Taking Stock of First Day of Early Signing Period under Texas A&M Football's New Head Man
As ever, early signing day for Texas A&M football was quite the whirlwind. It does feel like in this NIL era that things are significantly wilder than they used to be, but the Aggies avoided that kind of intrigue, for the most part, on the day.
A&M opened the day with a signature rolling in from the newest add to the class in DT Kendall Jackson out of Gainesville. This one can be credited to Elko's choice of defensive line coach Sean Spencer, as Jackson had been committed to Spencer during his time at Florida.
After Jackson, the Aggies saw a quick stretch where they received NLIs from TE Eric Karner, S Jordan Pride, and OL Ashton Funk. S Myles Davis was next, followed by QB Miles O'Neill before LB Jordan Lockhart rounded out the group of signatures that came in before noon CT.
Up until now, everything had gone pretty much according to plan. But the white-knuckling would begin from this point on.
It started mildly, as two of the quieter commitments in the class—Isendre Ahfua and Blake Ivy, who both happen to be offensive linemen—were players about whom there had been a slight amount of worry among the fans, if for no other reason than the fact that they are generally quiet, and in the absence of information an anxious mind inventeth many woes. Both players ended up signing not long after lunchtime, however, rounding out the offensive line group and quelling the concerns of fans.
With nine signatures now in the boat, there remained now only one more player, Ernest Campbell, expected to sign with the Aggies on Wednesday, as Terry Bussey and Dominick McKinley are biding their time until the February signing period, and Tristan Jernigan is waiting until Friday to officially ink with the Aggies. Dealyn Evans's intentions were a bit murkier, however; he indicated last week to a national outlet that he would also be waiting until February to sign.
Close followers of Aggie recruiting, however, had their eyes on a couple of announcements down in the sunshine state. Texas A&M football had quietly hosted a trio of prospects from Tampa this past weekend, and there was a chance that Florida WR commit Izaiah Williams and uncommitted EDGE prospect Solomon Williams may end up signing with the Maroon and White.
This would be quite the test of closing skills for Mike Elko, however. Nick Saban and Alabama had mounted a rabid campaign to bring Solomon Williams into the fold for their class; a legitimate monster off the edge with the numbers and measurables to back up his ranking, it's not hard to see why they were making such a big push. It's quite the "welcome to the SEC" moment for a new head coach to find yourself trying to fend off a furious rally attempt by none other than Nick Saban for a player less than a month into the job. Could Elko handle it?
The fireworks weren't done there, however. Earlier in the day, Steve Wiltfong reported that there had been some Longhorn momentum with longtime Texas A&M football commit Dealyn Evans; a report that was extremely cautiously corroborated by Texags reporter Ryan Brauninger. Burnt orange fans on Twitter began to buzz that Evans was going to sign with the Longhorns around 5 PM, but that time came and went with the only announcement from Evans being that he would wait until the February period to sign.
It should be mentioned that the Aggies technically had a flip go in the wrong direction today, but that was only a matter of formality—those who cover recruiting for Texas A&M football, Brauninger chief among them, had sniffed out last week that Tyanthony Smith would be signing with Texas. He accordingly was not included on the running signing day tracker today, and most Aggie fans hadn't been counting him as a commit for some time.
After Elko secures Jernigan's signature on Friday, his attention will turn solely to locking in Bussey, McKinley, and Evans for the late period. It's hard to know what exactly the chances are with each of the three, but the fact that all are still committed to the Aggies is at least something. Finishing up the staff will likely aid in no small measure here, namely hiring a defensive coordinator given that all three are defensive players.
In all, this was a signing day that didn't disappoint. Mike Elko secured the class and showed his chops when it comes to closing on a couple of big time contested recruitments. The future is bright in Aggieland.