The Texas A&M Aggies landed the school's 14th commitment for the 2013 class on Sunday evening. However, the news that Rockwall-Heath (TX) defensive end Jay Arnold is the newest Aggie didn't break until Monday afternoon, stemming from a GigEm247 report and confirmed moments later by Arnold himself on his Twitter account:
Verbally committed to Texas A&M University! Gig 'em!— Jay Arnold (@JayArnold85MMA) April 9, 2012
For A&M recruitniks, the commitment hardly came as a surprise -- it seemed like simply a matter of time ($) before Arnold pledged after he thoroughly enjoyed a visit to spring practice roughly a week ago. Arnold held off due to the wishes of his coach, who gave his blessing last week.
Here's what Arnold had to say about his commitment ($):
My first visit to A&M was my sophomore year when Sherman was still the head coach. I was really impressed with the program but something really didn't click. I pressed on but then Coach Sumlin's staff came in and I went down to their junior day on the 18th of February and I just hit it off with the staff. Then, I realized this is the place I wanted to be at. I took some more trips but my feelings for A&M never changed. I decided it was time to commit to A&M
The Dallas-area product chose Texas A&M over offers from Baylor, Ole Miss, Northwestern, Purdue, SMU, Tulsa, and Wake Forest, and becomes the first defensive end commitment for the Aggies, who are also targeting Alief Taylor's Torrodney Prevot on the weakside.
Rated by 247 Sports, Rivals, and Scout as a three-star prospect, Arnold has ideal size for the defensive end position at 6-4 and 245 pounds, with the frame to potentially play at 270 or more pounds when he gets done growing into his body at the college level. In fact, the Oklahoma Sooners were targeting Arnold as a defensive tackle, though the Sooners had not yet extended an offer.
Despite those projections, Arnold was productive off the edge as a junior in 2011. He recorded 13 sacks from his defensive end position, an impressive number for a player who will be a strongside defensive end in what should be a return for the Aggies to a 4-3 scheme.
For his size, Arnold moves well, but an explosive first step is not his best attribute and a reason beyond his pure size why he doesn't project on the weakside as a pass-rusher in college. With that being said, Arnold has strong initial burst for his position and plays with violent hands and an overall recklessness. At times -- usually against clearly-outmatched offensive players -- Arnold was able to run the arc, dipping his shoulder to turn the corner, all without the opposing player laying as much as a finger on him.
There's also evidence that Arnold can use his hands to shed opponents attempting to cut at his legs.
Against the running game, Arnold shows the ability to get a wide base and use his lower body strength to hold his position before separating to make plays. Given his size and projected growth, he should hold up well against the run in college.
If there's a complaint, it's that Arnold is often a drag-down tackler, a result of not properly squaring up quarterbacks or ballcarriers, sinking his hips, wrapping up, and finishing. However, that's a relatively minor technical issue -- a much larger concern would be a lack of athleticism or lower body stiffness, issues that coaching can't correct.
Based on his athleticism and production, it would not be a surprise to eventually see Arnold earn a fourth star -- all of which goes to say that Arnold is a good get for the Aggies as one of the stop strongside ends in the state and a player who may currently be underrated.
#85 Jay Arnold - DE Junior Season 2011.wmv (via heathhawksfootball)
For more on Aggies football, visit Texas A&M blog I Am The 12th Man.