SAN ANTONIO — The 247Sports database ranks recruiting classes going back to 2000. The power trio of Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M all finished in the top 10 of the 2004 cycle. So far, that’s the only time all three finished within the national top 10 in the same class.
This 2019 cycle, though, could be the second time.
The early signing period allows conclusions to be drawn earlier. Nearly 85 percent of the top 250 prospects on the 2019 Fabulous 55 signed early. Texas A&M ended the three-day window in December with the third-ranked class in the country. Oklahoma and Texas rank seventh and ninth, respectively, with five weeks to go until national signing day in February.
The 2018 class was the first time two of those programs finished with top-10 classes this decade when Oklahoma joined the Longhorns in the top 10. The numbers suggest when one program dominates, the others struggle. When Texas signed the second overall class in the nation in 2012, Oklahoma and A&M both finished outside the top 11.
Surprisingly, Oklahoma has only signed one top-5 class since 2010. It was the most consistent program over that time, however. The Sooners’ lowest-ranked class since 2001 was 18th. Texas finished with the No. 25 class in 2017.
Texas A&M signed multiple classes outside the top 20 earlier in the decade, but the tide turned in the SEC. The Aggies’ average class since 2000 ranks at 17.95. Since joining the SEC in 2012, A&M has signed a top-20 class in each cycle for an average ranking of 9.71.
Texas is a state ripe with talent.
It’s not ripe enough to supply all three power programs with elite prospects, especially with teams like LSU, Ohio State and others poaching a few targets nearly every cycle. Texas can’t win the state with ease each year like it did in 2018 when Tom Herman signed the five top-ranked players on the Fabulous 55.
Oklahoma entered the 2019 class with three consecutive Big 12 championships and fresh off a trip to the College Football Playoffs. Texas A&M was due for a great class considering it was Jimbo Fisher’s first full cycle as the head coach. Herman rode that first-year bump in 2018. Texas was 7-6 after a win in the Texas Bowl.
Momentum wasn’t with the Longhorns.
That’s when Herman put a plan into motion. Texas was left with two choices: Settle or explore. Herman went on an exploration for elite talent around the country. The results allowed UT to keep up on the recruiting trail on a year it wasn’t supposed to finish with a top class, at least historically. The Longhorns signed the No. 17-ranked class the last two times that A&M finished with a top 10 class.
“We want the best players. We’ll all be Longhorns fighting for the same goal,” said four-star Texas signee Jordan Whittington. “All that stuff goes away in college.”
The audible was clear. Texas A&M and Oklahoma were locking up the premier talent inside the state. Texas took to the air to sign 11 out-of-state commitments out of the 22 that inked national letters of intent in December.
De’Gabriel Floyd is a nationally-ranked inside linebacker with All-American honors. Jake Smith was the Gatorade national player of the year. Jacoby Jones was a one-time Oklahoma commit who should provide immediate depth at defensive end after spending time at a JUCO. The list continues.
“Chris (Adimora) and I always talked about this. If Texas has so much talent and Texas is still wanting us, they must think we’re pretty good,” Floyd said. “Our goal is to go win a national championship. That doesn’t matter any less to us guys from out of state.”
This isn’t the new blueprint for Texas. The Longhorns will always recruit Texas first. The borders shouldn’t limit Herman in the same way the state of Alabama doesn’t limit Nick Saban. Football is different. Recruiting is different. Herman understood that in 2019.
Where Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M classes have ranked nationally since 2002:
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