Recruits look to become signees
National Signing Day time of triumph for Sumlin, sign of continued program renaissance
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 21:02
The speculation, the verbal commitments, the defections, the tension — it all ends Wednesday when the 2013 Texas A&M football recruits become signees on National Signing Day.
Much has been made of head coach Kevin Sumlin’s recruiting class, which has wedged itself into the Top 10 of most major recruiting sites’ class rankings. The class — as it stands entering Wednesday and barring any major defections or additions — could stand among the all-time best batch of signees in program history.
As of Tuesday night, 32 recruits were verbally committed to A&M, making Sumlin’s recruiting class the largest in the country. The eight January enrollees announced were counted to the 2012 class, keeping A&M safely under the SEC rule that limits teams to 25 signees per year. Fifteen of the 32 projected signees earned four-star designations by Rivals.com, up from seven in 2012.
Some players pledged their intent to sign with A&M more than a year ago and others flipped their commitment to play in College Station within the last week, but until they sign letters of intent Wednesday, all analysis amounts to little more than conjecture. By the time the dust settles on signing day, for better or for worse, Sumlin and his staff will have cemented the look of the 2013 roster as spring camp approaches.
The heightened profile of the A&M class has drawn the eye of sports analysts outside Aggieland. ESPN’s Pedro Gomez will be on hand in College Station to report live on recruiting developments and Fox Sports Southwest will televise signing day news live from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
The tried-and-true recruiting draw of national media exposure and an 11-win season may have paid its dividends for the 2012 A&M football team — and not to forget the quarterback who brought home the Heisman Trophy.
Before a 41-13 Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma, Sumlin said A&M has taken the ambiguity out of regional recruiting.
“I think there’s a clear choice in the region,” Sumlin said.
Many point to the Aggies’ shift to the Southeastern Conference when diagnosing the recruiting bump from past seasons. From a potential recruits’ viewpoint, Sumlin said the SEC speaks for itself.
“I think what we have shown in one year in the SEC is that not only do we belong and that we can compete, but that we can win,” Sumlin said.
But it’s sustained success over time, Sumlin said, that is as or more important than any one season.
“I think people make a lot out of one game when it comes to recruiting,” Sumlin said. “What does happen is over time you build your brand.”
ESPN national recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said the SEC has made a clear impression on A&M recruiting.
"Bottom line: A&M would be looked at differently by top recruits if they weren't in the SEC," Luginbill said.
Texas A&M co-offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney said Sumlin has had a bigger impact than he is credited for. Before the season began and Johnny Manziel became a household name, Sumlin had already racked up 23 commitments from players around the country.
"It starts with Sumlin," McKinney said to Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated. "He's a player's coach, he understands what they go through at that particular age in their life. He does things to make those particular kids feel comfortable."
For all the work Sumlin has put in for the 2013 class, he still has his eye on two or three more undecided players by the end of the day for 2013 and has already secured seven commitments for 2014.