When 2015 Splendora (Texas) running back Jay Bradford committed to the Texas A&M Aggies on Wednesday evening, it was a decision that came down days after there were rumors that he was close to ending his recruitment on an unofficial visit.
Now the third commit in the A&M class for 2015, Bradford's pledge gives the Aggies a high-powered running back duo following the pledge of Katy's Rodney Anderson in early August. A consensus four-star prospect early and the No. 9 running back nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings, Bradford is ranked by that service as the No. 5 player in the state.
He held offers from Baylor, Texas, and Texas Tech. Of the three pledges for the Aggies, each of them held offers from the Longhorns, continuing a trend of head-to-head victories that started in earnest with the 2014 class and has now bled into the next cycles, as the Aggies continue to benefit from the move to the SEC, a successful season highlighted by the Heisman-winning campaign of Johnny Football, and a young and charismatic coaching staff that has done an excellent job of identifying with prospects in a way that the previous coaching staff never managed.
It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the Aggies are one of the hottest commodities in recruiting around the country and with all the head-to-head victories over Texas, there's a strong case to be made that they have surpassed Texas as the premier brand in the state.
Timed during an A&M camp this summer at 4.3 seconds in the 40, Bradford also turned heads on the recruiting scene in early May when he won the 3A 100m with a time of 10.49 and took home gold in the long jump as well.
A true assessment of Bradford as a running back probably won't be possible until his junior season after an injury limited him as a sophomore, but it didn't keep him from gaining more than 1,000 yards. There are flashes when Bradford can stick his foot in the ground and his acceleration and top-end speed are extremely impressive. There are also times when his stop-start ability doesn't appear especially dynamic and there isn't a lot of evidence of elite lateral movement from him on film or overall tackle-breaking ability.
At 5'10 and 191 pounds, his build is ideal for a load back in college with a low center of gravity and a strong build, which makes Bradford a nice fit with Anderson, who is more of an all-purpose back who can do damage as a receiver. What Bradford will have to show this season is that he can be more dynamic when he's healthy because his production on film doesn't quite match his measurables, which could be due to those aforementioned injury issues.
The speed is there unquestionably and there are some impressive moments from Bradford in pads, but it's concerning to see him nearly get caught from behind on separate occasions, one where he was pulled down just as he crossed the endzone. He should be pulling away from high school defenders in the open field unless they have a great angle on him, which neither player did.
But the fact remains that Bradford has prodigious potential, elite speed, and plenty of time to put things together.