Soccer, track teams land promising classes of signees
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 01:02
Texas A&M football head coach Kevin Sumlin wasn’t the only Aggie coach to enjoy National Signing Day on Wednesday. Track coach Pat Henry and soccer coach G Guerrerri hauled in strong recruiting classes on a day many associate with football.
For Guerrerri, the football team’s success isn’t an inhibitor of soccer prowess — it’s a sign of a strong athletic department.
“We’ve worked hard for the last 10 years on the recruiting trail and we’ve been trying to expand our brand nationally,” Guerrerri said on a Fox Sports Southwest National Signing Day broadcast. “The 10 years of work we did have pretty much been eclipsed in one year of Johnny Football. It’s a sign of excellence athletically across the board — look at all of our teams ranked nationally.”
Soccer landed six recruits while track fielded a 16-member class — nine men and seven women.
Henry said on Fox Sports Southwest that he was pleased with the way recruiting shaped up.
“Each signing class is about fitting the needs of the program while finding the best available talent,” Henry said. “I’m happy with that we’ve done recruiting-wise this year.”
Both coaches emphasized the importance of a balance between need-based recruiting and recruiting purely based on talent. For Guerrerri, the graduation of the 2012 senior class means his six will need to make a splash immediately.
“We graduated a big class with great players and incredible people and these are kids who are going to have to come in and hit the ground running,” Guerrerri said.
The team concept in collegiate track and field was a point of emphasis in Henry’s recruiting, though he stressed the need for individual talent.
“We’re going to recruit great individuals, develop them into better athletes and then we’ll all get on the same stage and compete at the same time and someone adds up the score, and that’s a team,” Henry said.
Guerrerri said goalkeeper Taylor Saucier has been a consummate winner while defender Grace Wright — of A&M Consolidated high school has a “great pedigree.” Of Elizabeth Keester, Guerrerri said the forward will bring “strike power to the attack” and a game presence that can be “kind of mean when she wants to be.”
“It is a group that strengthens our attack, midfield, back line, and our goalkeeping positions,” Guerrerri said. “These six student-athletes are all accomplished players who bring some very special attributes to our Aggie soccer team.”
Both coaches said the transition to the Southeastern Conference has changed the landscape of A&M sports.
Speaking from his experience as head coach at LSU, Henry said the conference’s depth is its strength.
“The difference between the SEC and the Big 12 is the No. 7 team might be as good as the No. 2 and No. 3 team,” Henry said. “It’s a tough league but we know how to compete in that league. “
Guerrerri said his players’ status as “rock stars on this campus” is a selling point for potential recruits.
“A lot of these names that might fly under the radar for Aggies [on signing day] will be household names in a couple of years,” Guerrerri said. “We don’t sign kids that aren’t big time players and extraordinary in a lot of things.”
Guerrerri’s soccer team kicks off spring soccer this weekend against Houston while the track team and Henry prepare for this weekend’s Texas A&M Invitational and the looming SEC championships.