Saturday, January 21, 2012
Viewing Texas A&M Through the Eyes of a Recruit
Now that the football season has ended, I thought this would be a good time to talk about something I enjoy talking about: recruiting. National signing day for recruits is a few short weeks away. Recruiting season is in full swing. The lack of success on the field over the last decade has led me to be perpetually overexcited for the incoming class of recruits. Each group seems to have the missing pieces that will lead Texas A&M back to glory. As we all know, that hasn’t quite panned out as hoped. But it still provides us with endless fodder for debates, as only speculating on the future can.
I want to take a look at our university through the eyes of a highly sought-after recruit. Why would a star football player from the state of Texas choose A&M? Why would he rather play for the Aggies than the Longhorns, Tigers, or Sooners? What sets our school apart from the rest?
I will focus on the following selling points of Texas A&M: coach, tradition, passionate fan base, SEC, facilities, good academics, the town of College Station, playing time and NFL opportunities. Each aspect will be ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the highest. This will be as unbiased as possible. Thumbs up, let’s do this.
From everything I have seen, new coach Kevin Sumlin is one hell of a recruiter. I know he didn’t have any otherworldly recruiting classes at Houston, but c’mon, it’s Houston. If I had the chance to play at A&M, UT, or OU, I probably wouldn’t choose Houston. As referenced here before, Sumlin is a Bob Stoops protégé, which hopefully means Sumlin can recruit like Stoops. That is a good thing.
Rank: 4 stars
I am preaching to the choir here – 12th Man, Kyle Field, Wrecking Crew, Corps of Cadets, Yell Practice, etc. No explanation needed. If school tradition is truly what a recruit is looking for, then he may want to check out Aggieland.
Rank: 5 stars
On game day, the 12th Man becomes the loudest bunch of fans in the nation. Kyle Field has consistently been recognized as one of the most difficult stadiums for opponents to play in. There is no doubting the passion and devotion among the Aggies (any school that has students willing to wear overalls for an entire Saturday is fanatical). Unfortunately I haven’t seen anything like this yet at Texas A&M, but I will still give the Aggie faithful a high grade.
Rank: 5 stars
Playing in the SEC
The SEC is the best football conference in America. Six straight national champions is quite the claim to supremacy. If I am from the state of Texas and I’m choosing between playing in the Big 12 and playing in the SEC, it is an easy decision. With the chance to play on CBS, against top competition, in some of the best stadiums in America, the SEC simply offers more than the Big 12. The lone drawback for a recruit from Texas is the distance from home at away games. Texas families can typically travel to Austin, Waco, and Fort Worth much easier than Fayetteville, Oxford, and Tuscaloosa.
Rank: 4.5 stars
Kyle Field is obviously a great place to play… but not to look at. “The Tacklebox” will be renovated soon, but as it stands now, is horrible to look at. The indoor practice facility is state-of-the-art, and the Bright Complex is nice, but With the money and support our program has, our facilities are currently lacking in comparison to the likes of Alabama and Florida. Until the updates are completed, A&M falls short in this category.
Rank: 3.5 stars
When I decided to attend Texas A&M, academics played a large role in my choice. The problem is I was a business major looking to join a fraternity, not a star athlete. Let’s be serious here. Everyone is well aware of the academic prestige at A&M, but I don’t think this significantly factors into recruits’ decisions. They care about football, not how challenging their Math 141 class will be. Instead of dreaming on the job opportunities the Mays Business School will offer them, recruits want a football program that gets them to the NFL.
Let’s go through the list of attractions in College Station… Northgate, Northgate, and Northgate. Did I say Northgate? Anyone that has spent time in the town of College Station knows that there just isn’t much to do, other than drink beer. While this is certainly fun, recruits might be looking for a little more. I cannot deny the power of our rivals’ city of Austin – the state capital has the best Tex-Mex in the state, 6th street, and sits in the Texas’ most scenic region. College Station has Cheddars, Research Park, and roughly more churches per capita than any town in America. If that doesn’t fire you up, I don’t know what will!
Rank: 2 stars
Without doing research, it seemed that under Mike Sherman the Aggies were not big on playing young guys (especially freshmen). But if a guy was a true playmaker and could handle the pressure as a youngster (see Christine Michael and Trent Hunter), he saw the playing field early on. Kevin Sumlin may employ a different philosophy, but it remains to be seen. With dynamic athletes like Trey Williams and Matt Davis coming down the pike, one must at least entertain the possibility of freshmen seeing significant playing time in 2012.
Rank: 3.5 stars
Chances of getting drafted in the NFL
Quarterbacks aside, the Aggies have a solid reputation for getting players to the NFL. Von Miller, Red Bryant, and Martellus and Michael Bennett are all recent Aggies playing in the NFL. The move to the SEC should further position the A&M football program as a launch point to professional football.
Rank: 4 stars
Total rank: 31.5 stars out of 40 possible
I was hoping for more than 31.5/40 stars from this totally speculative, arbitrary report card, but I can’t say I’m surprised. Obviously some of these factors have the potential to increase as we improve facilities and Kevin Sumlin wins national championships (right?), but at this moment I feel pretty confident in this report.
In the end, I think recruits are ultimately swayed to attend Texas A&M because of something that can’t be measured. They might be impressed with Kyle Field. They could be thoroughly disappointed with the College Station lifestyle. But what draws everyone to A&M in the end is different from what you find anywhere else. Call it the Aggie Spirit, the power of the 12th Man, “AggSwagg” – call it whatever you want – but there is something special about Texas A&M, and we know it’s what separates us from the rest.