This week, it becomes official: Texas A&M will beat the University of Texas in the only football contest that the two schools currently engage in–recruiting.
As Sports Illustrated national college footballl writer Stewart Mandel put it over the weekend:
For years, recruiting in the state of Texas has played out like an unfairly weighted draft. First, that school in Austin takes its pick of 20 to 25 prospects, most of whom commit nearly a year before Signing Day. Then the state’s other top programs divvy up the best of the rest.
But now, on the heels of its best football season in 56 years, Texas A&M is asserting itself as the new Lone Star recruiting juggernaut….For the first time in at least 15 years, the Aggies are poised to assemble a more highly touted haul than their two former Big 12 nemeses, Texas and Oklahoma.
It will also be the first A&M recruiting class to crank the national top ten rankings since 2005.
As Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express News and Houston Chronicle noted in December, between 2009 and 2011 A&M only signed two players that UT even offered, while this year alone they already had five at that point.
In something of a one-time quirk, Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin has an especially large class (Rivals analyst Mike Farrell told SI’s Mandel that oversigning “is the SEC way”), at the same time UT has an unusually small one. According to Rivals.com, A&M currently has 32 commits, and the Horns just 14.
The Aggies are eighth in Rivals’ rankings, but another recruiting site, Scouts.com, has them fourth, ahead even of its fellow SEC powers LSU and Alabama.
Scout has UT fifteenth, and Rivals puts them twenty-first.
At least Longhorns coach Mack Brown, having shed the “Coach February” pejorative with the 2005 BCS championship, won’t have to worry about that term coming back. In an especially tough twist at the Forty Acres, UT has apparently lost a top recruit, Arlington Heights defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, at the last minute, as Geoff Ketchum of Orangebloods tweeted:
OB has confirmed that A’Shawn Robinson has informed the Texas coaches in an in-home visit that he will sign with Alabama on Wednesday.
— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) February 2, 2013
Which all just goes to show how deep the Aggies’ SEC move runs. While the Big 12’s apparent refusal to schedule Texas A&M in any sport allows UT, Texas Tech and TCU recruiters to tell families, “come to our school and you can drive to nearly all the road games,” the Aggies’ presence in the SEC West also allows an Alabama recruiter to say to a mom in Dallas, “come to our school, and you can easily drive to Little Rock, Baton Rouge and College Station every other year.”