Many of us who followed the recruiting class of 2015 observed tense battles between the University of Texas and Texas A&M for key players. The Longhorns were able to sign Kris Boyd, Holton Hill and Malik Jefferson, while the Aggies landed Daylon Mack and Kyler Murray, among others.
Follow the status of the top 116 prospects in the state of Texas for the 2016 class.
Rivals.com analyst Rob Cassidy provided some insight into how the class of 2016 is shaping up, and from his view (and from others), the Longhorns are currently operating from behind.
It's a reality that the once-dominant Longhorns have finished second to Texas A&M in the state recruiting rankings each of the last three years. That, in itself, isn't a problem, the thought that the trend may well repeat itself for the foreseeable future is where the worry arrives. Cedar Hill (Texas) High School head coach Joey McGuire sends multiple players to major college programs annually. He's as familiar with the recruiting landscape in the state as anyone. And, according to him, the pecking order in Lone Star territory isn't what it once was.
This, it seems, is a new day - a day where, early in the cycle as it may be, Texas' 2016 recruiting class ranks 56th nationally.
Recruiting rankings are subjective, but as it stands Texas A&M is landing key targets coveted by both the Aggies and the Longhorns. Most recently, the Aggies earned a commitment from four-star McKinney North defensive end Justin Madubuike, who was considered by many to be favoring the Longhorns.
Perhaps the most interesting quote from the article comes from someone who doesn't have a dog in the fight: four-star tight end (and current Stanford commit) Kaden Smith.
Regardless of the coach, UT's reputation among top-level recruits will continue to shift in one direction or another. Where it stands now depends on whom you ask. Four-star tight end Kaden Smith is the No. 5 prospect in Texas and is committed to Stanford. It makes him a uniquely unbiased observer.
"My opinion? A&M is on top in the state of Texas right now," Smith said. "They are leading with, like, Baylor. I think all the recruits like A&M. They get the best recruits right now. Kids want to play against Bama and Ole Miss, not Texas Tech and Kansas. I've been to UT and A&M, and it just seemed like A&M had everything together in football. They have a plan. They know what they want to do."
The recruiting season is far from over and will heat up in the coming months. The Aggies-Longhorn battles really hit their apex last year on December 19th when Malik Jefferson committed to the Longhorns. That one domino triggered an anxious month-and-a-half for fans of both teams as key targets made decisions.
Rivals.com currently ranks A&M at #21 and Texas at #56 for the current recruiting class.