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October 23, 2013

Recruiting notebook: Aggies look bigger, faster in the future

-With the commitment of Arlington Martin defensive end Myles Garrett in the 2014 class and defensive tackle Daylon Mack of Gladewater in the 2015, Texas A&M has nabbed arguably the number one defensive line prospects in the state of Texas in both classes. However, the best is yet to come because the Aggies have stockpiled four star talents at defensive line in the 2013 class as well and are poised to add more talent in coming years.

How loaded are the Aggies when they far finished with the 2014 class and just getting started with the 2015 class? Let's take a look at the depth chart for 2015 when everyone that has committed or that A&M possibly leads for has arrived on campus arrives on campus from the 2013 through 2015 classes (excluding on campus guys like Julien Obioha, who will be factors in 2015 but are not part of the recruiting classes we're discussing here).

Nosetackle: Junior Isaiah Golden backed up by junior Hardreck Walker. Both are four stars and should be over 300 pounds by this time.

Defensive tackle: Redshirt sophomore Justin Manning or sophomore Deshawn Washington. Both were four stars coming out of high school and although smaller than Golden or Walker have the quickness and athleticism to play the three technique, shoot gaps, and provide a pass rush.

X factors: Daylon Mack and Jay Arnold. Mack is the best defensive tackle in the 2015 class and wants to arrive on campus at mid term. He could play either spot and break into the two deep with his first step and lateral movement. Arnold was recruited as a defensive end but could well be 300 pounds by the time he is a junior. He has a good first step, can run people down, uses his hands well, and plays with a mean streak. If he gets too big for defensive end, he could easily find a home at defensive tackle.

Rush end: junior Daeshon Hall backed up by sophomore Qualen Cunningham. It's presumptuous to assume that Cunningham will commit to the Aggies -- but they've led for him all along, so let's be presumptuous and assume so anyway. Hall was a four star who's already seeing playing time as a freshman and has the frame to be 260 pounds by that time with long arms and great change of direction. Cunningham is much smaller but is extremely athletic and has great get off. His father, Rick Cunningham, played in the NFL and so he's extremely well developed from a technical standpoint.

Strongside end: sophomore Myles Garrett backed up by sophomore Jarrett Johnson. Garrett is a four star who is the best defensive end in the state this year and can play the rush end or strongside end. He's got the first step to play rush end but he's got the length and frame to be bigger than Hall which is why he may be a better fit here. Johnson is very much like Hall except that he lacks his height but he has the long arms to keep blockers away from him in the running game.

However, A&M has got a number of options at defensive end. They can play Garrett at rush end and Hall at strongside end because both possess the skill sets to play either. They can play Arnold at strongside end with his strength and athleticism and perhaps sub out someone else on passing downs.

By 2015, the unit will have some experience and be able to start mostly upperclassmen and rotate in underclassmen to play specific roles. That means that any way you slice it, the Aggies will be able to field a front four that features size, athleticism, and depth that hasn't been seen in College Station since the Wrecking Crew days of the 1980's and 1990's.

-Even though Garrett committed to Texas A&M on Friday a day ahead of a planned Saturday commitment, head coach Kevin Sumlin had to fire up the Swaggcopter and send offensive coordinator Jake Spavital to the Allen/Plano West game last night. The game featured a number of top 2015 and even 2016 college prospects but most of all it featured Allen junior quarterback Kyler Murray who put on a performance that's pretty routine for him and pretty incredible for anyone else: 392 yards in total offense on 24 passes and runs and seven touchdowns rushing and throwing in eight possessions.

Yes, that's right, close to 20 yards a play and 50 yards a possession. Every touchdown was over 20 yards in length. He even had a play where he made two defenders collide in the backfield when they were trying to corral him on a pass, eluded them, and then rolled back to his right and lofted the ball to a back in the flat for a 20 yard gain. Otherwise, he either ran the ball on designed running plays where he wasn't touched or stayed in the pocket and delivered the ball to the open receiver.

However, before you comparing him to The Chosen One -- don't. Murray is simply his own player and even though he shares some gifts with Johnny Manziel, he's a much better passer at this stage of his development. His footwork and delivery look like that of someone much older and in terms of straight line speed he may be even faster. Nothing seems to faze whether it's a defensive lineman bearing down on him or an interviewer…his confidence and maturity are unparalleled for a junior in high school.

In terms of his height….the Eagles' offensive line has two starting Division I caliber tackles who are both 6 foot 5. The remainder of the line has some size as well. He has no problem dealing with that because they create throwing lanes for him and because he moves around in the pocket enough to create them for himself.

Spavital got a good look at all of this himself down on the sidelines, especially because Murray kept running through the end zone on his touchdown runs right past where Spavital was standing. The Aggies have already offered him and although he's the son of former A&M great Kevin Murray, he's his own man and he'll make his own decision. Nonetheless, Spavital couldn't help but think that Murray is a fit for A&M and again it's not just because he's a playmaking quarterback similar to the Heisman Trophy winner he coaches right now. It's because Murray is already well versed in the Air Raid offense that represents the foundation of A&M's attack, accurate, poised, well coordinated, and most of all productive to the tune of a 65% completion rate, over 10 yards per passing attempt, and over seven yards a carry with a touchdown to interception ratio of 18 to 3. He already understands that if he holds the ball and trusts his protection that he can make big plays down the field in the passing game. In fact, if you want to make a comparison of Murray to quarterbacks at A&M, he's more like freshman Kenny Hill or incoming freshman Kyle Allen than Manziel because of his pocket presence and ability to attack down the field.

-I also got a chance to see the Aggies' first offer in the 2016 class, Allen offensive tackle Greg Little. Little stands 6 foot 6 and close to 290 pounds already. He's still learning to deal with his massive frame and there's no doubt that he's not ready right now to take on the likes of someone like a Myles Garrett (Garrett was pretty rough on him during a pre season scrimmage between Allen and Martin). However, he will improved his coordination and technique as time goes on and he's well coached enough right now that he gets his hands up high pretty quickly and keeps them inside those of the defender. His feet are decent as well; he doesn't overstride and takes very controlled, small steps rather than larger ones that could throw him off balance. He doesn't have great bend in his hips or knees and may be more of a right tackle (which he currently plays) than a natural left tackle. Nonetheless, he only got beat once last night in seven possessions and his effort is good for young guy who's used to lining up and just physically beating people. Those guys get lazy because of a lack of competition but he's well coached at Allen and you can bet that won't happen.


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