With National Signing Day rapidly approaching, AggieYell.com looks at five points of emphasis in Texas A&M's 2014 recruiting class:
Point 5: Add depth at the skill positions on both sides of the ball.
In 2013, Texas A&M had a very impressive haul at both wide receiver, safety and cornerback. They brought in six receivers, including headliner Ricky Seals-Jones, three corners (Noel Ellis, Alex Sezer Jr. and Tavares Garner) and three safeties (Victor Davis, Kameron Miles and Jonathan Wiggins). As impressive as that group was, the task for the Aggies coaching staff was to go out and repeat their success to build up depth at all three positions.
They appear to have succeeded, for the most part.
In spite of losing Mike Evans, Travis Labhart, Derel Walker and Sebastian Larue (who never played a down at A&M), the Aggies have reloaded for a second consecutive year at wide receiver. The first addition came in December 2012, when Lufkin's Jamal Jeffery, who had destroyed A&M Consolidated in a game the Aggie coaches were attending, picked up and quickly accepted an offer. At 5 feet, 10 inches and 180 pounds, Jeffery's quickness and elusiveness make him a good addition to the slot receiver rotation.
It took nearly a year for the Aggies to get their next receiver, when Tyler Junior College's Joshua Reynolds committed over offers from TCU and Oregon. At 6 feet, 3 inches and around 180 pounds, Reynolds (who is already on campus) draws similarities to Walker, a former JUCO commit himself who thrived during his second year in the Aggie offense. He's got good speed and excellent leaping ability. With A&M's outside receiver situation in flux, a strong first few months on campus could get him on the field in 2014.
After Reynolds, the Aggies got really hot when it came to receiver recruiting. In a matter of days, they got a pair of the top wideouts in the nation. On Jan. 2, A&M pulled the upset over LSU and snagged 5-star Speedy Noil at the Under Armour All-American Game. The 6 foot, 1 inch, 160 pound Noil is aptly named, as he brings a combination of speed and shiftiness to the receiver position that A&M may have never seen. Ranked the 21st player in the nation, Noil (who is also already signed and on campus) doesn't draw a comparison to any Aggie receiver -- it's more apt to compare him to new Super Bowl champion Percy Harvin, a versatile weapon during his days at Florida. Noil could be used in a variety of ways by the Aggie coaching staff from day one.
A&M benefitted from a big receiver with basketball skills in Evans for two seasons; on Jan. 4, they picked up a guy who is even taller than the likely first round pick. Frank Iheanacho committed to the Aggies at the U.S. Army All-American Game, beating out LSU and Oregon. Iheanacho exploded onto the scene during the last couple of months of his senior season, as scouts were awed by a 6 foot, 7 inch, 220-pound wideout striding down the field in large chunks. One of the first to see him was Clarence McKinney, and the Aggies got in on him early. Now, A&M has another big body to team with Seals-Jones on the outside.
A&M's cornerback haul came earlier in the class, when they snagged Nick Harvey and Armani Watts. Harvey is one of the crown jewels of the class, as the four-star has proven he's capable of being a rangy safety or a shutdown corner. At 5 feet, 11 inches and 180 pounds, Harvey is good enough that he can push for immediate playing time at corner. With his remarkable athletic ability, he could also be used on special teams and in certain packages on offense.
Watts, who committed in early March 2013, is another burner who played safety in high school but will likely be a corner at the next level. A Rivals 250 prospect, Watts showed his versatility on both sides of the ball in high school and has no qualms about coming in run support.
One area where the Aggies didn't come up with the haul they expected was safety, where Dylan Sumner-Gardner was a commit for nearly a year before flipping to Boise State in January. The Aggies were in it until today for 4-star Steven Parker and missed out on Jamal Adams, but they weren't shut out: over the weekend, they picked up the commitment of Shreveport Woodlawn's Donovan Wilson, who had been committed to Utah. A turnover machine during his senior season, the 6 foot, 1 inch, 185-pound Wilson brings excellent instincts a good pass coverage skills to College Station.
There's still one more opportunity for A&M to add depth at safety: Mattrell McGraw of River Ridge (La.) John Curtis is scheduled to make his decision between A&M and Oregon tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. central time.