From strictly a recruiting standpoint, who got the better deal out of Texas A&M joining the SEC? The SEC or the Aggies?
We know Texas A&M boosted its football reputation by joining the conference that has a stranglehold on BCS championships. We know they will get rich from the SEC’s renegotiated TV contact.
But we’re looking at it from a recruiting perspective: Now the SEC has highly-visible representation in Texas, coaches and scouts will be overrunning the border patrol to steal talent from one of the top three talent-rich states in the country.
Who got the better deal?
“I don’t know,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin told the AJC.
“We’re joining a league that is established, and is the best league in college football. It’s hard to say … when you’re coming in a league that has won six straight national championships, has more NFL Draft choices in the last 10 years than any other league, and is already established.
“I don’t think being in the SEC has hurt us one bit with recruiting. In the state of Texas, kids have a choice of playing in the Big 12, the Big East, the SEC, or other places. There’s a lot of student-athletes out there in Texas that want to play at the highest level possible, and the SEC gives the young man that opportunity.
“We’ve had a good response about joining the SEC from prospects. It’s hard for me to compare to other years because this is my first year here as head coach. I would say the response has been great. We’ve been very well-received by some of the higher caliber players in the region about it.”
Sumlin knows rival SEC schools are headed to Texas and will be recruiting with more confidence than ever. But he doesn’t think the “floodgates” will suddenly open like some are speculating.
“There are 11 Div. I football-playing schools in this state; People forget about that,” Sumlin said. “We did a study when I was at Houston which showed us something like 70-80 D1 schools come into the state of Texas A&M. So it wouldn’t be anything new, I’ll put it that way. The competition for recruits has always been great in this state.
“It may have opened some doors [for other SEC schools] for whatever battles may be around here. But I think it may have opened the doors for us a little bit and increased our footprint with moving East in recruiting, if anything. There’s some minuses in recruiting with all of this, but there’s also some pluses. We’ve been received a little bit better as we move toward Louisiana and Mississippi.”
Sumlin said Texas A&M’s recruiting strategy will remain just about the same under his regime. The top priority is Texas, with a heavy emphasis on Louisiana and Mississippi (especially the junior colleges). Texas A&M will also target the home states of fellow SEC members for any special needs at a position.
We had a few more questions for the Texas A&M coach:
With Texas A&M as a new member of the SEC, it had to abide by the conference’s new rules on over-signing. How did it impact Texas A&M’s recruiting this year? “It kind of affected us this year, from the standpoint of when I got here there were some guys committed that we had to evaluate, not only athletically but academically. Guys that I thought would have difficulty qualifying, we went ahead and had that discussion with them … about going ahead and going to a junior college or releasing them to be recruited by somebody else, instead of signing a kid to scholarship that we possibly couldn’t use. That’s kind of where that was. It affected us in recruiting. I can see the pluses and minuses in [the rules].”
Last season at Houston, you coached Heisman candidate QB Case Keenum, who set the FBS records for total offense and career TD passes. Would Case have had the same type of success in the SEC? “You know, I don’t know. That’s a pretty broad question. Having success has to do with the players around you. It’s not just being a good QB but having players around you that will compete. Obviously, we had some success going to Mississippi State and winning there [in 2009], and going to Oklahoma State and winning there [in 2009]. It’s more than just one player. Case is very talented and great and a special guy. But to play week in and week out [like that in the SEC], it would probably take depth. I think, given the right situation with the right talent around him, a guy like that would be successful. I think that’s why he’ll be successful in the NFL.”
What does he think about the Big Ten’s so-called “gentlemen’s agreement” to not recruit players committed to other member schools that Ohio State’s Urban Meyer called “nonsense”? And is he aware of any similar agreements in the SEC? “No. I don’t get into what they’re talking about in the Big Ten. I’ve got my own problems. I don’t know if there’s any SEC gentlemen’s agreement. I’ll guess I’ll learn about that this year.”
Texas A&M has not offered football scholarships to any 2013 Georgia recruits, according to Rivals.
SINCE THE WEEKEND …
IT’S RAINING RECRUITING STORIES
IT’S NEVER BORING IN THE WACKY WORLD OF RECRUITING
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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