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January 21, 2013

Recapping a big recruiting weekend

Here's a look back at a huge recruiting weekend for Texas A&M and a few things to watch as we move closer to national signing day Feb. 6:

- Most programs bring in the majority of a class on a single weekend for official visits so that the class can get to know each other. However, that's becoming less important because so many prospects commit early and can get to know each other via social media, texts, and unofficial visits for games and camps. A&M has chosen to bring in smaller groups over a number of weekends so that each prospect can have more one on one time with coaches and support personnel. This is especially important if the prospects are uncommitted. In addition, A&M has been bringing in groups that have something in common. For example, the Aggies brought in prospects from the Metroplex and early enrollees in December, Houston area prospects such as Ricky Seals-Jones and Derrick Griffin the weekend of Jan. 11, and more prospects from the Metroplex will be coming in next weekend.

- The most important visitor this weekend (although not the most highly rated) was Lancaster defensive end Daeshon Hall. Hall came into College Station after taking official visits to Washington, Washington State, and TCU. Hall committed to Texas in the spring, de-committed, moved to Washington with his father during the summer, committed to the Washington Huskies, and then moved back to Texas before the start of the 2012 season. He left College Station this weekend without committing to A&M and has never de-committed from Washington. He still has one official visit left if he chooses to take it but it's unknown if he will do so or where it will be. Hall has the length to play end in the SEC and the athleticism to register 18 sacks as a senior and play tight end. Washington's advantages appear to be ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi and proximity to Hall's father; A&M's appear to be the possibility of playing with friends such as Dallas Bishop Dunne offensive lineman Ishmael Wilson and early playing time, with A&M junior Damontre Moore declaring for the NFL draft. He's also being recruited by A&M receivers coach David Beaty, who has obtained the commitment of several Dallas area prospects for the Aggies.

- The most highly rated visitor this week was Santa Monica, California four star receiver Sebastian Larue. Larue was originally committed to USC early on but the Trojans had a less than stellar season and Larue de-committed. He's taking an official visit to Notre Dame next weekend and Texas, Texas Tech, Oregon State, and Miami are jockeying for his final visit the weekend of Feb. 1. Former A&M cornerback Sean Weston is one of Larue's coaches and A&M assistant Marcel Yates (who recruited California when he was at Boise State) has stayed in contact with Larue throughout the process. It was Larue's second trip to A&M and he indicated that Aggieland was even better the second time around, especially because of the A&M coaching staff.

"I am definitely already comfortable with him (Coach Yates) and all of the coaches," Larue told AY's Courtney Roland. "I really like all of them, every single one of them are players coaches, from Coach Sumlin to the equipment crew. All of them look out for what is best for the players. They are all in it for the player's best interest. It was good to see that. You can tell everyone, coaches and players all have the same goal and are on the same page. They have all bought in. The goal is to win a national championship and you can see that in everyone's work ethic. They just got back from a break and they are all working out and working hard. It is a great thing to see."

- Pearland Dawson running back James White put up over 1,800 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns in 2011 and then proceeded to have an even more astounding 2012 campaign: 2,185 yards rushing, a 7.69 average per rush, and 28 touchdowns. His accomplishments this past fall are even more impressive when you realize that teams were able to key on White as he had twice as many rushing attempts as leading passer Josh Sharp had passes. He's a physical runner who's always leaning forward and has good balance and speed and has been far more productive than most of his contemporaries such as DeSoto's Dontre Wilson and Arlington Martin's Kyle Hicks.

White had his official visit to A&M this past weekend and was hosted by Oregon transfer Tra Carson. He got to meet with coach Sumlin before he left and the message he got was simple: "Be ready when you get here." His in-home visit will likely happen sometime next week, but that's not set in stone yet.

- There were also some developments in A&M recruiting this weekend that didn't take place on A&M's campus. The most noteworthy was the de-committment of four star Orlando (Fla.) Evans receiver Tony Stevens who took an official visit to Auburn this past weekend and committed to the Tigers. Stevens originally committed to A&M at the Army All American Game just three weeks ago. However, former Florida State assistant Dameyune Craig (where Stevens was originally committed) took a position at Auburn and convinced him to take a visit. Stevens has now been committed to three different programs in just a matter of weeks. However, his de-committment did open up a spot for Larue.

- Port Allen (La.) linebacker prospect and Aggie commit Darian Claiborne was slated to take an official visit to TCU this past weekend but did not make the trip and will not reschedule his visit.

- Alief Taylor safety Jonathan Wiggins was supposed to take his official visit to A&M this past weekend, but instead postponed it for a week so that he could come in with teammate Torrodney Prevot. The 6 foot 3, 205 pound Prevot is (along with Daeshon Hall) the most highly rated pass rusher still taking visits in the state of Texas. Prevot committed to USC during the summer but reportedly visited Oregon this past weekend.

- Finally, Southlake Carroll quarterback and A&M commit Kenny Hill officially visited Kansas State this past weekend. This came on the heels of an official visit to Baylor the weekend of Jan. 11. It was rumored for some time that Hill would be looking around after his season was over due to the success of A&M redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel and the departure of A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury to become the head coach at Texas Tech. However, Hill has reiterated multiple times during the past two weeks that he is solidly committed to A&M and reaffirmed it again yesterday after his trip to Manhattan. Hill is coming to College Station for his own official visit to A&M this upcoming weekend.


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