With less than a week to college football's most significant offseason event—National Signing Day—Texas A&M continues to fight on multiple fronts for top-tier recruits to round out its third-ranked overall class. With elite prospects committed on both sides of the ball, these final battles will mark important storylines as the Aggies look to hold on to a highly-ranked group of athletes.
Bleacher Report delves into head coach Kevin Sumlin's top five recruiting tug-of-wars as the clock continues to tick toward Feb. 5 and National Signing Day.
All recruiting information courtesy of 247 Sports.
After Texas A&M lost its top safety prospect in Dylan Sumner-Gardner to Boise State, the Aggies have been searching for a replacement in a class that desperately needs talented defensive backs. With Steven Parker still on the ropes between the Aggies and Oklahoma, Sumlin and his staff have looked elsewhere, and Donovan Wilson has been their man thus far.
However, with him recently giving a verbal commitment to Utah, and Alabama considering with a possible offer, Wilson is no guarantee. If Parker falls short and opts for the Sooners, the Aggies will be turning to Wilson to fill his slot, but the question remains whether or not he will be available.
An invaluable addition at linebacker, Kenny Young has narrowed down his college search to three programs: UCLA, Texas A&M and in-state favorite LSU. The Tigers have held the edge most of the recruiting process, and, while UCLA has remained a competitor, the Aggies have been an outside dark horse with shallow possibility of landing Young.
Entering the final week or so before Young announces live during National Signing Day, all three certainly stand a fighting chance of picking up his commitment. Overall, the advantage still falls to LSU, but expect both A&M and UCLA to prove tough competition.
After Sumlin hired on defensive backs coach Terry Joseph a few weeks ago, the former Nebraska staffer's first move was offering a scholarship to Mattrell McGraw, and, with his recruitment, A&M finds itself among the final two in the Louisiana native's decision. While Oregon continues to hold the lead over the Aggies, McGraw's choice will come down to National Signing Day during his live announcement, and A&M will remain a contender for his commitment until then.
McGraw would mark an invaluable pickup for the A&M secondary, and Joseph's immediate move to bring him into the fold shows his desire to have him on board. Considering how weak the Aggie defensive backs were last season alone, McGraw adding to the competition would be a welcome addition.
As a 6'6", 290-pound offensive guard, Braden Smith has generated national attention for years, picking up offers from multiple powers around the country. However, with less than a week remaining in his recruitment, Smith has narrowed his choices down to three programs: TCU, Texas A&M and Auburn, leaving the Aggies in contention for adding a big-time four-star prospect and jewel offensive lineman to an already impressive class.
Over the past few years, A&M has shown a skill for producing top-tier offensive linemen, sending Luke Joeckel to the NFL Draft as the second overall selection last year and aiming for Jake Matthews to do similar. However, Smith owns ties to in-state competitor TCU with his sister currently attending the Fort Worth-based campus, leaving A&M on the outside-looking-in during the final days leading up to National Signing Day.
Steven Parker—the Golden Goose safety recruit Texas A&M continues to hold out hope for entering the last stretch prior to National Signing Day. The Oklahoma native has been on the fence for weeks now between the Aggies and in-state favorite Oklahoma, and, following A&M's loss of stud Dylan Sumner-Gardner to Boise State, Sumlin and his staff have hotly recruited the four-star prospect.
Considering Parker's skills and the Aggies' lack of an effective secondary as of late, he would be an immediate game-changer on the defensive side of the ball, either starting or competing for a position in the rotation right off the bat. The competition between A&M and Oklahoma for Parker has been fierce and his ultimate decision will play a key storyline on National Signing Day.