Texas A&M will rely on its 2017 receiver class immediately
A few years ago, Texas A&M likely had the nation’s most talented offense. The Aggies included two 5-star quarterbacks and three 5-star wide receivers. Even Alabama struggles to get that much top-end skill talent.
As every Aggies fan knows, quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen ditched the program in a matter of weeks in 2015. And with Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil declaring early for the 2017 NFL Draft, that incredible receiver depth is vanishing.
Seals-Jones and Noil were unexpected, but not necessarily surprising departures. Both struggled to live up to their recruiting rankings. Now combined with numerous other moves, the Aggies offense is in big trouble. Josh Reynolds will graduate after finishing third on the Texas A&M receiving list. Jeremy Tabuyo and Edward Pope are also graduating.
Wide receiver Christian Kirk had a monster freshman season and will return. Other than that, the Aggies’ next-best receivers are running backs Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford, who combined for 172 yards. The next-leading receiver? Jamal Jeffery, with 74 yards.
How Texas A&M numbers fall short
Especially considering the uncertainty at quarterback, Kevin Sumlin and Noel Mazzone’s offense could be facing a disaster. Trevor Knight departs, and now Kevin Sumlin must decide between senior-to-be Jake Hubenak and redshirt freshman Nick Starkel — unless an incoming freshman surprises everyone.
The Aggies struggled the past two seasons in passing efficiency, ranking No. 42 and 80 in S&P+ passing. Things could get even worse.
To avoid collapsing, the Aggies need an immediate impact from their 2017 recruiting class.
This year’s class could be among Sumlin’s best while at Texas A&M. According to 247’s composite ratings, this class at No. 9 in the nation is behind only Sumlin’s No. 5 class in 2014. That group included Allen and 5-star defensive end Myles Garrett, who also is a 2017 draft early entree.
More importantly, skill position talent tops this year’s prospects.
Wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon is the the Aggies’ top recruit. Ausbon is a 4-star prospect from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and No. 75 in the nation. Hezekiah Jones of Stafford, Texas, isn’t far behind. Like Ausbon a 4-star prospect and hard commit, Jones is No. 167 in 247’s composite rankings.
The class also includes wide receives Roshauud Paul of Bremond, who was named Mr. Texas Football; and Camron Buckley of Cedar Hill, Texas. Paul is a 4-star prospect, with Hill a 3-star.
These players can contribute right away. Ausbon is an elite athlete at 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds who entered the national scene after transferring to IMG. Now, 247 rates him as the school’s second-best player on offense, behind only Michigan-bound center Cesar Ruiz. Future Texas A&M teammate Kellen Mond, a dual-threat quarterback, is a few spots back at No. 86.
Texas A&M class receiver depth
Jones is in the same caliber. Earlier in the recruiting process, Jones was rated ahead of Ausbon while both were committed to Baylor. Extra exposure at IMG was enough to push Ausbon ahead.
Buckley played in the highest level of Texas high school football. Cedar Hill is a power with several potential college stars. Buckley’s numbers don’t indicate how he impacted games, considering he competed with Oklahoma commit Charleston Rambo for touches.
Paul played against a lower level of competition, but he was one of the greatest players in Texas high school history. In three years as a quarterback, Paul threw for 2,103 yards and 23 touchdowns, ran for 2,661 yards and 50 touchdowns. His 47-0 record and three state titles as a starter surpassed Kyler Murray.
Texas A&M has the makings of an elite wide receiver class, but pressure will be stiff. Its 2017 season depends on whether at least two of these freshmen become big-time players right away.
If not, it won’t matter who starts at quarterback: The offense will be in deep trouble.