When Texas A&M's coaching staff looks at the first edition of the Rivals 250, one word probably immediately goes through their minds: opportunity. That's especially the case on the defensive side of the ball, where Defensive Coordinator Mark Snyder and his assistants could end up with a bumper crop of prospects already recognized as being among the nation's best. Here's a closer look at members of the 250 that have A&M offers and where the Aggies stand:
Solomon Thomas, Coppell (number 28); Myles Garrett, Arlinton Martin (36); Gerald Willis III, New Orleans Edna Karr (42); Deondre Clark, Oklahoma City Douglass (48); Qualen Cunningham, Chandler (Az.) Hamilton (80); Andrew Williams, McDonough (Ga.) Eagle's Landing Christian (85); Chad Thomas, Miami Booker T. Washington (207).
A&M has a need for defensive ends in this class, and it looks like a very good time for that to be a need. Thomas may be the top catch, and it's believed he has A&M among his leaders -- but, with 18 offers already, including from the likes of Ohio State and Notre Dame, competition will be intense. Garrett has the Aggies among his top choices, as does Willis (who has essentially narrowed his list to A&M, Florida and LSU). In spite of being from out of state, Cunningham -- an Aggie legacy -- has A&M at the top of his list. Clark appears to be still in the early stages of his decision making process, with no leaders; Williams, who already has an astounding 26 offers, is likely to become an opponent in the SEC East. Thomas says his top three are currently hometown Miami, FSU and LSU.
After their bumper crop of 2013, the Aggies only have one offer (non-250) at this position.
Hoza Scott, La Porte (23, committed); Dillon Bates, Ponte Vedra (Fla.) (58); Marquis Ware, Los Angeles Salesian (113).
The Aggies have another commit from outside the 250 in Josh Walker, but Scott is the crown jewel at this point. A possible 5-star in the making, Scott picked A&M early over Texas, Alabama and LSU and shut things down. Bates, who already has 25 offers -- including ones from Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech -- lived in Texas in the past and could have serious interest in the Aggies (if they're still interested in another outside linebacker). Ware is currently listed as an athlete and could play linebacker or defensive end.
Zach Whitley, Galena Park North Shore (61)
Whitley is currently A&M's only target for an inside linebacker, and the Aggies are currently sitting pretty when it comes to his leaders.
Jamal Adams, Lewisville Hebron (33); Edward Paris, Mansfield Timberview (38); Nick Harvey, Fort Bend Travis (44, committed); Dylan Sumner-Gardner, West Mesquite (76); Edwin Freeman, Arlington Bowie (120); Davion Hall, Texarkana Liberty-Elayhu (126).
Even though he's listed as an athlete, Harvey likely will be a safety at A&M and possesses a top-flight skill set. Adams has offers from Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Texas, but has A&M among his top possibilities. Paris, who is already pushing 30 offers with his blistering 4.35-second 40-yard dash time, doesn't talk much but it's believed A&M is trailing LSU for his services. Sumner-Gardner, who was the first player to commit to a school (Clemson) in the class of '14, also became one of the first to de-commit a couple of weeks ago. Since then, A&M has moved to the top of his list. Hall has committed to Baylor in order to play wide receiver for the Bears.
Adoree' Jackson, Gardena (Ca.) Junipero Serra (8); Tony Brown, Beaumont Ozen (13); Nick Watkins, Dallas Bishop Dunne (158); Quincy Wilson, Ft. Lauderdale (Fl.) University School (165); Cedric Collins, Dallas Skyline (185, committed); Chris Hardeman, Alief Taylor (199).
The Aggies have some level of initial interest from Jackson, but he may well be too difficult to pull away from the west coast. Brown, on the other hand, could be a viable target as the 5-star appears to have set his sights largely on LSU and the Aggies. A&M was in good shape with Watkins, but appears to have slowed their pursuit in recent weeks. Wilson, who has more than 25 offers, appears to like the Big 10. Collins was A&M's first commit for 2014 and has become the leader of the growing class, while the Aggies have pretty much dropped their pursuit of Hardeman since he committed to LSU.