A look at what to expect on National Signing Day in the defensive trenches.
The Aggies will return half of their four-man front in 2013 with Kirby Ennis and Julien Obioha. Spencer Nealy has graduated and Demontre Moore declared early for the NFL draft. Jonathan Mathis, who was the first defensive tackle off the bench, also graduated. The Ags haven't had a lot of depth up front defensively in a very long time so defensive line coach Terry Price needs some talent in this class; and needs it in a hurry.
Current Verbal Commitments
Isaiah Golden - This hoss from the small east Texas town of Carthage committed to the Aggies back in January of 2012. Checking in at 6'2" and over 300-pounds, Golden has the prototypical size to play in the A-gap or over the center. On film, his size, physicality,and overall athleticism is impressive. In reality, it should be illegal that he's playing 3A ball. As a senior, Isaiah recorded 76 tackles including 32 for a loss to go along with 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and even 3 rushing touchdowns.
2012 Honors: U.S. Army All-American, 3A Second Team All-State, 20-3A Defensive MVP
247: #6 DT, 4 stars
Rivals: #8 DT, 4 stars
Scout: #9 DT, 4 stars
ESPN: #20 DT, 4 stars
Justin Manning - The 6'2" 275-pound Manning is the perfect compliment to Isaiah Golden in a four-man front. Where Golden is big and physical and takes up blocks, Manning's speed and quickness off the ball make him an ideal 3-technique. As a senior at Kimball High, Justin had 76 tackles including 11 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss. The younger brother of former Oklahoma Sooner, Demarcus Granger, Manning was long considered a heavy OU lean. Kevin Sumlin and his staff simply outworked the Sooners for a kid they thought they had in the bag.
2012 Honors: U.S. Army All-American, 4A All-State Honorable Mention, 11-4A Defensive MVP
247: #9 DT, 4 stars
Rivals: #6 DT, 4 stars
Scout: #6 DT, 4 stars
ESPN: #9 DT, 4 stars
Hardreck Walker - The Spring Westfield tackle gives the Aggies three consensus four-stars at the position. Walker is 6'2" 280-pounds and is versatile enough to play both tackle positions. He chose the Ags over the likes of Arkansas, Auburn, Michigan, Missouri, and others. He recorded 38 tackles as a senior, including 4 sacks as well as falling on 3 fumbles.
2012 Honors: Offense-Defense All-American, 13-5A First Team All-District
247: #19 DT, 4 stars
Rivals: #19 DT, 4 stars
Scout: #30 DT, 4 stars
ESPN: #51 DT, 3 stars
Jay Arnold - The 6'3" 235-pound Arnold joins Rockwall Heath teammate Jordan Points as the two defensive ends in this class. Jay is a high school wrestler and also very big into MMA which he translates into toughness on the football field. He has the frame to put on good weight as well as good speed for his size.
2012 Honors: 12-5A Second Team All-District, 4A All-State Second Team All-Academic Team
247: #37 SDE, 3 stars
Rivals: #31 SED, 3 stars
Scout: #47 DE, 3 stars
ESPN: #37 DE, 4 stars
What To Watch For On Signing Day
All the drama for Aggies on signing day should focus from this group. Texas A&M has made a serious push in recent weeks for weak-side defensive ends Daeshon Hall from Lancaster, a Washington commit; and USC commit Torrodney Prevot. Both are consensus four-stars and top-25 players in the state of Texas. Reports are the Ags have a good shot at both prospects and they will make their final decisions on signing day.
When They Hit Campus
The Aggies have decent depth at strong-side defensive end, so expect Arnold to redshirt next year. The defensive tackles are a different story. As mentioned earlier, Terry Price is in need of immediate quality depth. Golden, Manning, and Walker will all come in and compete for playing time in year one. Don't be surprised if at least two of them see the field early and often next year.