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February 13, 2014

2014, '15 classes can reload A&M's offense

So far, we've looked back at Texas A&M's hauls in the 2013 and 2014 classes and how those two groups complemented each other on both sides of the ball. Now, we're going to look ahead at the combination of the 2014 class that was just signed and A&M's most likely targets in the 2015 class and start today on offense.

Quarterback: Kyle Allen (2014); Kyler Murray, Jarrett Stidham (2015)

Allen was rated as the top ranked pro style quarterback in the country for 2014 and is already on campus to compete for the starting job. He's a pure pocket passer with great footwork and mechanics. In contrast, Murray is more in the vein of someone like Johnny Manziel who can make plays with his feet or use them to buy time to get the ball downfield. Even so, Murray has great feet, a compact delivery, and poise beyond his years as well as the confidence that no matter how good the competition in front of him that he can compete right away. Stidham has an offer as well and the Aggies are in his top ten but Murray appears to be A&M's number one target at the position right now and has the Aggies in his top five.

Summary: The Aggies need to bring in an average of one quarterback a season and they need another one on campus to maintain a pipeline at the position. If A&M lands Murray, the Aggies will have brought in great quarterbacks who are capable of running the offense and will provide plenty of competition for one another even though they have disparate skill sets.

Running back: Rodney Anderson, Jay Bradford (2015), Soso Jamabo, JaMychal Hasty, Nicholas Brossette

The Aggies didn't bring in a running back in the 2014 class (Lake Travis' Varshaun Nixon decommitted and signed with TCU) and even though A&M used some two back sets last season they've pretty much been a one back team out of the spread during Kevin Sumlin's tenure. Thus, they need at least two in the 2015 class and are recruiting others at the position as well.

Anderson and Bradford have already committed to A&M and Anderson is the bigger, more physical runner of the two with extraordinary balance who can block and catch the ball. Bradford is a state sprint champion who has a top gear that few other runners have but needs to work on other aspects of his game. Jamabo is a tall, lanky athlete who could conceivably play other positions. Brossette is a big back out of Louisiana typical of the power backs that A&M fans have seen come out of the state in recent years like Leonard Fournette. Hasty is a quick, elusive player who can make the first defender miss and is a totally different type of player than the remainder of the offers and commits in the 2015 class.

Summary: The Aggies already have two commits and both of them complement each other. The remaining prospects all offer something different than what A&M already has but it's no longer a "need" position.

Outside receiver: Frank Iheanacho, Speedy Noil, Joshua Reynolds (2014); Damarkus Lodge, Tyron Johnson, Kemah Siverand, Jalen Guyton (2015).

After signing several receivers in the 2013 class, the Aggies didn't extend many offers initially but eventually wound up with three commits. Noil is the headliner of the group with his speed, balance, and hand/eye coordination and could play inside or outside. Reynolds and Iheanacho previously played basketball and have great verticals combined their ability to catch the ball at the top of their jump. However, both of them will need some work in terms of running routes and getting separation.

In addition, while Reynolds and Iheanacho are late bloomers since they spent much of their life playing hoops, they're also unique in that they are tall targets. In contrast, the 2015 offers have gone out to prospects that are typically between 6 feet and 6 foot 2 in height but are more polished at this stage of their careers. Lodge and Johnson are at the top of the food chain, being physical receivers who can jump and get separation. Guyton is a deep threat who has very good hands and Siverand is very fluid and already runs really good routes. Johnson is coming to A&M's next junior day and Guyton and Siverand have already attended one.

Summary: The Aggies would probably like to bring in at least two outside receivers into the class with Lodge and Johnson being more suited to the X receiver spot and Guyton and Siverand being more suited to the Z receiver.

Inside receiver: Jamal Jeffrey (2014); Kirk Merritt, Christian Kirk (2015)

Jeffrey is a prototype slot for the Air Raid with his quickness and ability to get separation in traffic. Kirk is from Arizona and the Rivals 100 prospect was offered prior to last season by A&M. He is friends with a couple of members of A&M 2014 class that also hail from Arizona in quarterback Kyle Allen and defensive end Qualen Cunningham. Both Kirk and Merritt play running back as well and Hasty (listed among the running backs) certainly has the size and quickness to play the position.

Summary: A&M would probably like to sign one true slot a year and they've already done that in 2014 with Jeffrey. The big question for A&M is actually not numbers but whether or not they want to get bigger at the position as they have at multiple spots across the board to match up with the size and physical play in the SEC. If they do, they may start looking more at outside receivers who have the quickness to move inside if need be.

Tight end: Jordan Davis (2015)

There are very few pure in line tight ends in the state of Texas any longer as they're being used as outside receivers and big slots (better known as the Y position). A&M did this last spring with Mike Evans and Cameron Clear and in the fall with Ricky Seals Jones (who caught a touchdown pass prior to his season ending injury in the opener). The trend has even hit the pros with players such as the Saints' Jimmie Graham and the Cowboys' Jason Witten who catch most of their passes as big slots.

Davis himself plays outside and uses his 6 foot 4, 250 frame to outmuscle smaller corners. In addition, he can move inside and obtain mismatches against smaller safeties or slower linebackers. Iheanacho (who is 6 foot 6) could also fulfill a similar role if need be.

Summary: A&M has gotten bigger as a program as head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff have absorbed the lessons of the SEC. They've brought in big outside receivers who can double as slots but the move to use these players inside was pretty much shelved last year after Seals Jones was injured. Nonetheless, look for A&M to use a big slot to complement a smaller, more traditional slot not just for the passing game but also to provide a boost in the running game as well.

Offensive line: Kealvin Davis, Jermaine Eluemunor, Avery Gennesy, Koda Martin, Zach Ledwik (2014); Josh Wariboko, Conner Dyer, Keenan Walker, Trevor Elbert, Connor Lanfear, Toby Weathersby (2015)

We've talked earlier in this article about A&M getting bigger and they've certainly been doing that in the offensive line. Outside of Wariboko, none of the signees/offers are less than 6 foot 4 in height.

Eluemunor and Gennesy were brought in to provide immediate help since the Aggies lose four offensive linemen after the 2014 season (including the last members of the 2010 class which is the best in A&M history). Davis has the feet to play left tackle but will probably eventually have to slide inside given who A&M is bringing in on the perimeter. For example, Ledwik and Martin are athletic enough to play defense but also have the length to hold up in pass protection.

The 2015 class could well shake out like this: Elbert (already committed) and Dyer on the outside with Lanfear and Weathersby on the inside. However, all four players offer great versatility and each could play any number of positions up front. Both Lanfear and Weathersby are three stars but don't let that fool you; they are all going to wind up with offers from A&M, Texas, and Oklahoma which denotes a four star caliber level of prospect.

Summary: The Aggies loaded up on both quantity and quality in the 2014 group (keep in mind that former Dallas Jesuit lineman J.J. Gustafson was technically a member of the 2013 class but did not enroll until January due to rehabilitation from surgery). In addition, it was something of a down year within the state for offensive linemen (Ledwik emerged only after attending an A&M camp last summer). However, A&M would probably like to sign four linemen a year to maintain a balanced pipeline, especially since they could redshirt them and not have to play them until they were upperclassmen. Nonetheless, A&M has a couple of unique factors working together in the 2015 class; first, they can theoretically offer the prospect of early playing time given their losses at the position after the 2014 season and second that they are projected to producing a third consecutive top five NFL draft pick. Thus, they can offer both early playing time and development to a big, deep group of 2015 prospects.


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