The dog days of summer are upon us, which can only mean Kevin Sumlin is following up his extraordinary recruiting prowess of the past few years, adding depth, and skill, and speed, and . . . crap.
Ok, so losing the nation's top prospect is not awesome, but at least A&M has some momentum on the offensive side of the ball, as last I heard record-setting Navasota wide receiver Tren'Davian Dickson is a heavy Aggie lean, and - I'm sorry, what?
Surely John Cavis' reputation is beginning to pay off on the defensive side of the ball?
Fine, so it appears the new A&M hires on both sides of the ball are taking a little bit of time to gain inroads with some of the state's top prospects. Thankfully, the 2016 recruiting class is a deep one, and Texags' own Billy Liucci has recently released his yearly staple, the Top 44.
In either a sign of the times, or a sign of the coming apocalypse, the Top 10 features no Aggies or Longhorns, but does include Houston, Baylor, TCU, and Stanford pledges. (Aggie fans can at least take solace in Greg Little and Tyrie Cleveland's name formerly gracing the A&M commit list.) With 6 A&M Commits, 3 LSU Commits, 3 Alabama Commits, and 2 Longhorn commits, the state's top talent is spreading itself a bit more thin this cycle.
So what, exactly, is going on here?
1. Tom Herman is shaking up the state.
Give the Midwest transplant his due: he's not just resting on his Ohio State laurels and waiting for the Texas job to come open in 2 years. The U of H head man has only two Top 44 pledges thus far, but Ed Oliver happens to be the #3 player in the state, and his early evaluations and tireless recruiting have made the rest of the state pick up their game quite a bit.
2. Baylor and TCU aren't going away.
Despite any sort of "competitive football history to speak of" and stadiums that regularly feature less humanity than a singular Kyle Field end zone, rest assured Art Briles and Gary Patterson are canvassing the state, looking for 2A quarterbacks and backup punters they can turn into Davey O'Brien and Lombardi award winners.
Despite press conferences that would suggest they are controlled by non-English speaking robots, Patterson and Briles are brilliant football minds and evaluators, and if they ever buried the hatchet to coach together, might even be able to get a Big 12 team into the playoff.
3. High school kids are eating this competitive balance up.
With the unrelenting growth of social media, high school kids are only too happy to play the game the seedier side of college fanbases encourage. (Reminder: DON'T TWEET AT RECRUITS AND PLAYERS. IT'S CREEPY AND YOU'RE OLD AND AWKWARD, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.)
While some of us may pine for the old days of "shutting down my recruitment" and "not taking any more visits", the gilded twitter age is upon us and probably only going to increase the chaos.
As summer draws to a close and Fall camp whispers begin, who's left on Liucci's 44 that A&M is after?
#1. Greg Little A&M will battle the rest of the country, the NFL, and several Australian-rules football teams for the #1 offensive lineman in the country.
#2 Brandon Jones Ranked by many as the #1 safety in the country, Jones has been leaning towards the Aggies throughout the recruiting process.
#4 Eric Monroe Just the latest in a long line of Texas kids pledged to LSU. Look for Monroe to show up in College Station for a visit at some point this fall.
#6 Tyrie Cleveland An absurd athlete, Cleveland will be a priority for new recievers coach Aaron Moorehead until signing day.
#11 Jeffrey McCullough The Houston-area linebacker looks to be a classic A&M-Texas recruiting battle, unless Hugh Freeze decides to open a car dealership in the greater Aldine area.
#12 Chris Daniels Mark Hagen is hot on the trail of the explosive defensive tackle, assuming Mark Hagen is alive.
#15 Jean Delance With the loss of Greg Little, A&M needs another true tackle, and it appears to be a 3-way race between the Aggies, Alabama and OU.
Other key targets in the Top 44 include running back Devwah Whaley, cornerback Eric Cuffee, and defensive tackle Ross Blacklock. This year, more than most, it appears the top recruits are taking a wait-and-see attitude with several of the region's top programs.
No pressure, coaches.