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Texas A&M achieves No. 1 football recruiting class to kick off early signing day

Chuck Carlton
The Dallas Morning News
As of Wednesday, Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher had the nation's No. 1 recruiting class for the 2022 cycle. The Aggies won recruiting battles Wednesday for four top 100 recruits.

Texas A&M had plenty of obstacles to a No. 1 class ranking Wednesday — at least for now — in the recruiting rankings.

The Aggies had to navigate persistent rumors about coach Jimbo Fisher leaving for LSU, the actual loss of defensive coordinator Mike Elko to Duke, an underwhelming 8-4 regular season and the whole supercharged landscape that has come with name, image and likeness and the transfer portal.

By the end of the first day of the early national signing period, A&M had supplanted SEC rivals and recruiting superpowers Alabama and Georgia at the top of the 247Sports composite rankings.

Yes, plenty of decisions remain between now and the final signing period in February. But if A&M holds on, it would be the first program other than Alabama or Georgia to top the rankings since 2010.

Fisher said the response in his fifth recruiting class shows that people understand the progress at A&M.

Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher on beating Alabama: 'That's what we're here for, isn't it?'

“They see where we’re going, what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it.,” Fisher said. “We got to finish up, and be able to finish some games, and win on the road when we need to, and do those kind of things. I think you get guys that can make a difference and hopefully make those other plays and what you need.

“But I think they see the vision which we have. I think they see the commitment which we have. And I think they see the staff that can get them there and the things that go on.”

A&M wasn’t the only state program highly ranked as the signing period began.

Texas moved up one spot to fifth in the 247Sports composite. The Longhorns flipped four recruits on Wednesday including Little Elm cornerback Terrance Brooks from Ohio State and Austin Westlake edge rusher Ethan Burke from Michigan.

The ranking was good for the top class in the Big 12, ahead of No. 10 Oklahoma and new coach Brent Venables. The Texas performance came after a 5-7 debut season for Sarkisian with plenty of off-the-field distractions. Yes, the weekend commitment of elite transfer quarterback Quinn Ewers from Ohio State was significant. So was the recent addition of four offensive linemen, all announced after Texas donors debuted a NIL deal guaranteeing scholarship offensive linemen $50,000 each.

No wonder Sarkisian seemed a little giddy at the debut press conference.

“Clearly, we addressed some pressing needs that we felt were on our roster,” Sarkisian said, mentioning quarterback, the secondary and the offensive and defensive lines.

Read more:In landing Quinn Ewers, Texas’ Steve Sarkisian shores up need, regains recruiting mojo

“All in all, the day’s gone well. I like the mix of guys we have. You gotta have big humans up front, and you have to play big up front and I think we did that.”

After a Big 12 championship, Baylor sits 33rd in the rankings, buoyed by the signing day commitment of four-star Lewisville receiver Armani Winfield.

New Texas Tech football coach Joey McGuire signed 18 players Wednesday in his transition class to rank 40th.

New Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire signed 18 players in his transition class to rank 40th. New TCU coach Sonny Dykes, who successfully mined the transfer portal at SMU, took a different approach with just 10 recruits.

“If you think about the sprint that happened from the day I got the job until now, what an incredible, incredible experience,” McGuire told reporters in Lubbock. “I think we signed a great class. I’m really excited about the guys.”

Nationally, former Cowboy Deion Sanders got a historic recruiting victory, flipping No. 1 recruit Travis Hunter from Florida State to SWAC member Jackson State.

Still, it was a huge day for A&M, which won recruiting battles Wednesday for four top 100 recruits — Philadelphia edge rusher Enai White, Chaparral (Ariz) defensive lineman Anthony Lucas, Oconee County (Ga.) tight end Jake Johnson and Atascocita offensive lineman Kam Dewberry.

Johnson could be joined soon by older brother Max, a transfer quarterback from LSU. Fisher said he is in the market to add at least one more quarterback to Haynes King and incoming five-star recruit Connor Weigman.

Fisher raved about Weigman’s intelligence, athletic ability and intangibles.

“That’s my guy,” Fisher said. “I think he’s the best guy out there. Period.”

Tennessee defensive lineman Walter Nolen leads a bumper crop of nine linemen (five offensive, four defensive), a key commodity in the SEC.

Read more:How Texas' Steve Sarkisian held it together after a 5-7 season to craft a top-five class

“That’s been since I have been in ball 35 years ago,” Fisher said. “The guys that put their hand in the dirt change the game. You can’t have enough of them.”

A&M was still waiting on a national letter of intent from five-star receiver Evan Stewart of Frisco Liberty, viewed as a solid commit to the Aggies.

NIL is a new aspect, although Fisher disputed that notion, both in his press conference and on the “Paul Finebaum Show.”

“I joke about this, NIL has been going on for a long time,” Fisher said. “It hasn’t been above board. So now it is. I think it does affect things. Because the other people, they don’t have the advantages they used to have.”

Fisher mentioned several times the progress that A&M has made while acknowledging that it wasn’t complete just yet. The Aggies still haven’t won an SEC West Title, although they finished 9-1 last season with an Orange Bowl victory.

Late in his press conference, Fisher was asked if he had a program-changing class.

Fisher flashed back to his West Virginia roots for a proper analogy.

“We got some good players. We’ll find out how they play,” Fisher said. “At the end of the day, they’re on paper. We got to go play and do what we got to do. I will reserve that comment.

“I always say it’s like young hunting dogs. They’re all great now. They’ve got a great pedigree now. Can they hunt? We gotta go find out.”