San Diego. In 2008, he died in an automobile accident.
Von Miller makes a tackle against Tennessee
The 2007 recruiting class was a typical one for the Franchione era in Aggieland. Franchione could not coax many wins out of this group, but it did produce two notable football players. The class produced three NFL players overall, including two future first-round draft picks. It will forever be remembered as the class that produced Von Miller.
The 2007 class also featured a relatively unknown quarterback from Big Spring, Texas, named Ryan Tannehill.
Under the tutelage of Mike Sherman, Tannehill developed into a record-breaking receiver and quarterback at A&M. He was drafted No. 8 overall in the 2012 draft. He is still the only player in college football history to have a 200-yard receiving game and a 400-yard passing game in his career.
Defensive lineman Ben Bass was a member of the 2007 class as well. He had an interesting career at A&M, flunking out of school after a couple of seasons and left the program.
Bass went to junior college and got his academics in order, then returned to the program and graduated while Sherman was the coach. He was a solid contributor who started for two seasons at defensive end under Sherman. He went undrafted but has spent the past two years on the Dallas Cowboys roster.
The 2007 class helped lead the Aggies to a 9-4 season in 2010.
Cyrus Gray runs the ball against Oakland
The 2008 class was the first class of the Sherman era, and it included a couple of future offensive stars for the Aggies.
Sherman was hired in December of 2007 to replace Dennis Franchione, and he got to work signing elite recruits. He convinced wide receiver Jeff Fuller from McKinney Boyd High School to sign with the team. He also picked up running back Cyrus Gray out of DeSoto High School.
Fuller went on to set almost every receiver record in school history, including the single-season and career record for receptions, receiving touchdowns and receiving yards.
Gray rushed for over 3,000 yards in his career, including back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2010 and 2011. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Sherman also signed defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie in the 2008 class. Jerod-Eddie would start for four seasons at defensive end and defensive tackle for the Aggies. He went undrafted in the 2012 draft but made the 49ers as an undrafted free agent and played in the Super Bowl in 2013.
The 2011 Aggie recruiting class will forever be remembered in Aggie lore as the class that included a precocious 3-star quarterback from Kerrville, Texas. It is the class that gave A&M Johnny Football.
Johnny Manziel redshirted in 2011, then became a star in 2012 as the triggerman in Kevin Sumlin's spread offense. He and the Aggies took the SEC by storm and ended the season with an 11-2 record, breaking numerous conference records along the way.
Manziel became the first player to ever win the Heisman Trophy as a freshman and became a pop culture phenomena. He is currently one of the most recognizable athletes in the world.
Sherman also signed an unknown former high school basketball star from Galveston Ball High School in the 2011 class. Mike Evans would go on to become one of the best receivers in Texas A&M history. He earned All-American honors in 2013 while setting an A&M record with 1,394 yards receiving in a single season. He and Manziel are projected by numerous outlets to be first-round selections in the 2014 NFL draft.
Additionally, the 2011 class included cornerback Deshazor Everett, who has started in the secondary for three years for the Aggies. He will return for his senior season in 2014 and compete for all-conference honors.
The 2010 Texas A&M recruiting class is not only the Aggies' best of the BCS era, it may also go down as the best class of offensive linemen ever. Mike Sherman signed three players who will likely start at left tackle in the NFL in a single class. All three of those players project to be first-round selections in the NFL.
The 2010 class has already produced three All-American players. The star of the class is obviously offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, who started at left tackle for three years in Aggieland, earning All-American honors in 2012. He was the No. 2 selection in the 2013 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Cedric Ogbuehi started at right guard in 2012 and moved to right tackle in 2013. He will replace Matthews at left tackle in 2014. Ogbuehi was projected to be a first-round pick in the 2014 draft, but he decided to return for his senior season.
Defensive end Damontre Moore was a member of the 2010 class as well. He was a 3-star recruit whom most services did not bother to rate nationally. But he developed into an All-American defensive end under Sumlin and was the third-round selection of the New York Giants in the 2013 draft.
Ben Malena, Malcome Kennedy and Toney Hurd Jr. were other members of this class who made significant contributions to the A&M program.
The 2010 class could potentially produce four All-Americans and three first-round draft picks. It is the Aggies' best class of the BCS era.