Texas A&M signed 21 players on Wednesday, and while there were some coveted targets that went elsewhere, here are three players on each side of the ball that could end up being big time hits.
Quartney Davis, wide receiver
Davis possesses good size (6'2", 200 lbs) and in a spread offense, it's natural to single out a wide receiver as someone who could make an immediate impact. While the Aggies signed a couple other receivers, Davis is the most ready to dominate.
He is a long strider with good enough speed, but what really impresses me is the way defenders just seem to fall off of him. He has surprisingly nimble feet for a guy over six feet tall, and it makes him very versatile. His speed allowed him to win on several deep routes, but he also proved very adept at catching short passes and making a few people miss. Being able to do both, and have good size, should enable him to find a spot in Noel Mazzone's offense pretty quickly.
He spent his high school career lining up out wide on the right side. I would look for Davis to see significant time this season either backing up Josh Reynolds or competing for the other outside receiver spot that was played by Speedy Noil and Damion Ratley this past year.
Aaron Hansford, athlete
This one is exciting for multiple reasons. First of all, it was one of the few late successes the Aggies had in recruiting battles this year. On a signing day that felt like a funeral at times, Hansford's commitment was a huge positive.
But beyond the general happiness of grabbing a four star prospect on signing day, Hansford brings a unique skill set that A&M should be able to use. While he is listed as both a linebacker and a wide receiver, I think he will be a perfect fit as a versatile H-back and/or flex tight end/inside receiver in Noel Mazzone's offense.
A&M lacked much of a threat from that position this year, despite keeping one on the field for quite a large chunk of the season. With all due respect to Caden Smith, the main reason he was on the field so much was because A&M couldn't trust their offensive line to protect their quarterback, so he was an extra blocker.
But now, with a big-time athlete capable of filling that role, it gives A&M a lot more flexibility. Yes, he can block, but he can also be a receiving threat. The model to look at in Mazzone's UCLA offense last year is Thomas Duarte. Duarte caught 53 passes for 872 yards last year as a junior. Hansford is a similar size with a similar skill set and was no doubt a guy that Mazzone wanted.
Trayveon Williams, running back
Williams is small (5'9", 185 lbs), and because of that I don't necessarily think he'll ever be an every-down back in the SEC, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for with balance, speed, and surprising strength.
A&M's rushing attack last year lacked a speedy, shifty element. Tra Carson did a fantastic job as a bruiser, and James White (who is returning) had an up and down season as a backup. Keith Ford, who sat out 2015 after transferring from Oklahoma, is being counted on to provide production at running back, but I still like the idea of having some speed and quickness available in a smaller package when running these one-back offenses.
Noel Mazzone has said that his goal is to get the ball to his players in a situation where they only need to make one defender miss and then they're free. Out of all the A&M running backs (also including Kendall Bussey, who redshirted in 2015 while recovering from a knee injury), Williams seems to be best suited to make one man miss and then run very fast.
Justin Madubuike, defensive end
As we switch to defense, the natural place to start would be with the defensive end. A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis has talked about how important defensive ends are in his scheme, and A&M has the best tandem in the country (Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall) returning in 2016.
But after they leave, who will keep the quarterback pressures coming? Justin Madubuike has a great shot. He arrives with enough size to play from day one (already 6'3", 260 lbs), and he has elite quickness and burst off the line. In fact, his first step out of his three point stance is comparable to Daylon Mack's in just how quickly he bursts through.
I believe he'll immediately become the third best defensive lineman on the team and log plenty of playing time right away. His combination of size and quickness is pretty rare.
Travon Fuller, cornerback
Here's why I like Fuller, despite the fact that he's small and might not impact the team for a couple years: he has incredible ball skills. Time and time again, he is able to go up and not only find the ball, but make a great play on it.
If you look at his size and the fact that he is pretty light in the britches, to me he really compares to Devante Harris. He is very fluid when he runs and moves. Everything looks effortless. So in the best case view on him, I like to imagine that he will be like Devante Harris but with better ball skills.
Any Aggie fan will tell you that for years now, it sure feels like the players in the secondary have had trouble actually making a play on the ball even when the coverage is good. While Fuller isn't rated as highly as others, he really seems like the type that could make an impact far bigger than his rating suggests.
Braden Mann, kicker
Let's throw a little love and appreciation towards the kickers, shall we? Kickers are usually completely overlooked on signing day (and in life... until they screw up). But sometimes, they're worth talking about.
The Aggies have had a few years of solid to great kicking (some issues in 2014 notwithstanding) but with Taylor Bertolet graduating, it is important to get a solid replacement on board. And Braden Mann is as solid as you could ask for.
Making multiple All-American teams, Mann is widely considered to be one of the best high school kickers in the country. But what makes his signing even more important is the fact that he was able to graduate early and will work with the team this spring. If he can kick well in the spring, there's a great chance that the Aggies have a very important position locked up for the next four years.