Well, we made it.
A mere 531 days after Cedric Collins launched the first 'Yessir' salvo on the rest of college football, the A&M recruiting class of 2014 is complete. And while the true measure of on-field quality will reveal itself in time, it's far more entertaining to prognosticate in ridiculous hyperbole immediately, and apologies to those of you that heard me promise Ta Ta Thompson as a future All-American. Even we experts at Good Bull Hunting whiff. Occasionally.
We also all get the privilege of hearing our favorite coaches speak about their respective classes, and please don't play Signing Day Press Conference Cliche drinking games, because you'll all be dead. Let's turn to Troy head coach Larry Blakeney, owner of the 129th ranked class in the country, although some outlets have them as highly graded as 126.
"We had some needs, and we knew we needed to address them," Blakeney stated, presumably while watching film of Alabama's secondary class and softly weeping.
So, armed with the knowledge that all of us are collectively playing drunken prospect darts, and every coach is lying through his teeth about not being pissed at that 17 year old that backtracked out of a year-long commitment at the last minute because of 'this chick I met last week' - let us try to quasi-objectively take a look at the 2014 A&M signing class.
On offense, it's hard to imagine any of the Aggie coaches being too disappointed in their haul. Kyle Allen arrives as the #1 quarterback prospect in the country, bringing all the publicity and pressures that come with that label. Allen will in turn be throwing to what many consider the #1 wide receiver in the country, New Orleans native Speedy Noil, or turning to 6'6" Mike Evans starter kit Frank Iheanacho. Fans will be able to tell when the lanky Houston product scores by listening for a lone voice screaming 'That very tall guy is a touchdown!'.
The other two members of the receiving class are less heralded, but 6'3" JUCO Joshua Reynolds' tape looks for all the world like Derel Walker 2.0 (that's a good thing), and Lufkin's own Jamal Jeffrey provides yet another lightning-quick option at inside receiver.
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Up front, the Aggies welcome five offensive linemen, with nationally recruited JUCO's Jermaine Eluemunor and Avery Gennesy leading the way. Gennesy sports incredible feet and athleticism for a 6'5", 315 pound man, and should provide immediate competition at the right tackle and left guard spots. Eluemunor's highlights consist mainly of him throwing various undersized defensive ends to the ground on what looks to be a shoddily maintained YMCA field from 1977, so I'll let Ranger222 provide further commentary here.
From the high school ranks, Kealvin (not celsius - JOKES) Davis, Koda Martin, and Zach Ledwik are all in the 6'4" to 6'6" range and can really run, with Martin in particular checking in with a massive frame. All three need a year or two of lifting, eating, and repeating, but should provide outstanding options for B.J. Anderson down the road.
On the defensive side of the ball, the front seven talent infusion continues, most notably on the defensive line. Tackles Zaycoven Henderson and DeShawn Washington represent the two highest rated DT's in the state, as well as guys that will be expected to provide immediate depth in Terry Price's rotation.
Defensive end may have seen the largest talent influx across the roster, as three highly rated prospects signed with A&M: Jarrett Johnson, Qualen Cunningham, and All-Freaking-Everything Myles Garrett. Cunningham is more of a pure weakside end, and Johnson will most likely slide to the strongside at some point, but Garrett will play everywhere, and very quickly, as the nation's #2 overall player is as big a coup as Kevin Sumlin has landed since arriving in College Station.
The back half of the defense is perhaps the only place this year's class falls short of a true A+, as linebackers Otoro Alaka and Josh Walker are fine prospects, but A&M really could have used one more player here, especially as it became clear early last fall that Hoza Scott was bound for
trade school community college.
Cornerback/safety hybrids Armani Watts and Nick Harvey bring what should be instant depth to a secondary sorely in need of reinforcements, and under-the-radar free safety Donovan Wilson lacks elite top end speed, but A&M fans will take 4.7 recognition of a wheel route all day at this point. As with linebacker, the Aggie coaches desired one more member of the secondary group, but combined with the 2013 recruiting class (and hopefully some semblance of a pass rush), these three should provide immediate help.
The lack of signing day surprises, combined with the late loss of Dylan Sumner-Gardner to, ah, Boise St. ends this recruiting cycle on a bit of a down note; however, the playmaking potential of this class is unparalleled in the previous two decades of A&M recruiting, and the early returns from Kyle Allen, Zay Henderson, Speedy Noil, and the JUCO offensive linemen - all of whom are already working out on campus - are outstanding.
Aggie fans have certainly come a long way from the dark days of the mid-aughts, when off seasons were spent convincing themselves that yes, if only we cut out soda and our kickers learn to bench press 450, certainly we will compete for national championships. There are no guarantees in this class, other than a few kids finding new and exciting ways in which not to contribute, but the overall talent level continues to dramatically increase under Kevin Sumlin, and that is a harbinger of very, very good things for A&M football.
Here's one more look at the 2014 signees: