Wednesday night, I went to bed not even thinking about A&M Recruiting. But I woke up at 4:15 to a complete dumpster fire of a night for #gigemgang17. Since then, Texas A&M recruiting has been discussed on everything from Burnt Orange Nation (Hi Guys!) to Outside the Lines. You probably don't need another think piece about the state of our program, but that hasn't stopped us before.
- On Martell: I thought it was an odd choice to start building our class with an out of state QB as the pied piper, but hey... never look a gift QB in the mouth. Unless the gift QB has had one foot out the door for quite some time, I guess. Adam Gorney of rivals.com wrote a great article detailing how the relationship between A&M and Martell went south, which includes repeated references to Noel Mazzone's poor recent communication with Martell (presumably because of Martell's size). The story raises some interesting questions: Is a player really committed if they're taking visits? And if they are taking visits, how do you recruit that player's position without officially breaking ties? We don't know. Long story short, the Martell decommittment came as a surprise to no one. Best of luck to the kid.
- On Netherly: If his decommittment was really a result of Aaron Moorehead's tweet (we'll get to that in a second), then there's a .0001% chance that Moorehead can mend the fences and get back into contention. Martell and Netherly were planning on being roommates at A&M, so after Martell bounced Netherly was on thin ice. And much like Martell, Netherly had been taking visits -- including multiple trips to LSU. Would he have stuck if Moorehead was a stout member of team #NeverTweet? Maybe. Who knows.
- On Moorehead: I don't really disagree with anything he said, but come on. Recruiting is a sales business. If you tell one client to f*** off, others are going to hear about it and not want to do business with you. On a side note, the "I'd die for A&M football and defend it with my life" shtick works for current players, but it's not gonna fly with prospective recruits. Moorehead also inadvertently demonstrated one of the big hypocrisies of recruiting... preaching loyalty while simultaneously busting his ass to get non-A&M commits to flip to A&M. All in all, not a great day. Moorehead has to do better. I appreciate the apology, but come on man. Do better.
- On Tyjon Linsday: He was never coming to A&M, so him taking us out of contention isn't really news. He was just coming to the defense of his teammate. Sure, it's nice to see an A&M logo in an edit of his top 10, but he was never coming here.
What does it mean?
So... let's talk about the rest of the recruiting landscape: It ain't pretty. At best, most elite recruits are in a "wait and see" place with A&M. At worst, they've eliminated us already. The troubling thing is that we can't seem to adjust our strategy to reflect reality. We often operate as if we're coming off that 11 win season with the whole world looking at us, and it's just not working.
It's not the spring of 2013. Current recruits were 13 or 14 when that magical 2012 season happened, and since then we've had a smattering of eight win campaigns, late season swoons, high profile transfers, and off season controversy. We have to recognize that, and we have to get better at adjusting our pitch accordingly.
That's the bad news. Here's the "maybe OK" news: We're not used to this position.
Sumlin's MO has been to #grind all summer to lock in recruits, then do his best to hold on. That's not likely to happen this year, and maybe that's a good thing. We've been able to sell promise/potential/being "one player away" for a long time, and now that sales pitch is done. Right now, guys like Jeff Okudah, Baron Browning, and Marvin Wilson might not be too keen on A&M. But if we win 10 games...who knows what might happen.
Our recruiting class now firmly depends on our on field results, and this is the first year in Sumlin's tenure where that is the case.
My advice? Do your best to stop worrying about recruiting right now. There's nothing our coaches can do off the field to help this class. Yes, they'll build relationships, but players want less talk and more results (part of the reason Jim Turner has had success in OL recruiting? he's got the skins on the wall). Off season recruiting is all about style, it's all about hypotheticals, and it's all about potential depth charts. This year's strategy can't be about style.
This year has to be about substance.