How the Scholarship Cap Affects Texas A&M in 2014

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With National Signing Day just a couple of weeks away, let's see where the Aggies stand against the scholarship cap and where they can go from here.

Remaining Targets for Texas A&M

This is not a complete list by any stretch because knowing Coach Sumlin, he's got an ace or two or four up his sleeve. However, this list provides you with a general idea of who is being targeted. These players and more will be described in greater detail in the upcoming positional breakdowns of the 2014 class leading up to NSD.

NAME POSITION 247SPORTS.COM
COMPOSITE

RANKING

STATUS
KD Cannon WR 30 Baylor
Braden Smith OL 64 Undecided
Steven Parker S 109 Undecided
Otaro Alaka OLB 169 Texas
Kenny Young ILB 189 Undecided
Mattrell Mcgraw S 365 Undecided
Nick Gates OL 478 Undecided
Chris Weatherd OLB JUCO 20 Tennessee
Cole Hedlund K N/A Arkansas

Scholarship limits

The first important number with regards to scholarship allotment is 85. According the the NCAA Bylaws, there is an annual limit of 85 scholarships in FBS football.

15.5.6.1 Bowl Subdivision Football. [FBS] There shall be an annual limit of 25 on the number of initial

counters (per Bylaw 15.02.3.1) and an annual limit of 85 on the total number of counters (including initial

counters) in football at each institution. (Revised: 1/10/91 effective 8/1/92, 12/15/06)

At no time will a school have more than 85 counters on scholarship in their football program. A "counter" is defined by the NCAA as:

15.02.3 Counter. A "counter" is an individual who is receiving institutional financial aid that is countable

against the aid limitations in a sport.

An "initial counter" is someone receiving financial aid for the first time. As of 2006, each university cannot add more than 25 initial counters each year. However, prior to 2009, there was no limit to how many kids could sign a letter of intent. As Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt so eloquently put it at the time, "...there's no rule that says we can't sign 80." Nutt's quote was after the Rebels signed 37 prospects on National Signing Day (NSD); all while knowing a dozen or so would have to greyshirt or sign with a junior college to get to the 25 cap. A "greyshirt" is when a recruit commits to a school but does not sign until he completes the Fall semester of what would be his freshman year. This allows the recruit to count against the subsequent year's recruiting numbers. Texas A&M experienced this with JJ Gustafson this year while he rehabbed from a knee injury.

Following Nutt's extreme 2009 National Signing Day, the Southeastern Conference limited the number of National Letters of Intent (NLI) that could be signed to 28, in May of that year. The NCAA followed suit in August of 2010.

13.9.2.3 Limitation on Number of National Letter of Intent/Offer of Financial Aid Signings—Bowl

Subdivision Football. [FBS] In bowl subdivision football, there shall be an annual limit of 28 on the number

of prospective student-athletes who may sign a National Letter of Intent or an institutional offer of financial aid

from the initial signing date of the regular signing period of the National Letter of Intent through May 31. [D]

(Adopted: 1/16/10 effective 8/1/10)

That last line is a key component of that bylaw as it opens the door to add prospects who do not sign between February and May. You see this with prospects that graduate a semester early (early enrollees). Junior college players who are early enrollees that are transitioning to FBS football have a signing day in December every year. Three signed with the Aggies on December 18th of this cycle: Jermaine Eluemunor, Avery Gennesy, and Josh Reynolds. Similarly, high school athletes who graduate in December also do not sign in that window because they are already in school when National Signing Day rolls around. Kyle Allen, Speedy Noil, and Zaycoven Henderson fall into this category. As long as a school did not fill their NLI allotment of 25 the previous recruiting year, they can fill those spots with early enrollees in the next class. This is why you saw the Ags sign 30 prospects in the 2013 class.

How does this all affect the Aggies in 2014?

In 2012 Texas A&M counted 2 early enrollees back to the 2011 class and signed an additional 17 prospects.

In 2013 Texas A&M counted 7 early enrollees back towards the 2012 class and signed 23 additional prospects.

As it stands, A&M will count JJ Gustafson's greyshirt and one other early enrollee back to 2013. That gives them 19 additional commitments heading into signing day. Which leaves Texas A&M with as many as 6 additional slots if they choose to fill them.

**NOTE**

Rumor has it that Dallas Skyline cornerback Cedric Collins' football days are over due to injury. A&M will honor his scholarship so he will count against the 25 initial counters but not the 85 overall limit.

There is also a sense that La Porte linebacker Hoza Scott will not qualify academically. Like with Derrick Griffin last year, the Aggies could choose not to sign him and use that slot on someone else or an early enrollee next year.

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