Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
A look at what to expect from the linebacker position on national signing day.
The Aggies return only Steven Jenkins as a starter in their linebacking corp in 2013. Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart have used up their eligibility and are moving on to the NFL. On top of that, backup linebackers Michael Richardson and Jordan Richmond's status with the team going forward is uncertain. Richardson suffered a neck injury in the Sam Houston State game and Richmond has had some off the field issues. The position is in such dire need of an influx of talent, the Aggie staff wanted to bring in as many as seven commitments in this recruiting class. They were able to sign three early enrollees in December: Tommy Sanders, Brett Wade, and Reggie Chevis. Junior college transfer Kenny Flowers was also going to sign with the Aggies but failed to graduate mid-term at Hutchinson Community College. New linebacker coach Mark Hagen has three more guys he looks to sign on Wednesday.
Current Verbal Commitments
Jordan Mastrogiovanni - The Aggies originally lost out on "The Maestro" to the Oklahoma Sooners over the summer. However, two days after watching Bob Stoops and Co. get drubbed in the Cotton Bowl, Mastrogiovanni decided he wanted to wear a darker maroon in college. The 6'3" 225-pound Mike linebacker from Dallas Jesuit has the physicality that is crucial for the position but also possesses very good speed. It's the speed that allows him to play sideline to sideline and have success shooting gaps and blowing up running plays.
2012 Honors: 5A All-State Honorable Mention, 9-5A First Team All-District
247: #32 ILB, 3 stars
Rivals: #30 ILB, 3 stars
Scout: #20 MLB, 3 stars
ESPN: #7 ILB, 4 stars
Darian Claiborne - An athletic and versatile linebacker who can play either Sam or Will in Mark Snyder's 4-3 scheme. To speak to his athleticism, Darian also played quarterback at Port Allen High School in Louisiana. His senior season he completed 76 passes for 1,338 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding 919 yards on the ground and 7 more scores. Defensively, he had 59 tackles, including 9 for a loss and 3 picks. Darian has the speed and quickness to reduce his liability in coverage but he also plays physical and is excellent in run support. According to Geaux247.com, he is the #15 overall rated player in Louisiana.
2012 Honors: Offense-Defense All-American, LSWA First Team All-State, 7-3A First Team All-District (LB), 7-3A Second Team All-District (QB)
247: #32 OLB, 3 stars
Rivals: #19 ILB, 3 stars
Scout: #14 MLB, 4 stars
ESPN: #35 ILB, 3 stars
Shaan Washington - I went back and forth on if Washington should be included in the linebacker group. He's listed by some recruiting services as an "athlete" and as a safety in others. In the end, I decided to go with the position he plays in high school, and where I think he ends up in college. At 6'3" 210-pounds, Washington played linebacker, wide receiver and a little safety for Alexandria High School in Louisiana. He has the frame to add plenty of good weight and is already a punishing hitter and the athleticism to play sideline to sideline. According to Geaux247.com, Shaan is rated as the #27 player in Louisiana.
2012 Honors: LFCA Second Team All-State, LSWA 4A All-State Honorable Mention, 3-4A Defensive MVP, 3-4A First Team All-District
247: #40 ATH, 3 stars
Rivals: #68 ATH, 3 stars
Scout: #83 S, 3 stars
ESPN: #70 S, 3 stars
What To Watch For On Signing Day
The only target still available is consensus four-star Isaac Savaiinaea from Honolulu, HI. The Aggie staff put a lot of man hours into recruiting "The Savage" but reportedly backed off when he pushed his decision to signing day. Barring a major surprise, the Ags will sign Mastrogiovanni, Claiborne, and Washingtion, and only those three.
When They Hit Campus
Mastrogiovanni will step in with early enrollee Reggie Chevis and compete to back up Donnie Baggs at Mike linebacker. Claiborne will do the same with Brett Wade at Will to backup Steven Jenkins. Washington on the other hand, has the opportunity to come in and compete for early playing time with the only other Sam linebacker on the roster, early enrollee Tommy Sanders. As discussed, depth at linebacker is a major concern right now. Don't expect many redshirts out of this group as they will all have a chance to contribute next season. If not at linebacker, then on special teams.