Overall Class Rating: (C) After a couple years of decent hauls, this is an underwhelming class on paper for Sherman. Position needs are addressed, but the overall lack of blue chips and immediate contributors is of concern. The staff seemed to turn their eyes toward a big 2012 class months ago as the team performed better on the field. If this is the sustainable goal, the Ags will need a big 2011 of living up to expectations. As for this year's class, I'm told Sherman will be giving his Signing Day presser over chamomile, crumpets, and the light sounds of big band out of a phonograph.
Taylor Bertolet - K - Rivals #1 Kicker. The Ags plucked this mule out of the natural recruiting pipeline of Reading, Pennsylvania. I did everything I could to keep a damn kicker out of my Top 5, but as you'll see shortly, things get bleak. Read on!
Joey Cheek - OL - Rivals #21 OL. Cheek committed way back in the summer of 2009 and is an early enrollee. At 6'7" 270, he has an ideal frame with room to add 40 lbs. or so primarily in the upper body. He has athletic feet and can get downfield and wreak havoc on linebackers and the secondary. Cheek shirts in my opinion.
Devonta Burns - DB - Rivals #43 DB. Burns garnered decent offers around the country and gave his verbal to A&M this past spring. He measures out at 5'11" 185 and played some safety in high school. He has a decent motor, so it will be interesting to see if the coaching staff turns him into a corner or bulks him up into a safety.
Shayvion Hatten - OL - Rivals #40 OL. What was perhaps the thinnest position unit of any program in the Big 12 under the waning days of Fran has become an area of depth and promise for the Ags. Hatten had a nice senior year and had offers from Mizzou, Tech, and Florida State among others. He is a gaunt 265 lbs., so a project to be sure. If you can ink a trench player by the name of Shayvion, you do as such, gang.
Donnie Baggs - LB - Rivals #26 LB. This was probably the most pressing position of need in this class and Sherm responded accordingly by landing four. I was tempted to place commit Shaun Ward out of Florida in this slot, but there is too much smoke around a last minute departure by him. Baggs is a fast, smaller LB that fits DeRuyter's 3-4 nicely. He is an early enrollee, and if he produces a nice spring and summer, he could be getting meaningful snaps in September.
Most Likely Early Contributor(s)
Taylor Bertolet - senior kicker Randy Bullock is doing his damndest to eat himself out of a kicking job (yes, you read that correctly), and Sherm wouldn't mind flipping the duties to a fish with some modicum of consistency.
LeMarc Strahan - Strahan hails from the breeding grounds of one Cam Newton down the road in Brenham at Blinn. He is an ox of a man at DT weighing in at a hearty 365 lbs. with the ability to anchor the defense at nose tackle. No word yet on if Reverend Cecil Newton brokered his deal.
Top Class Sleeper
I'll throw QB Johnny Manziel in this slot out of Kerrville Tivy. Manssiere? No, Manziel. Johnny is smart like a computer and put up these video game numbers his senior year: 65.7%/3609 yards/45 TD/5 INT through the air and 1674 yards/9.8 YPC/30 TD on the ground.
The One That Got Away
Plugerville RB Kenny Williams who is a Tech verbal pimped along the Ags up until the final weeks. He is of similar build to Christine Michael and has the ability to contribute as soon as he gets on campus. I'm told his handling of the recruiting process might be somewhat of a red flag. Tech views this as a resume builder.
I love teams that have big backs that tote the ball, so I'm bullish on Horn commit Malcolm Brown. Brown is the ideal RB when your team is up in the second half and you want to slowly bleed a defense to death. Route running and topline speed might be his areas of weakness, but that is really picking nits.
I'm From Mizzourah
Frankly, I'm not sure on anyone in this class. As mentioned earlier, there are no locks. I'm not wild on star ratings, but if that is the barometer, Sherm has found value in some three stars.
Strongest Position Group
DB gets the nod here, but it could be the LB corps if Shaun Ward somehow doesn't decommit.
This easily goes to the defensive line where only one prospect is lined up - JUCO LaMarc Strahan. There is no one to play the edge, and depth here was already an issue. I don't know all the ins and outs of the recruiting on this position, but it seems like a major disappointment for 2011.
A frustrating, ho-hum signing day waits for a program that is hopefully turning the corner. Winning recruiting battles over UT and OU at this point should not be the goal of this coaching staff. Losing on too many recruits to programs like Tech, TCU, Oklahoma State, and Baylor is unacceptable and the most glaring threat to an A&M resurgence. The underwhelming nature of this class can be masked by what is being purported as a big 2012, but coaching up this batch is going to be tantamount.
Did class address need?
If "need" was defined as replenishing depth in areas like the OL, LB, and DB, then yes, "need" was addressed. This seems like a reactionary mindset for a rebuilding program, but Sherman has also showed he can find value where others have not.
This class is essentially the opposite of a Dennis Franchione class. Fran loved the splash commitment of a skill player who might have personality issues. He all too often neglected minor things like depth and position needs which ultimately led to his demise. Fran's rate of attrition was inexcusable and a real indictment of his priorities in recruitment. To date, Sherman has recruited kids who stay out of trouble and stay on the team. I think if he finds eight two-year starters in this group it can be remembered as a success. Wednesday will come and go. Time for the staff to burn up the highways for a big 2012 pull. Gig ‘em.