Texas A&M's junior day started off quietly as the Aggies welcomed some of the state's top talent to College Station but ended with a roar as the Aggies welcomed two Rivals 250 members and the player widely regarded as the best defensive tackle in Texas for 2014 into the fold.
The late afternoon commitment of safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner wasn't unexpected as the 6 foot 1, 190 pound West Mesquite product had A&M leading after an unofficial visit to College Station last month and even after a junior day visit to Texas last weekend. The subsequent commitment of North Forney athlete Armani Watts toward the evening shouldn't have been a surprise as rumors were circulating around the Bright Complex that he would pull the trigger for the Aggies if he were offered. Both can play either safety spot, provide run support, and cover down on slot receivers if necessary.
However, it was the unexpected commitment of Nederland defensive tackle DeShawn Washington that made the day an unqualified success. Washington was widely considered to be the best defensive tackle in the state for 2014 with 16 sacks last season and offers from Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas, A&M, and Texas Tech. Like Sumner-Gardner, Washington had attended Texas's junior day last weekend. Unlike Sumner-Gardner, Washington had been photographed in a Texas Longhorn jersey and had grown up a Texas fan. Word was after his visit that the Horns led.
However, even before his visit to Austin, Washington listed A&M as one of the schools that he was in touch with over the phone and also listed them first among his offers. As in Austin where he posted a picture of himself in orange and white, Washington tweeted a picture of himself wearing maroon and white as well as a picture from Texas A&M's first day of practice.
Long after most of the prospects had left A&M's junior day at 7:30 p.m., Washington tweeted "It's official, I'm going to be an Aggie" and quickly changed his Twitter homepage to say "Committed to A&M."
It was the type of day that reflected that a perceived seismic change in the Texas recruiting landscape finally became official. For years, A&M staffs had watched as Texas and Oklahoma had junior days and didn't just obtain multiple commitments but garnered the real difference-makers in any programs….the four star caliber prospects in the front seven that ranked among or as the state's best players at their positions. It always seemed like that the Aggies came in second best for defensive linemen who made plays in opponents' backfields or corners who locked down one side of the field.
Now, under A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, the Aggies are following up a season in which they had a Heisman Trophy winner in Johnny Manziel and a top five finish nationally by loading up on those types of prospects. A&M's four commitments in the secondary are all members of the Rivals 250 and two of them are in the Rivals 100. In fact, the Aggies' accomplishments in 2012 came without those types of prospects on the roster….only two of A&M's defensive starters in the Cotton Bowl were rated as four stars coming out of high school.
Schools that are used to obtaining that type of talent now will have to learn how the other half lives. A&M fans can only imagine what their future will be like once that type of talent lands in the pipeline and actually starts contributing. In addition, when you combine A&M's 2013 defensive talent…six four-star rated prospects including three defensive tackles considered equal to or better than Washington…with the five on board (and at some point Washington will probably join them to make six)…the Aggies will be on their way to fielding an elite defense capable of contending for national titles…even if Johny Football isn't there to lead them.