Kevin Sumlin came in front of the press today to talk about the 2015 recruiting class, ranked #12 nationally by 247Sports' Composite. Sumlin stated that his main goal for this class was to add athleticism and depth to the roster, because "[The SEC is] more than just a talent league. It's a talent and depth league." Out of Texas A&M's twenty-two recruits from the 2014 recruiting class, fourteen saw the field.
At quarterback, Texas A&M added 5-star Kyler Murray, whose recruitment process highlighted the use of a team's depth chart as a recruiting tool. "Some maybe even said (Kyler) would start," said Sumlin regarding the pitch other teams were using during Kyler's recruitment.
Sumlin was clear that he and Kyler had discussed the depth chart at A&M, and they'd had continued dialogue throughout the recruiting process on Kyler's ability to compete for the #1 spot at A&M. Sumlin made it clear today that with Texas A&M only having two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, there was no doubt that Kyler Murray will not be redshirting his freshman year. Murray will get playing time regardless of who the starter is against Arizona State in week one. "He understands competition and what this program is built on," said Sumlin, and "there's no better example of that than the (quarterback changes) last year."
Sumlin made it clear that he won't promise a starting position to any recruit, regardless of their talent level. While normally that kind of statement is regarded as 'coach speak,' Sumlin stated that A&M "didn't even promise Myles Garrett he would start, which was hard for me to bite my tongue on!"
If you win the starting job against Arizona State you've got to keep competing, because the other guy isn't going to give in; if you don't win it, you've got to keep competing because you're only one play away.
Sumlin believes that in the end, Kyler Murray chose Texas A&M over other suitors "for all the right reasons," and that his path to being a starter was actually harder when he first committed while Kenny Hill was on the roster, than it is now.
Kyler's a guy that isn't afraid of competition. You don't win 43 games in a row and be afraid of not playing. He won three state championships. That was never a situation. The conversations were all about competing. You've got one less guy to compete with now than when you committed here. That made sense to him and to everybody.
Defensively, the off-season question circled around whether or not the presence of new Defensive Coordinator, John Chavis, would be enough to help the Aggies land and keep commitments from highly-ranked recruiting targets.
"It's obvious John's done a great job since he's been here," said Sumlin regarding Chavis' ability to help recruit since his departure from LSU. "Some guys we got in late and some guys we got in-homes and had a chance. We were able to solidify things with other players. He's already had an impact on recruiting and I look for that to continue."
The commitment of Daylon Mack to A&M seemed more likely during the week as reports that he informed his other top choices, Texas Christian and the University of Texas, that he would not be signing with them. It's known now that Mack gave Sumlin and Chavis a silent commitment during their official visit last Sunday.
He came on his official visit and when he left that Sunday, it's out now, he told me he was coming. I kept my end of the bargain - by now you know I keep secrets pretty well.
In his situation, defensively, schematically, from a coach who has a track record of playing not good defense but great defense and placing guys in the National Football League, he saw where the situation at Texas A&M got better for him personally. Again, he came here for all the right reasons.
Sumlin made it a point throughout this press conference to highlight the importance of players whose earlier commitments to A&M were overshadowed recently by the drama churned out while following Daylon Mack's and Kyler Murray's recruitments. Sumlin on this year's defensive back class:
Justin Evans was the No. 2 junior college free safety in the country and could have an immediate impact; Justin Dunning is a 6-4, 205-pound guy that's what you're looking for. He's got real skills that can do a lot of things for us. Really the big, big prototypical safety you're looking for.
Roney Elam doesn't get a lot of hype, but if you look at his recruitment it was us and LSU. He's a 6-2 guy that can play both, has range, can play corner; Larry Pryor, like Justin Dunning, was extremely highly recruited but made his commitment early, never wavered.
A lot of these guys that came down to the end get a lot of attention, but we need to go back and look at the guys that stuck to their commitment because everyone was recruiting them and they stuck to it. They could've gone anywhere they wanted, but because they (made their choice) early, they didn't get a lot of pub - but I think they will when they hit campus.
In the linebacker corps, Sumlin discussed the addition of Claude George, stating the A&M coaching staff had caught a break on him by meeting him during a camp in Houston. George is currently "working out, a 235-pound guy, long, and rangy," and "he's going to have an impact early," said Sumlin on George.
A&M also picked up Cedar Hill OLB, Richard Moore, as a mid-year signee. "Being here mid-year will help him because he's a 210-pound guy now, he makes tackles all over the place, play after play after play, high-motor, high-intensity," said Sumlin on Moore.
Plano East OLB/WDE, Landis Durham is another "big body we need at linebacker," who is "coming in here at 230-something so they can get in the 240's during their career."
Texas A&M's final linebacker commitment, Riley Garner, had a major non-football related head injury during the off-season, and is expected to make a full recovery. Garner's offer came prior to the injury, and Sumlin spoke to his belief that Garner, who may never play another down again in his life, will have his scholarship offer honored, because "commitment is a two-way street."
As juniors going into their senior year, if you're committed to us and you're going to come to our school and play, we're going to stand behind the commitment. If it's egregious or against the law or a grade issue, that's the only way we're going to pull (an offer). We've had players come here and be injured, some of whom could never play again.
When that happened we had a bit more information because he was here in town. We were able to get information to make sure everything was going to be OK. We were able to communicate with the family about whether he was going to play or not - we didn't have anything to do with it, just wanted to be kept abreast of the situation. He's all healed up and I think he's going to be a great fit for us. He's bigger than people think and he's a lot more athletic than people think. He was across the street with a 4.0 GPA.
Texas A&M added backs Jay Bradford and Kendall Bussey today, both of which are sub 6' backs that Sumlin believes can make an impact on the run game.
Jay, he's an unbelievably explosive guy. He long-jumped 24 feet last year at the state meet. He's almost a 48-foot triple jumper, which, I don't know if anybody in this room can do that. I know I can't. He's just a tremendously explosive guy. He's into the 10.3s as a 100-meter guy. Just an explosive, gifted guy. He's all of about 5-11 and averages about three dunks a game and likes to rebound. He can't shoot at all and he's the only 5-11 guy I know who they put in to play defense and rebound. So we eliminated basketball as a possibility, but he is a great track guy.
Kendall Bussey is a shorter, stockier, strong guy, 5-9, 205 when he was on his visit. He had a lot of choices and committed to Nebraska first, then Tennessee. Those guys have had a few good running backs in both those places. We jumped in there and Coach Terry Joseph had a relationship with the family and the school and we just kept it going; he came out and he liked it. He's a guy we were really fortunate to get here at the end, understands the depth chart, understands how we use him.
Sumlin was asked about the insight he could provide regarding Johnny Manziel entering treatment this week.
He's part of our family and we're going to support him like we supported him here. We support him and his family at this point. I'm not going to get into any conversations we've had at this point, but it's a step he's decided to take and a step his family's decided to take and something I personally support and, as a university, we support.
Coach Kevin Sumlin said today that his coaches will be taking a break to be with their families, leaving this 2015 recruiting class in the books before getting to scheme development and spring practice preparation next Monday. Whether or not this was one of Kevin Sumlin's most stressful recruiting periods remains unknown, but as he stated today, "if I didn't like it, I wouldn't be here."
Click here for complete audio and transcript.