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August 13, 2011

Roundtable: Impact of A&M to SEC

MORE ROUNDTABLES: Aug. 6 | July 29 | July 8 | July 1

Rivals.com football recruiting analysts weigh in on topics in a roundtable format.

What would Texas A&M in the SEC mean for its recruiting? Will it change anything for the Aggies in a major way?

Mike Farrell: There would be a change but not a huge one. Texas A&M would still have to recruit Texas and Oklahoma as much as ever and would still struggle landing those top recruits against the Longhorns and Sooners, especially without the lure for recruits of playing against the two Big 12 powers. It would help a bit in the Southeast for sure and there appears to be enough talent to go around. I think it would certainly help in Louisiana even more with the prospect of playing LSU and others, but it's a bit of a fish out of water thought to me if the Aggies head to the SEC. I don't think the recruiting advantages would be there as much as many people think.

Adam Gorney: I don't think it would make much of a change other than the Aggies might have more luck with higher-profile players from the state of Texas who always dreamed of staying close to home and playing in the SEC. Texas will still get most of the top in-state players especially now with its own network so that will hurt Texas A&M, especially if it stays in the Big 12. A move to the SEC could spark some interest from more Louisiana, Missisippi and maybe Alabama prospects, but I don't think it will have a drastic change either way.

Chris Nee: It helps expand the recruiting base, giving the Aggies more areas that they can tell a prospective student-athlete that they will play a game in. That being said, I don't think it will have that major of an effect where A&M is getting prospects. I don't see it dipping into Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and other SEC territory for more kids and finding great success. This year, the Aggies have 21 commitments with 17 hailing from the Lone Star State. I think that ratio remains relatively the same down the road.

Keith Niebuhr: My guess is, it will help the Aggies a good bit. Traditionally Texas A&M already recruits pretty well, but this opens the door for it being able to grab high-quality kids from across the country who want to compete in what most regard as the sport's top conference. To me, this will help the Aggies go national, something I'm not sure they could do with much success right now.

Brian Perroni: Texas A&M recruits primarily in the state of Texas and, while a move may help sway a couple of prospects who want to play in a different conference than they are used to seeing everyday, I don't think the effect will be too big in the state. The Aggies do venture to Louisiana and even Florida occasionally, though, and I think that is where they will see a benefit. Right now they are seen as an "outsider" in both states but being in the same conference with the in-state schools will change that. As an adverse effect for A&M and Big 12 schools, I think this will cause a lot more recruits from the state of Texas to look toward the SEC.

How much does all the talk of conference realignment nationwide, which is sprouting up again, affect recruiting?

Mike Farrell: When this happened in the past, it didn't affect recruiting at all to my surprise. There was a different rumor every day last summer about some major power heading to a new conference and even the mid-level BCS teams going elsewhere, but the recruits didn't really pay much attention to it until it actually happened. I thought it would have more of an impact than it did back then and it was much worse last summer than it is now, so I don't see it being a factor until actual changes occur.

Adam Gorney: In the West, it has made a big difference especially with Colorado and Utah joining the Pac-12 this year. It's been interesting to see players from the state of Colorado and Utah even more open to leaving for other Pac-12 programs knowing they'll come back a few times during their career to their home states. It has also worked the other way with both new teams recruiting California even harder. Players from that state have a new interest in both Colorado and Utah because multiple times per year they'll be coming back close to home to play. That has been a big recruiting tool for both teams.

Chris Nee: Kids keep an eye on it but ultimately they are choosing a school because of who that school is, the success the school has on the field and the way that school fits them as a player. Short-term, I don't think it has a major impact.

Keith Niebuhr: I really don't believe it's affected it at all at this point. Everything has happened so fast. And like everyone else, the prospects are in wait-and-see mode.

Brian Perroni: It has helped schools such as TCU and Utah that have gone from non-BCS schools to BCS conferences. Other than that, I really don't think it makes too much of a difference to the majority of recruits. Other than markets opening or closing - such as the state of Texas possibly opening up to the SEC and closing to Nebraska and Colorado - I don't think it is a big factor.

Heading into the fall season, which typical recruiting power really needs to pick it up for the 2012 class?

Mike Farrell: I think Oregon needs to step it up a bit. Coming off an appearance in the national title game and with all the excitement we heard about kids and the Ducks the last couple of years, they haven't started off that strong this year. The Will Lyles deal has hurt some, but not enough to warrant a slow start like this. I think the Ducks will pick things up for sure once the games start and prospects start seeing that offense again and a defense that I think is vastly underrated, but right now they look out of place at No. 35 in the nation.

Adam Gorney: Georgia really needs to step it up, doesn't it? Landing five-star offensive lineman John Theus was definitely a major pickup but the Bulldogs only have two four-star prospects in their class. To be fair, Georgia has some junior college prospects who have not been rated yet but coach Mark Richt and his staff must do better. The top player in the state by Rivals.com has pledged to Georgia but the other five committed recruits are headed elsewhere. That's not good enough.

Chris Nee: I don't really think its class is bad, but I am surprised to see Tennessee toward the bottom of the SEC rankings. Derek Dooley and company have gotten some nice commitments, but have only reeled in one four-star so far. That being said, a couple of the Vols' commitments are not yet ranked and perhaps a couple are underranked at this time.

Keith Niebuhr: Tennessee. Right now the Vols have 13 commits, and while it's a solid group it's not what we're accustomed to seeing from this program. However, there is no reason to think they won't finish strong. In recent weeks, Tennessee has started to make a significant move with commitments from players such as quarterback Nathan Peterman, linebackers Otha Peters and Dalton Santos and receiver Keithon Redding - four prospects who have impressed at camps. I'd look for that momentum to continue, meaning this class should start to climb in the rankings. Anyone who counted this staff out a month ago is crazy.

Brian Perroni: Oregon is coming off a national championship game appearance yet the Ducks are only ranked No. 35 in the current team rankings with a mere eight total commits. Only two of those current commits are four-star prospects. There is some uncertainty around the program with accusations of NCAA violations but even Ohio State is far ahead of Oregon in recruiting right now. It seems odd that the Ducks have not been able to parlay their on-field success to a strong start with this class.

Why has August been such a busy month for big commitments? Is it normal to see such a run on big-name prospects this early?

Mike Farrell: A lot of kids want to get their decisions over with before the season starts so they can focus on that. There is always a run of commitments in August every year and this year is no different, but I think you'll see more and more prospects make earlier decisions because the recruiting process after Sept. 1 and especially into December and January can get out of hand.

Adam Gorney: A lot of top guys especially want to end things before their senior school year and season start just so they can focus on other things and not be constantly harassed by everyone about where they're going. After the Elite 11, a lot of top-notch quarterbacks - this year Gunner Kiel, Jameis Winston and Chad Voytik - ended their recruitments and some other high-profile players got it done around that time too. More than anything I think a lot of these top kids have known for a while where they want to go and instead of the constant headache recruiting sometimes brings they just wanted to end it and move on.

Chris Nee: Plain and simple, a lot of colleges are pushing for earlier commitments while a lot of high school coaches, as well as many prospects, just want to get it out of the way before their season starts.

Keith Niebuhr: Because January, February, March, April, May, June and July were just as busy. This year more than ever, prospects are committing early. That means spots are quickly filling up at the top programs and most recruits know if they wait too long they might get burned.

Brian Perroni: In this day and age of early recruiting, committing in August prior to a player's senior year is actually later than average. I think a lot of prospects realize that their final high school season is upon them and they want to enter it with no distractions. While it does not stop, or really even slow down, committing to a program helps ease a player's mind and allows him to focus a little more on the task at hand. With two-a-days starting across the country this past week, it meant a lot of players wanted to get their commitments out of the way ... for now.



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