Sherman expects recruits to push for playing time

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Despite struggling through a disappointing 4-8 season in 2008, Texas A&M's incoming recruiting class never wavered.

Most of the key players were added last spring and summer long before coach Mike Sherman's first season as the Aggies' head coach. But the arriving Aggie recruits remained resolute despite struggles that included losses to all five South Division foes for the first time in school history.

"We didn't have a defection that I can recall during the course of the season," Sherman said. "Obviously as a coach, you worry about everything and that certainly crossed my mind a number of times. I would call these kids on Mondays and Tuesdays and they'd be picking me up. 'Hey coach, we'll be okay. Just hang in there.' They were giving me a pep talk."

Texas A&M's key recruit will be running back Christine Michael of Beaumont (Texas) West Brook, who was ranked as the nation's fourth-best running back by Scouts Inc. and the No. 35 prospect on the ESPNU 150.

"I expect no more from him than anybody else, but he is someone that has tremendous talent," Sherman said. "I think he's a player that we'll accelerate the learning curve for him and get him on the field."

The Aggies lost Michael Goodson and Jorvorskie Lane after last season, providing an immediate chance for Michael to see action.

"As evident during last season, we need more explosive plays," Sherman said. "And I think that player [Michael] can get those for us."

Other specific needs addressed in the 28-man recruiting class included help along the offensive line and at linebacker.

Sherman said he expects several players from his recruiting class to immediately challenge for playing time. And he's already braced players currently on the Aggies' roster to expect some stiff battles for starting positions once the freshman class arrives.

"With the influx of this group of young men, there will be a lot of competition," Sherman said. "We had seven or eight freshmen starters last year. There's a good chance we'll have an equal number this year. If anything else, the thing that excites me is that competition. You can only get better if someone is breathing down your neck and trying to take your job."