Top 10 Aggie Recruiting Targets

1. LB Malik Jefferson (5-star recruit)
The 5-star linebacker is exactly what this coaching staff needs as they look to return the defense to ‘Wrecking Crew’ status. He is 6’3” 215lbs and is listed as the #1 player in Texas and the 22nd best player (Rivals). Malik has explosiveness and speed that few linebackers possess.

At the Nike Opening this summer, Malik shocked the nation with his 4.39 40-yard dash. This time was better than any NFL linebacker has posted since 2006. He also ran a 4.19 shuttle and notched a 39.7 inch vertical. This coupled with his 40 time gave him the 2nd highest SPARQ score, only behind Aggie target Kirk Merrit.

Decision Date: Friday, December 19, 2014

2. DB Kendall Sheffield (5-star recruit)
Coach Sumlin and staff have made it a priority to increase the depth and talent at defensive back since arriving in College Station. In 2013, they recruited blue chips Tavares Garner and Noel Ellis while also adding speedster Alex Sezer. Nick Harvey was the lone defensive back recruited in 2014, but has shown his merit already given the ample playing time he has received. Finally, with Deshawn Capers-Smith and Roney Elam already committed for 2015, the coaching staff may be looking to bring on only one more defensive back.

While all those prior recruits have increased the profile of this position group, none have been as talented or highly rated as Kendall Sheffield. The 5-star defensive back is listed as the 5th best player in Texas and the 43rd best player in the nation. He operates at an elite level in coverage utilizing his top-end speed (4.4 second 40-yard dash) and his acceleration to shut down opponents. The other area that impresses is his leaping ability. Sheffield has a natural instinct on when to high point the ball and uses his 41.7 inch vertical to his advantage.

Decision Date: Friday, January 2, 2015 (Under Armour All-American Game)

3. WR Christian Kirk (5-star recruit)
The 5-star wide receiver is 5’11” 190lbs. and is listed as the 3rd best receiver in the nation. From Arizona, Kirk has always expressed an interest in playing with fellow Arizona native Kyle Allen. When the 5-star quarterback committed to A&M this past February, the Aggies instantly became serious contenders in Kirk’s recruitment. And now that Allen is A&M’s starting quarterback, the Allen to Kirk connection looks to be more likely than ever.

Kirk set the Arizona state record for career receiving yards with a total of 3,943. And with 203 catches and 52 touchdowns over his high school career, he is averaging 19.4 yards per catch and scoring a touchdown once every 4 receptions. The highly sought after receiver has an offer list larger than anyone I’ve ever seen. He has taken official visits to UCLA, Auburn, Texas A&M, and most recently Arizona State. While this recruiting battle could be a close one, the 5-star wide out might not be able to pass up the Kyle-to-Kirk Arizona connection.

Decision Date: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

4. WR/RB Kirk Merritt – (4-star recruit)
The Aggies have an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver and could soon add another. The 4-star recruit has stated that he wants to play wide receiver in college despite playing mostly running back in high school. It’s a smart move when you consider the NFL landscape and it’s a move that works great for A&M. They can utilize him in the slot, on sweep plays, and even line him in the return game. All Coach Sumlin needs to do is point to fellow Louisiana native Speedy Noil to demonstrate just how many ways A&M can showcase his talents.

Kirk Merritt stands 5’11” tall and weighs 203lbs. This summer at the Nike SPARQ competition, he took home first place with a 4.43s 40 yard dash, a 4.03 shuttle time, and an incredible 45.8in vertical leap. As a reference point for Aggies everywhere, Speedy Noil was last year’s SPARQ champion. Just imagine Speedy Noil and Kirk Merritt lined up together on kickoff returns. That combo would be absolutely deadly.

Decision Date: Wednesday, February 4, 2015 (National Signing Day)

5. LB Ricky DeBerry (4-star recruit)
For the 2015 class, the Aggies already have commits from 4 linebackers (Landis Durham, Riley Garner, Claude George, and Richard Moore). But with Durham playing his senior season at defensive end, the Aggies may choose to keep him there in college. And with Garner’s injury sidelining him all of 2014, his future remains tentative. Furthermore, Richard Moore seemed to decommit last month before saying that he was still solid to A&M. It’s best to consider him a soft pledge at this point. This leaves the Aggies with possibly only 1 true linebacker and the need for at least 2 more. The dream scenario would be for the Ags to land both Malik Jefferson and Ricky DeBerry while retaining the commitment from the others.

DeBerry is 6’2” 240lbs and would most likely project at middle linebacker for A&M. He has a 4.63 40, a 35” vertical, a 320lbs bench press, and a 510lbs squat. The explosive playmaker does a great job of shedding blockers and getting to the ball carrier. That being said, his size might be his greatest asset in that it he is already equipped to play immediately at the next level.

Decision Date: Friday, December 19, 2014

6. DaMarkus Lodge (5-star recruit)
The state’s top wide receiver decommitted from A&M on September 18, 2014. With family in Mississippi and a former teammate on Ole Miss (WR Quincy Adeboyejo), the Rebels have been the presumed favorites to steal the Texas product. An interesting wrinkle in his recruitment is the Aggies interest in Darrell Wyatt for the vacant WR coaching position. Wyatt used to coach at Oklahoma and helped mold former Sooner wide receiver David Robinson. Robinson is DaMarkus Lodge’s personal trainer and has maintained a close relationship with Wyatt over the years.

Because of this connection, Lodge was close to committing to the Longhorns in 2013 when Mack Brown and Darrell Wyatt still coached at Texas. But following Mack’s resignation, Wyatt was not retained by the Strong coaching staff and Lodge was no longer interested in the Longhorns. It has been lightly considered that whoever hires Darrell Wyatt would gain a huge edge in Lodge’s recruitment. If A&M choses to go this direction and hires Wyatt, they would be getting a great position coach, an even better recruiter, and possibly a 5-star wide receiver.

Decision Date: None

7. The Running Back
After not taking a single running back in 2014, the Aggies will definitely want to add two for the 2015 class. They already have a commit from 4-star running back Jay Bradford which gives them room for one more. There are several top prospects in the mix including Soso Jamabo (5-star), Ronald Jones III (4-star), and Kendall Bussey (4-star). With the recent decommitments for Oklahoma State (Jones) and Bussey (Nebraska), all 3 running backs are getting serious consideration from the A&M coaching staff.

Several state schools are in play for Soso (Baylor, Texas, and A&M) along with a couple of others (UCLA and Notre Dame). Ronald Jones has received several predictions for both USC and Notre Dame following his decommitment from Oklahoma State. However, the one that seems headed to Aggieland is Louisiana native Kendall Bussey. The 4-star prospect makes his decision on Friday, December 19, 2014 and could give the Aggies that 2nd running back that they need.

Decision Date: Friday, December 19, 2014

8. DB Kris Boyd (4-star recruit)
This one may come down to the numbers. The Aggies have two 4-star defensive backs already committed in Roney Elam and Deshawn Capers-Smith. Furthermore, they are holding a spot for 5-star Kendall Sheffield who doesn’t announce until January 2nd but is expected to pick A&M. The greater need for A&M is at linebacker and when it comes down to the numbers, the coaching staff could extend a late offer to an underrated prospect rather than taking Kris Boyd.

The 4-star recruit is 6’0” 180lbs and has been clocked at a 4.45 second 40. He is excellent in press coverage by using his long arms and physical play to stall wide receivers from getting into their routes. Although it was seldom run this past season, this is the type of coverage that defensive backs coach Terry Joseph prefers. Boyd is also an excellent tackler and likes to lay big hits on his opponent. In all, Boyd is a tremendous athlete very deserving of his top 100 national ranking. Should the scholarship numbers work out, A&M could try and bring Boyd on as a late addition before signing day.

Decision Date: None

9. LB/WR DeAndre McNeal (4-star recruit)
The Aggies are poised to receive commitments from Poteet High School teammates Malik Jefferson and DeAndre McNeal. Everyone knows about Jefferson, the state’s top recruit and #1 outside linebacker nationally. But few have followed teammate DeAndre McNeal as closely. Mesquite’s coach Kody Groves projects that he will make a huge impact at the next level,

“DeAndre doesn’t always get categorized as the best one of those two. It wouldn’t shock me, in a couple of years, if that guy is not the name that everybody knows. They may know Malik, too. But I’m telling you, DeAndre, he’s a different type of player.”

McNeal has expressed an interest in playing wide receiver at the next level despite his impressive ability at linebacker. He holds a notable offer list including Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio St, Texas, and Texas A&M. He gained A&M’s attention after Sumlin flew the Swagcopter to watch Malik Jefferson play. In that game, McNeal posted 2 touchdown receptions on offense and 3 sacks on defense. With his impressive play on both sides of the ball, the Aggies would be lucky to have him.

Decision Date: Friday, December 19, 2014

10. The Longhorn Flip
Last year it was Otaro Alaka and Zaycoven Henderson, two defensive 4-stars. The year before Sumlin stole 5-star WR Ricky Seals-Jones. Consistently dominating the head to head battles against Texas is one thing, but each year Sumlin likes to take it a step further and cherry pick 1 or 2 elite recruits away from the Longhorns. This year, I’d expect nothing less. While the Longhorns have struggled on the recruiting trail since Sumlin’s arrival, there are a couple commits that the Aggies might consider taking before National Signing Day arrives.

First, there is offensive guard Patrick Vahe out of Trinity High School. The 4-star lineman took an unofficial visit to A&M for the Ole Miss game. He left impressed and wanting an A&M offer, but he has not received one….yet. Secondly, there is safety DeShon Elliot. The 4-star product chose the Longhorns over the Aggies on March 18th, marking the one and only head to head recruiting win Charlie Strong holds over Sumlin. Elliot also visited A&M this fall and is considering making the switch. The only question is whether Sumlin takes him or not. The Aggies already have 2 of the state’s top safeties committed along with the #1 JUCO safety in the nation.

Decision Date: None

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