Texas A&M’s 2017 recruiting class didn’t boast the top-level talent many expect from Kevin Sumlin recruiting classes. However, nine early enrollees will give the Aggies a chance to get a sizable portion of their new talent base up to speed through spring practices.
The Aggies boast a pair of top 100 players, and nine total who were rated 4-stars. Two of those have experience playing next to elite talent thanks to stints at IMG Academy. That will only help the learning curve. With several top players leaving for the NFL draft, the Aggies need contributions soon.
Here are five 2017 signees who will contribute right away in 2017.
Position: Inside linebacker
Hines was the highest-rated player in the class, coming in at No. 63 nationally. He also fills one of the Aggies’ greatest needs next season. Shaan Washington manned the WILL position in 2016, but he is headed to the NFL Draft. Hines might be ready to step in right away and start.
In four years at Plano East and the Episcopal School of Dallas (both in Texas), Hines accumulated a mind-boggling 640 tackles and 96 tackles for loss. Three of those years came against 6A competition, the highest level in Texas. Hines is battle-tested. Enrolling early should help ensure his body is ready to compete at an SEC level soon.
It’s unclear at this point whether Sumlin will give Mond the starting job, but it’s hard to see him redshirting. The Aggies will have only four quarterbacks on the roster next season – Mond, Jake Hubenak, Connor Blumrick and Nick Starkel. All but Hubenak will be freshmen in 2017 (Starkel as a redshirt freshman).
With all the inexperience, Mond will find a way on the field, even as a backup. Rated the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the class, Mond was under center at IMG Academy last year, so he has experience playing against top competition. That should give him a leg up in this competition, even if Hubenak retains the starting job.
Jhamon Ausbon/Hezekiah Jones
Position: Wide receiver
Thanks to graduation and early entry to the NFL Draft, Texas A&M has a dearth of talent at wide receiver. In fact, Christian Kirk is the only one of the Aggies’ top six wide receivers from last season that will be back on the roster. That leaves a wide opening for young players to step in.
Ausbon and Jones both enrolled early, which will give them time to earn a spot in the starting lineup. The former played with Mond at IMG Academy last season, which should make the transition quicker. Either way, expect to see both players on the field early.
Position: Tight end
This is my one wild-card pick — everyone else is a top player in the class. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 261 pounds as a high schooler, Horry has the developed body to play this season. Credit good genes — he’s the son of Robert “Big Shot Bob” Horry, who won seven NBA championships.
Texas A&M rarely uses a tight end correctly, but offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone seems to be putting a premium on the position. The Aggies recruited Horry and Keynel McZeal to play tight end — Horry as more of a blocker, and McZeal as a receiving option. Especially with questions at receiver, Horry will have a chance to get on the field early.
All rankings come from the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.