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Column: Shoes to fill

Drew Chambers: The signees have swag, but they have a strong act to follow

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 23:02


Counting up arbitrary ratings assigned to high-school athletes might be fun, but until we see this group on the field we won’t know a thing. Not every flashy recruit pans out, and sometimes that undersized, un-recruited wide receiver turns out to be the real deal. Just ask Ryan Swope and the recruiting class of 2009.

This outgoing group of seniors flew under the radar as they entered A&M, but they turned the Aggie football program around (hopefully) for good and without them none of the newfound excitement for Aggie football would have been possible.

Now, the incoming class of 2013 recruits will have huge shoes to fill as key contributors graduate on both sides of the ball.

With the exception of Christine Michael, the recruiting class of 2009 didn’t look very promising., but now this overlooked, underrepresented and underwhelming recruiting class has made Aggie football history.

When the recruiting class of 2009 helped lead the Aggies to the Cotton Bowl in 2010, many of us thought this was the beginning of a new national contending football team. 2011 turned into a year of disappointment and, though 2012 was a resounding success, this class leaves without a conference title or national championship. They leave behind a legacy nonetheless.

Despite Swope’s low ranking coming in, he proved all the critics and skeptics wrong and went on to set the school’s career receiving yardage record (3117), single-season catches (89) and had on-the-field intangibles that were nightmares for the opposing defense.

In Michael’s first two years at A&M, he was a force to be reckoned, though injuries slowed him down. Despite his lack of playing time the past two years, he may still prove to be an above average running back in the NFL.

Although redshirt freshman sensation Johnny Manziel led the team in 2012, center Patrick Lewis shouldered some of the leadership responsibilities, particularly in Manziel’s first few starts. Lewis controlled the tempo as well as the offensive line with grit and determination to set up Manziel’s Heisman season performance.

Other key contributors to the recent Aggie’s success from the 2009 recruiting class include punter Ryan Epperson, receivers Uzoma Nwachkwu and Kenric McNeal as well as defensive backs Dustin Harris and Steven Terrell.

There is not enough time to adequately recognize each team member and show our appreciation for the time and hard work they gave to us here in Aggieland.

The 2013 recruiting class walks in with swag, but will it ascend to and overcome the expectations that 2009’s recruits have left for them?

I know you’ve heard the excitement and cheers as recruits such as Ricky Seals-Jones, Justin Manning, LaQuivionte Gonzalez and many others have signed, but these are all just names to us now. We don’t know how things will turn out. There are plenty of examples throughout the team’s history that prove the value of a class is not all about rankings or hype. There’s no way to tell who’s going to succeed and who’s going to fall, because it's about who will step up.

With Sumlin to lead and mold these young minds; with traditions of honor, loyalty, respect, excellence, integrity, leadership and selfless service; and with the natural talent that these boys come in with, A&M has nothing to be worried about. But the question is, who will shine?

To the signees: enjoy the ride, work hard, welcome to Aggieland and Gig 'em!

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