The football signing day that always gets most of the attention at Texas A&M is in February, and that's because it's usually when the vast majority (if not all) of A&M's signees fax in their letters of intent. In recent years, however, the Aggies have been recruiting an increasing number of junior college prospects that are graduating at mid term. They are attractive because in many instances they have three years to play two seasons -- or, in some cases, they redshirted and can have three seasons of eligibility left.
For programs in the Southeastern Conference like A&M, mid-term additions have become even more important because the conference restricts member institutions to 25 signees in February regardless of whether they have qualified or not. In order to sign more that 25 prospects in a class, programs can sign junior college transfers in December and they count toward the previous class' 25 signee limit.
The A&M staff has used their ability to use leftover scholarships to garner commitments from a number of mid term enrollees from high school such as Sharpstown linebacker Reggie Chevis, Rockwall Heath defensive end Jordan Points, Kennedale linebacker Brett Wade, Little Cypress-Mauriceville ATH Alex Sezer and Fork Union Military Academy receiver JaQuay Williams. They've also added several junior college stars who could be immediate impact players.
Arizona Western Community College tight end Cameron Clear chose the Aggies over Oklahoma after official visits to both schools in November. Clear indicated in an interview with AggieYell.com last month that he knew where he wanted to go on his way back from Norman.
"On my way back to school from Oklahoma I had about a four hour layover," Clear said. "I though about all my options and called my parents to let them know what I was thinking. I told them that I was impressed with Oklahoma but A&M was the school for me. They thought it was a great choice."
Clear's parents (who live in Memphis) preceded to receive a visit in person from A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin who then flew out to Arizona to see Clear.
"At the end of our conversation I was telling him what I was thinking and then just said it," he said. "I said I wanted to commit to A&M. He had a huge smile. I heard that he would tweet Yesssir when he got a commit. I went and looked at Twitter and he did it right away. That felt pretty good."
Clear gives the Aggies a tight end who blocks like an offensive tackle and offers them significant options in short yardage situations as a run blocker, as a pass protector, and a pass receiver like A&M used Nehemiah Hicks this year.
City College of San Francisco offensive tackle Jeremiah Stuckey visited A&M the same weekend as Clear and committed during the visit. The massive Stuckey told AY that he committed because of the academics and from what his host (All-American and Outland Trophy winner Luke Joeckel) told him about A&M and the coaching staff.
"He (Joeckel) seems like a real good guy and told me all about A&M from a players point of view. He said he liked all of the coaches and he respects them as coaches, leaders and people. He said Coach Sumlin would shoot it to you straight and I like that," Stuckey said.
Stuckey has three years of eligibility remaining.
Hutchison Community College linebacker Kenny Flowers committed to A&M in early November, and like Stuckey and Clear, came in on a game weekend which really made an impression on him.
"The best part was just seeing the 12th Man and the game atmosphere," said the 6 foot, 1-inch, 220-lb. Flowers.
However, Flowers' eye also caught the depth chart and the play of senior linebackers Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart.
"I watched Porter a lot and I watched Stewart some too," he said. "I talked to them after after the game. They said that they were leaving and that they were going to need me next year."
Late last week, it looked like A&M had missed out on one of their key JUCO targets, Butler County Community College linebacker Tommy Sanders. Sanders had supposedly cut down his choices to Ohio State and South Carolina, but decided Tuesday night that he would not only reconsider A&M, but would sign with them.
Sanders visited A&M for the Aggies' game with Missouri and had them as his leader going into the visit. He did not commit and subsequently took official visits to Ohio State and South Carolina. He listed the Aggies as one of his leaders along with Ohio State and Mississippi State last week and was supposed to announce on Dec. 12, but then backed off of that date when he scheduled the visit to Columbia.
One final target,Za'Darius Smith of East Mississippi Community College, ran into the numbers crunch with A&M and decided a better bet was to sign with the University of Kentucky. His defensive line coach at East Mississippi, Jimmy Brumbaugh, has taken a similar position with Kentucky, which likely played a big role in his decision.
Even without Smith, the Aggies have an impressive amount of mid-term talent that will be on campus for spring football and are being counted on moreso than most prospects to make an immediate impact on a team that should be one of the favorites next season for a national title with Heisman Trophy quarterback Johnny Manziel at the helm.