Sumlin, A&M ink consensus top five batch of signees
Published: Thursday, February 6, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 6, 2014 00:02
Kevin Sumlin and his coaching staff inked 22 players to National Letters of Intent Wednesday to play football at Texas A&M, leading to a consensus top-five signing class.
On national signing day the class lacked any surprises and instead addressed weaknesses on both sides of the ball.
The group is balanced with 11 offensive signees and 11 defensive signees, something Sumlin joked about looking planned. Among the 22 signees, 10 players were ranked among the ESPN 300 and 16 were ranked four or five-star recruits by ESPN.
“This is a class that I think addresses our needs across the board,” Sumlin said in a Wednesday press conference. “We have a plan of how we want to do things. We’ve lost some very talented players offensively this year and we’ve got to replace those. We had a depth issue last year on defense and I think the first attempt for us this year was to address those needs from an offensive line standpoint and the complete defense.”
The Aggies not only signed the top quarterback in the country as they seek a replacement for Johnny Manziel, but they also ventured out of their comfort zone to get him.
Kyle Allen from Scottsdale, Ariz., enters as a 6-foot-3, pro-style quarterback that will have a shot at the starting quarterback job immediately.
“Kyle Allen was coming whether Johnny was coming back or not,” Sumlin said. “His commitment was before that, which I think says something about Kyle Allen.”
The Aggie offense also got a boost at the receiver position for a second-straight year by signing Devante “Speedy” Noil, who is the nation’s top wide receiver prospect.
Both Noil and Allen signed early and are already enrolled in classes at A&M. Both players, along with three others, will participate in spring drills, which will begin Feb. 28, Sumlin announced Wednesday.
“Kyle [Allen’s] graduating early, making a statement that he wants to compete for the starting role, and Speedy also. Those guys made a decision to do that a while ago during the recruiting process,” Sumlin said. “It didn’t matter where they were going to school, they had that mindset that they were going to go there early and be ready to compete to play. It helps a lot.”
On defense, the Aggies addressed concerns about the pass rush by adding a player some are considering the top talent in the country at any position.
Listed at 6-foot-5, 250-pounds, Myles Garrett brings a pass rushing presence to the A&M defense that ranked No. 90 of 123 teams in the nation in sacks last season. What he also possesses is an intimidation factor that Sumlin could attest to when asked what he thought about Garrett upon watching him play and meeting him for the first time.
“As a football player? Really good,” Sumlin said. “I was even more impressed when I went to watch him play basketball two weeks ago. He took off his shirt after the game and he looks like a Batman costume. He’s put together like crazy. There’s a reason he’s ranked where he is.”
Garrett joined current freshman receiver Ricky Seals-Jones among the few players who Sumlin visited via the Swagcopter during their recruitment.
“The helicopter is still undefeated,” Sumlin said when reminded of it Wednesday. “We may need to use it more based on the way it’s going.”
To some, A&M’s biggest victory of the recruiting season came in recent weeks when Sumlin was able to flip two players committed to play for the Texas Longhorns. By swinging linebacker Otaro Alaka and defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson from new Longhorn head coach Charlie Strong, Sumlin and the Aggies were a popular topic in the state on signing day.
When asked Wednesday about Sumlin and A&M’s “coolness” within the state, including the use of the Swagcopter, Strong responded.
“The university speaks for itself,” Strong said. “We don’t need gadgets. We’re not going to be a gadget program.”
But regardless of gadgets, Sumlin said he is certain the Aggies still have a long way to go to catch up to Alabama and LSU who finished ahead of A&M in the class rankings.
“This is a place to start,” Sumlin said. “I saw somewhere today we were [ranked] fourth … We’re third in our own division. Not our league, our division. Are we gaining ground? I hope so. We’re doing the best we can right now.”