That magical time of year where swimming pools are filled with children laughing, southern parking lots become convection ovens, and Nick Saban
writes another round of checks to Satan flexes his recruiting muscle.
Kevin Sumlin and his reorganized staff have been on quite a tear the past few weeks, with six prospects giving their verbal pledge to the Aggies since the calendar turned to June. Tyrel Dodson, a linebacker out of Tennessee, was the first domino to fall when he called Coach Chavis to commit on June 5th. At 6'2", 235 pounds, Dodson is a true MIKE linebacker headed to a roster in desperate need at that position.
Two days later, Louisiana offensive lineman Colton Prater turned down offers from Ole Miss, TCU, and Mississippi State to join the A&M class. Prater is a mauler of an interior lineman, giving a nice compliment to the plethora of offensive tackle prospects currently on campus.
24 hours later, the #YESSIR beacon sounded again as Kendrick Rogers jumped on an A&M offer after impressing wide receivers' coach Aaron Moorehead at camp. One of the more underrated players in the class, Rogers is 6'5", 195, and showed impressive speed and athleticism from a bigger wideout. The Aggies will have to hold off TCU, who is currently showing him the full-court press.
Alton Robinson, a decidedly Chavis-style defensive end, picked A&M over Michigan and Alabama on June 11th. Similar to fellow A&M commit Mark Jackson, Robinson is an undersized defensive end with a great first step.
Perhaps the biggest surprise came in the form of Irvin Smith, a dual-threat tight end out of New Orleans. Smith checks in at 6'4", 230 pounds, and picked A&M over offers from just about everyone including Alabama, Florida, LSU, Michigan, and - as per usual - Texas.
The June run continued this Monday with the addition of Quartney Davis from Langham Creek in Houston. The 6'2", 190 pound wide receiver represents yet another A&M camp standout, and committed shortly after earning his offer from the Aggie staff. While not as heavily recruited as some of the other receivers A&M is currently pursuing, Davis still boasted offers from Arkansas, Houston, Michigan State, and Oklahoma State prior to his senior year.
After the recent flurry, A&M currently sits at 14 commitments, and although the star power is a bit lacking when compared to Sumlin's last few classes, in some ways this year might represent a better fit of prospects. So what does the current recruiting landscape look like moving forward?
1. There appears to be an actual plan on defense.
As enjoyable as the strategy of "Let's take a 6'2" press corner, AND a 5'9" finesse corner in the same class!" was, the grab-bag days thankfully appear to be over. Mark Snyder seemingly gravitated towards whichever highly-rated prospect happened to be listening, with little regard how they might fit into his various (ill-fated) schemes.
Under John Chavis, the strategy seems a bit more clear: attack. The new A&M defensive coordinator went out and found two guys in Mark Jackson and Alton Robinson that look suspiciously like LSU defensive ends of the past few years; not that big, but a hell of a first step.
At cornerback, Travon Fuller and Charles Oliver do exactly what every LSU cornerback has been known for under Chavis: press, turn, and run.
There may be a head-scratch moment or two under this defensive staff, but rest assured if players are offered this early they're a priority, and they most likely fit within the simplified, aggressive scheme A&M will be running.
2. LSU and Alabama are going to continue to be a problem.
Unfortunately, no matter how incredible Chavis might be able to X&O, his scheme is only as good as the players running it, and there are a disturbing number of players with A&M offers currently pledged to the Tigers and Crimson Tide - including all five Texans headed to the 2 SEC West powers.
This recruiting cycle is shaping up to be a battle in the trenches, and one of the biggest reasons why is:
3. Ed Orgeron is employed by LSU.
You might remember 'Coach O' from stories like ripping his shirt off and challenging the entire Ole Miss football team to fight him (RIP Wild Boys) or perhaps guiding the flaming wreckage of Lane Kiffin's USC squad to a 6-2 record down the stretch in 2013. Either way, the main thing to remember is wherever he goes, the man gets ALL THE RECRUITS, and this is before he was working in his home state with no real governmental jurisdiction, power, or rules.
(Seriously, read Stephen Godfrey on Orgeron here if you haven't yet. The man is a treasure.)
Orgeron is, bar none, the best recruiter in college football. He's currently proving that by recruiting at an absurdly high level, in spite of the fact that LSU's new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is moving to a 3-4, and, more alarmingly, is actually Kevin Steele. (Steele was last seen dodging molotov cocktails thrown by a drunken Dana Holgerson as his Clemson defense gave up 70 in the 2012 Orange Bowl. ALLEGEDLY.)
The coaches currently responsible for defensive tackle recruiting at A&M and Texas - Mark Hagen and Brick Haley, respectively - have 22 offers out at the position, and a combined zero verbal commitments. Again, LSU is moving to a 3-4, and somehow Orgeron is stacking elite defensive tackles the way Cam Cameron stacks horribly mediocre quarterback play.
Overall, the reconfigured A&M staff appears to have a plan in place, and is moving forward on individuals they feel can help, highly-rated or not. This strategy will most likely lead to a few more under-the-redar types, and hopefully a lot less attrition down the road.