Dallas Colleges: Kendall Sheffield

If you follow Texas A&M recruiting via social media, you've probably seen the hashtag by now.

#WRTS

Four letters that have become the rallying cry of Aggie recruits, coaches and fans alike. Their meaning? "We run this state."

That's the way the Aggies feel right now when it comes to the state of Texas A&M recruiting, and considering the recruiting prowess they've shown during the Kevin Sumlin era, and particularly this recruiting cycle, it's difficult to debate that point.

A state once ruled in recruiting by Texas and coach Mack Brown in the mid-2000s has seen the balance of power shift roughly 100 miles eastward to College Station, Texas. In the Longhorns' heyday, it seemed as if they could land any in-state prospect they wished and right now, it almost seems as if the Aggies are enjoying that fortune themselves.

This week has illustrated that to a certain extent. Thursday was a big day for the Aggies as they landed two prospects out of Texas high school football power Cedar Hill High School: ESPN 300 receiver DaMarkus Lodge and outside linebacker Richard Moore.

Earlier this week, the Aggies also scored pledges from four-star offensive tackle Keaton Sutherland and three-star linebacker Landis Durham. That's not to mention that earlier this month, they landed four-star defensive tackle Kingsley Keke and last month received a commitment from ESPN 300 WR Kemah Siverand and perhaps their most impactful recruit of the cycle, five-star quarterback Kyler Murray.

Texas A&M is on quite the recruiting roll.

The Aggies' class, which is ranked No. 3 in the ESPN Recruiting Nation class rankings, holds 17 commitments, nine of whom are in the ESPN 300, and the class has 13 prospects with four-star-or-higher ratings. The Aggies hold commitments from the Lone Star State's No. 1 quarterback (Murray), receiver (Lodge), tight end (Jordan Davis) and defensive tackle (five-star prospect Daylon Mack).

Two of the state's top three players are committed to the Aggies and three of the top eight. And when it's all said and done, the Aggies could finish with four of the top five and five of the top 10 in Texas if their pursuit of cornerback Kendall Sheffield and linebacker Malik Jefferson falls their way. Neither has plans to announce his destination anytime soon, but the Aggies are strong players for both, and if that were to happen, the Aggies would lay claim to the state's top player at six different positions.


That would be a rough fate for the Aggies' chief recruiting rival (though no longer on-field rival) Texas and new coach Charlie Strong, who is already feeling the effects of A&M's success. But in reality, this isn't about Texas for the Aggies. It's about building a team and program that can compete and succeed long term in what many consider to be the country's toughest conference, the SEC.

With the Lone Star State being such fertile recruiting ground, the competition for talent will always be fierce. Whether it's Texas, a surging Baylor program that is reaching unprecedented success under Art Briles, a young, energetic, charismatic staff led by Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech, TCU's presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex or staving off out-of-state schools such as Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and other national powers, it's impossible to get every prospect desired from the large pool of talent Texas provides. But snagging most of the desired prospects bodes well for the future.

Texas A&M must continue to produce on-field success this fall -- let's not forget, the Aggies' 20-6 run in their first two seasons as SEC members and the visibility provided by having a Heisman Trophy winner are significant factors why the Aggies are such an attractive option to recruits right now. And teenagers can be fickle, making recruiting an unpredictable roller coaster until pen meets paper on the first Wednesday in February.

But if the Aggies can hang on to the high-level prospects they've already gained pledges from and continue recruiting at their current pace, the effects could be felt well beyond the state's borders, throughout SEC country and across the nation in years to come.

Texas has a state recruiting problem

June, 19, 2014
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Charlie Strong has a Texas-sized problem on his hands.

When a new coach is hired, especially at a place like The University of Texas, it usually creates excitement with prospects and high school coaches on the recruiting trail. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, that buzz isn’t there. With the addition of ESPN 300 receiver DaMarkus Lodge on Thursday, Texas A&M further tightened its grip on the top talent in the Lone Star State.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Strong
AP Photo/Eric GayCharlie Strong still has nearly eight months to bolster his 2015 recruiting class.
Lodge’s pledge gives A&M three of the top eight players in Texas and positions the Aggies for a run that could include four of the top five and five of the top 10.

On the other hand, the Longhorns, whose 2015 class is ranked No. 11 in ESPN's rankings, are struggling within their home state. Texas has yet to gain a commit from a top-10 in-state player. To make matters worse, Strong’s staff is losing commits to conference rivals and SEC powers in Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, LSU and Oklahoma.

“In the state of Texas, A&M has taken over,” Cedar Hill (Texas) High School coach Joey McGuire said. “Through what coach [Kevin] Sumlin has done and then what Johnny Manziel did to help put that school in such a great position, it's helped them move to whole different level. They're the hot thing going right now. It's hard to beat, even for a program like Texas.”

As any Texas fan will tell you, there’s nothing worse than losing to the hated Aggies. The recruiting beatdown could continue as A&M is in good position with cornerback Kendall Sheffield, linebacker Malik Jefferson, defensive end James Lockhart and cornerback Kris Boyd -- all ESPN 300 prospects strongly considering playing in College Station.

A Big 12 assistant who recruits in the Lone Star State said he could see that Texas would have problems on the recruiting trail the minute Strong announced his staff. The assistant praised Strong for luring Joe Wickline away from Oklahoma State and believes his addition will help the Longhorns find some hidden gems along the offensive line. But after that, the assistant said it was hardly the all-star cast many thought Strong could assemble, given the school’s resources.

“I thought [Strong] needed to bring in guys that can stand toe-to-toe against A&M, LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma and all the other top teams that recruit in Texas,” the coach said. “He needed guys that had deep ties with the high school coaches in Texas. Instead, he got a lot of coaches that can win recruiting battles against Cincinnati, UCF and teams like that. This is the Big 12, not the AAC.”

In defense of the Longhorns, Strong did retain Bruce Chambers, who is entering his 17th season in Austin and has connections with high school football in the state. He also hired Les Koenning, a 1981 Texas graduate who is entering his 34th year of coaching after previous stops at Mississippi, South Alabama, Texas A&M, Alabama, TCU, Houston, Duke, Rice and Louisiana-Lafayette.

Replacing Mack Brown wasn’t going to be easy. Replacing the relationships he so tirelessly built with Texas high school coaches will take some time.

All of this has made Strong’s job of recruiting local talent more difficult than most assumed it would be when he was first hired six months ago. But all is not lost. There has been no shortage of effort from the Longhorns’ staff, and Strong can sway some recruits with a simple formula this fall: winning.

“If Charlie Strong comes out and wins, there might be another flip,” McGuire said. “If they can come out and surprise some people this year and win games, then they’re going to be the hot team with recruits. Winning and losing is going to make a big part of those schools' recruiting classes.”

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

May, 12, 2014
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Here's the latest in recruiting around the Big 12:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 9
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The Bears nabbed one of the state of Texas' better defensive backs this weekend when Missouri City Ridge Point three-star CB Jordan Tolbert announced his pledge on Friday. Tolbert, who reopened his recruitment after an early commitment to Houston, held offers from Texas, Oklahoma and several other big-time programs. He and top-rated BU pledge John Humphrey Jr. are working to get S P.J. Locke on board next.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 1
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: One name to keep an eye on that's firmly on the Cyclones' radar is three-star Chicago Marist WR Flynn Nagel. In addition to ISU, he holds offers from several Big Ten schools including Illinois, Indiana and Purdue. Bobby McMillen, ISU's lone commitment so far, is working hard to get Nagle to join him in Ames.

KANSAS
Total commits: 1
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks have landed three transfer quarterbacks since Charlie Weis took over. Could they get in the mix for another this spring? Redshirt freshman Trent Hosick is looking for his next school after electing to transfer from Missouri. No guarantee KU would go after him now, but he did have an offer from the program out of high school. Hosick does plan to take an official visit to BYU.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 1
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Kansas State recently extended an offer to RB Alec Murphy of Nixa, Mo., but it faces some stiff competition to keep him close to home. Michigan also offered, and Murphy is interested in Mississippi State and Iowa. Still, expect KSU to get a visit from Murphy in the near future.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 4
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: OU is back up to four commitments in the 2015 class with the addition of K/P Austin Seibert. High school kicker experts (yes, that's a thing) say the Belleville (Ill.) West senior-to-be is the nation's best placekicker and just as good a punter. Seibert had eight other offers, and it's a good get for the Sooners. He can help in whatever role needed when he gets on campus.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 5
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Oklahoma State made another big, big addition from the Lone Star State on Sunday when CB Jaylon Lane announced he'll be a Cowboy. The No. 73 player in the ESPN 300 from Nacogdoches, Texas, was absolutely coveted this spring, with more than 35 schools extending offers, but Lane thinks he has a chance to become the next Justin Gilbert when he arrives in Stillwater.

TCU
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: As the quarterback dominos start falling around the country, watch Quinten Dormady blow up. The Boerne, Texas, standout's recruitment is picking up steam after he missed his junior year with an injury, and he does hold a TCU offer. Oklahoma State entered the mix Sunday, and Texas could end up offering as well.

TEXAS
Total commits: 9
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: No new commitments, but it was still a relatively big weekend for Texas recruiting. With the UIL state track meet just across the street from the Longhorns' football office, Charlie Strong's staff got a chance to host some big-time talent, including ESPN 300 recruits Kendall Sheffield, Kris Boyd and Ryan Newsome. Manvel 2016 safety Deontay Anderson, who already holds more than 15 offers, got one more from the Horns this weekend. He'd received one from the Mack Brown staff a year ago as well.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Red Raiders landed a new pledge this weekend from Missouri City (Texas) Elkins ATH Jonathan Giles. TTU beat out Missouri and six other schools for Giles, who plays QB in high school and probably translates as a receiver in the Red Raiders' scheme. Even better news, Tech RB commit Corey Dauphine won a state title in the 200-meter dash Saturday with a blazing time of 20.76 seconds.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers joined the long, long list of schools pursuing ESPN 300 TE Will Gragg when they extended an offer on Sunday. The Pine Bluff, Ark., four-star talent is the top-rated prospect in his home state. You name 'em, they've offered Gragg. It won't be easy for WVU to get Gragg on campus, not when he has so many other suitors and Arkansas desperate to lock him up, but Gragg is definitely worth all the offers.

ESPN 300: Top Big 12 targets 

April, 16, 2014
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The spring evaluation period is upon us, and coaches are traveling and hosting spring games in an effort to evaluate and attract the nation’s elite prospects. Fortunately for coaches, roughly two-thirds of the players making up the 2015 ESPN 300 are still uncommitted. A large majority of those players are considering playing in the Big 12.

Here are five ESPN 300 players heavily targeted by Big 12 schools:

Baylor commits envision bright future

December, 30, 2013
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An 11-1 season resulted in a school-record for victories. There was also a first-ever Big 12 title and first-ever BCS bowl berth. And a new, state-of-the-art stadium is something to look forward to for next season.

[+] EnlargeK.D. Cannon
Max Olson/ESPN.comESPN 300 wide receiver K.D. Cannon likes what he's sees from Baylor's recruits.
Not a bad season for the Baylor Bears. And if Baylor's commits have anything to do with it, the 2013 success is just the beginning.

A group of commits are beyond elated about the future of the program. Baylor has 27 commits in its 2014 class -- four of whom have already signed as mid-year, junior-college transfers -- and three are in its 2015 class. The Bears have four ESPN 300 players, one ESPN Junior College 50 player and one ESPN Junior 300 player.

Ask the commits, and the classes get high marks. And, to many, rightfully so. “A-plus,” said ESPN 300 athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau). “We have people that play different positions and not just same ones.”

“Scale of 1-10, I’ll give it a 10,” added ESPN 300 wide receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant). “Baylor has done a good job in getting players who want to win and play every game like it’s his last. We don’t have a lot of five-star people, but we all are willing to show the world that stars don’t mean anything.”

When Baylor held its first junior day of 2013, it was fortunate to land verbals from three standouts in Hall, running back Terence Williams (Ennis, Texas/Ennis) and wide receiver Chris Platt (Willis, Texas/Willis). Since then, Baylor’s class has grown to become a top-20 class nationally. The Bears are ranked No. 16 in the latest RecruitingNation class rankings, second only to No. 13 Texas in the Big 12 conference rankings.

ESPN 300 wide receiver Ishmael Zamora (Houston/Alief Elsik) graded the class a “95,” a quality mark considering he’s very critical of giving it or any other group a perfect score. Zamora is a fan of this class, and he’s excited about his future teammates. Statistically, Baylor has 14 defensive commits, 11 offensive commits and two who could see time on both sides of the ball.

“We got basically all position [players] who were top talent and can flat-out ball,” Zamora said.

The missing link of the class, according to Zamora? A lack of a quarterback commit. Every wide receiver commit wants his own quarterback in the class, but the Bears won’t be hurting for a signal-caller in the immediate future. Bryce Petty said he will return to Baylor for his senior season. Seth Russell just finished his redshirt freshman campaign, Andrew Frerking will be a junior, and Cole Edmiston and Chris Johnson -- an ESPN 300 player from the 2013 class -- will be sophomores.

And then there’s the 2015 class. Baylor received commits from ESPN Junior 300 athlete Chad President (Temple, Texas/Temple) and three-star athlete Blake Lynch (Troup, Texas/Troup) -- two players who can line up at both quarterback and wide receiver.

For both President and Lynch, who still have a year of high school ball remaining, the goals of following in the footsteps of this Baylor squad are sky high -- and attainable.
“Another Big 12 championship,” President said, referring to upcoming college goals. “Hopefully, we can play in the national championship game. We have an A-plus, five-star recruiting class.”

Lynch added: “I think we have one of the best 2014 recruiting classes in the nation. Our versatility and diversity is what makes our 2014 class special.”


I think we have one of the best 2014 recruiting classes in the nation. Our versatility and diversity is what makes our 2014 class special.


-- Baylor commit Blake Lynch
Three-star safety Chance Waz (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson), the latest high school player to commit to the Bears, switched his pledge to Baylor from Nebraska. He wanted the opportunity to play close to home, and he's excited about the talent he’ll be surrounded by. Waz said the 2014 Baylor class could be compared to Ole Miss' 2013 class, a group that saw several freshmen thrust into starting positions and become major contributors in the super-competitive SEC.

“A lot of Ole Miss players saw PT [playing time]. I follow at least five [of them] on Twitter,” Waz said. “I think a lot of us can get playing time; we just have to see what we do in camp.”

When asked about the comparison and the shot at immediate playing time, Hall said, “It all depends on us and work ethic, but I don’t think that will be a problem.”

Expect all of the commits to be paying full attention to Baylor as it faces Central Florida on Jan. 1 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. And they'll continue monitoring who commits between now and Feb. 6, the first day to sign a national letter of intent. And they're watching the 2015 class as well.

Cannon said there are tons of talented players he’d love to call a teammate. And there’s one in particular, however, who has caught his eye.

“I hope we get that No. 1 corner,” Cannon said, referring to ESPN Junior 300 Kendall Sheffield (Missouri City, Texas/Fort Bend Marshall), the nation’s No. 13 overall player and the top-ranked player in Texas for the 2015 class. Sheffield has a Baylor offer but also has offers from Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU, Texas, Ohio State, Oklahoma and a host of other recruiting heavyweights.

Time will tell, but it looks like Baylor has set a new bar. And it doesn’t plan on looking back.

Big 12 recruiting storylines: Sept. 26 

September, 26, 2013
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In this week’s Big 12 recruiting storylines we take a look at a big weekend ahead for Oklahoma and West Virginia, the successful weekend that was for the Longhorns, TCU targeting another state and much more.


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Big 12 class rankings analysis 

September, 18, 2013
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None of the Big 12’s representatives in the ESPN class rankings made a move up or down. Texas is still No. 7, Baylor is No. 17, Oklahoma is No. 22 and Oklahoma State is No. 29. But a team outside of the rankings is making a move with its first commitment in almost two months. Here’s this week’s edition of the Big 12 class ranking analysis.

Trending up: Iowa State is on the up-and-up, at least momentarily, after its commitment from three-star athlete Dedric Brinson on Monday. It was the Cyclones’ first commitment since July 25. Brinson (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) had plenty of other offers, including from Duke, Indiana, Marshall, Massachusetts, Central Florida, Wake Forest and Wisconsin. But he chose to travel out of state to play for Paul Rhodes, and, in doing so, gives ISU another playmaker. The Cyclones already have commitments from ESPN 300 wide receiver Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale), three-star running back Tommy Mister (Chicago/Saint Rita), three-star RB Martinez Syria (Houston/Nimitz), three-star WR Orion Salters (Dallas/Jesuit), three-star tight end Scott Schaffner (Peculiar, Mo./Ray-Pec) and three-star WR Jauan Wesley (Harvey, Ill./Thornton Township).

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College football is finally upon us, which means it's time to take a look at the happenings in the Big 12. Two games will take place in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex -- Texas Tech traveling to Dallas to face SMU on Aug. 30, and TCU taking on LSU at Cowboys Stadium on Aug. 31 -- will be crawling with recruits. Here’s a look at the rest of the Big 12 storylines:

Huge week for TCU
There won’t be many games across the country that garner more attention this weekend than TCU’s “home game” against LSU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. It’s a golden opportunity for Gary Patterson and his program to begin the year with a statement victory and show recruits the type of attention and results they can receive by committing to TCU. The list of visitors won’t be fully known until Saturday at game-time, but you can bet it will be extensive. A few big names have already said they’ll be in attendance in addition to all of TCU’s commitments. They include ESPN 300 DE Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/Martin), ESPN 300 DE Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell), ESPN 300 offensive guard Braden Smith (Olathe, Kan./Olathe South) and three-star Minnesota OG commitment Connor Mayes (Van Alstyne, Texas/Van Alstyne). ESPN Junior 300 DT Daylon Mack (Gladewater, Texas/Gladewater) and ESPN Junior 300 safety Larry Pryor (Sulphur Springs, Texas/Sulphur Springs) will be there as will Class of 2016 running back Kameron Martin (Port Arthur, Texas/Memorial). He has offers from Akron, Baylor and Texas Tech, and has visited LSU twice.

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