Elite Defensive Recruits Poised to Bring Back Wrecking Crew

The 2015 recruiting class has taken shape over the past several weeks. In the wake of Kyler Murray’s commitment, the coaching staff has pulled in 7 additional recruits with 3 being on the defensive side of the ball. It began with the Aggies stealing defensive tackle Kingsley Keke who was labeled as a sure-fire Texas commit. Then just last week, A&M landed a pair of linebackers in Landis Durham and Richard Moore. To date, the 2015 recruiting class has 18 recruits with half on the defensive side of the ball.

Below is a list of the defensive recruits for 2015 that A&M is targeting along with the ones that have already verbally committed (in bold). If you have not yet seen my list of offensive recruits, check them out here. 

Defensive Tackle
Daylon Mack (5-star recruit) – 6’0” 309lbs. – Gladewater, TX
Kingsley Keke (3-star recruit) – 6’3” 290lbs. – Richmond, TX
Demond Tucker (3-star recruit) – 6’1” 285lbs. – Wesson, MS

Texas A&M is building a defensive line that would make the likes of LSU and Bama proud. In Sumlin’s first full recruiting year (2013), he and DL coach Terry Price pulled in 3 of the state’s top defensive tackles in Hardreck Walker, Justin Manning, and recently departed Isaiah Golden. While the loss of Golden certainly will hurt the team, both Walker and Manning are very capable of rectifying the defensive line’s depth issues from last season. Then in this past recruiting class, the staff cherry picked the top two talents in the state in DeShawn Washington and early enrollee Zaycoven Henderson. Both have the size and capability to contribute immediately. For the 2015 recruiting class, the Aggies locked up the state’s top talent early with Daylon Mack’s commitment. They are most likely sitting pat with him and 3-star talent Kingsley Keke. However, Demond Tucker is an interesting prospect to keep an eye on. At Copiah-Lincoln C.C., the 3-star prospect led his team with 13 sacks.

Defensive End
James Lockhart (4-star recruit) – 6’3” 247lbs. – Ennis, TX

The Aggies have yet to land a defensive end in this year’s recruiting class. The primary reason is the massive void at this particular position in Texas. Last year the state yielded one of the best defensive ends ever to come through Texas High School football, Miles Garrett. He was a top priority for the Ags from day one and should find himself terrorizing SEC quarterbacks in just two months. This year the coaching staff has only placed one offer to an in-state defensive end, James Lockhart. The 4-star prospect is locked between A&M and Alabama and should finalize his decision in the coming months. The lack of talent in Texas hasn’t been a complete loss though. Defensive line coach Terry Price, regarded as one of A&M’s top recruiters, has used this year to develop inroads with high school coaches in Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia. 8 of the 12 offers that the Aggies have made at this position have come from those areas. While the Aggies may not land an out of state defensive end this year, his efforts should pay dividends in the future. 

Linebacker
Landis Durham (3-star recruit) – 6’2” 225lbs. – Plano, TX
Riley Garner (3-star recruit) – 6’3” 215lbs. – College Station, TX
Richard Moore (3-star recruit) – 6’2” 225lbs. – Plano, TX
Malik Jefferson (5-star recruit) – 6’2” 220lbs. – Mesquite, TX
Arthur McGinnis (4-star recruit) – 6’2” 224lbs. – New Orleans, TX

The linebacker class came into focus last week when Landis Durham and Richard Moore both committed to the Aggies in a 5 day span. And with Malik Jefferson and Arthur McGinnis both Aggie leans, the group appears to be getting very crowded. However, Landis Durham played defensive end his sophomore year and made a huge impact with 7 sacks and Newcomer of the Year honors. After a junior season at outside linebacker, it looks like the coach may move him back to his more natural position for his senior year. Leaving his at this position in college would solve the lack of defensive end options that the Aggies are facing as well as free up space for both Jefferson and McGinnis to join. While it appears inevitable that the 5-star talent will end up choosing the Ags, Malik has said repeatedly that he does not plan to make a decision until after his upcoming football season.

Cornerback
Deshawn Capers-Smith (4-star recruit) – 5’11” 172lbs. – New Orleans, LA
Kendall Sheffield (5-star recruit) – 5’11” 183lbs. – Missouri City, TX
Kris Boyd (4-star recruit) – 6’0” 180lbs. – Gilmer, TX
Holton Hill (4-star recruit) – 6’2” 175lbs. – Houston, TX
Roney Elam (3-star recruit) – 6’3” 170lbs. – Newton, TX

The position group that looks to make the most noise in the coming months is this year’s cornerback class. 3 of the top 5 cornerbacks in Texas are still undecided and each of them are considered Aggie leans to some degree. Kendall Sheffield, considered by many to be the #1 prospect in Texas, plans to hold off until January of 2015 before making a decision. However, 247’s Crystal Ball has him a 96% favorite to choose the Ags. Kris Boyd, the state’s 2nd best cornerback has come very close to shutting things down a number of times. Look for him to also choose the Aggies when he finally decides. After that, the Aggies look to bring on one other recruit. Right now, Holton Hill is considered the better prospect. But he has been considered a Texas lean and has kept his recruitment very close to the vest. Look for him or Roney Elam to pick A&M giving the Aggies 4 cornerbacks for this class.

Safety
Justin Dunning (4-star recruit) – 6’3” 190lbs. – Whitehouse, TX
Larry Prior (4-star recruit) – 5’11” 192lbs. – Sulphur Springs, TX
Justin Evans (4-star recruit) – 6’1″ 185lbs. – JUCO Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.

The biggest area of need the Aggies face is at the safety position. All three players (Matthews, Raven, and Honeycutt) with any significant playing time to date are entering their final season. Furthermore, the loss of Kameron Miles in the offseason was a huge blow as he looked to push Howard Matthews for a starting spot. The coaching staff recognized this lack of depth early and landed 2 of the top 3 safeties in Texas with Justin Dunning and Larry Prior. Both are 4-star prospects that have a chance to make an immediate impact in 2015. Then to top it all off, the coaching staff went out and snagged the nation’s top JUCO safety in Justin Evans. Last year at Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C., Evans racked up 47 tackles, 5 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles. He is a playmaker that will most likely land one of the starting jobs next season. Look for the coaches to sit pat with these 3 recruits until National Signing Day.

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