Aggies nab top receiver Seals-Jones

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin was happy to see his signing

class ranked eighth by a national recruiting website.

His enthusiasm was dampened when he realized the Aggies were

considered only fifth-best in the Southeastern Conference.

”We’re still playing catch-up in the SEC,” he said. ”We’re

getting there but we’ve still got a ways to go … we’re going to

need a couple more of these classes to really get to where we need

to be.”

The Aggies signed 23 players on Wednesday, adding them to the

nine players who enrolled in the spring.

Texas A&M added some new targets for Heisman Trophy-winning

quarterback Johnny Manziel after losing several receivers to

graduation. The group is led by Ricky Seals-Jones of Sealy, Texas,

the nation’s second-rated receiver by Rivals.com.

A converted quarterback, Seals-Jones was injured for most of

this season. He ran for 1,245 yards and 15 scores and threw for 761

yards and eight more touchdowns in 2011. The versatile player also

starred on defense as a junior, and had five interceptions and 68

tackles.

The Aggies also signed five other receivers to plug into

Sumlin’s high-powered offense.

”I think our style of play helped attract a lot of guys, and

also our history of offensive football, not just last year playing

in the SEC,” Sumlin said. ”People had doubts about if it was

going to work. I think now people have a better understanding of

our offensive philosophy … and that certainly helped.”

Texas A&M went 11-2 in their first season in the SEC after

moving from the Big 12, its first 11-win season since 1998. Manziel

led the Aggies to a win at top-ranked Alabama, and became the first

freshman to win the Heisman and A&M’s first winner since

1957.

Sumlin knows that success helped improve his recruiting haul

this season.

”It’s a combination of a lot of things,” he said. ”Everything

matters. Moving to the SEC is part of it, but not just being in the

SEC but being able to compete and win some meaningful games in the

SEC. Our brand is expanded particularly with our exposure in the

SEC. Because of that people were able to see our style of football

and we were able to sell our university instead of coming in

cold.”

The Aggies also shored up their defensive front by adding six

linemen or ends on Wednesday. Dallas Kimball tackle Justin Manning

leads the group after piling up 76 tackles, 11 sacks and 18 tackles

for losses this season. Texas A&M also added Carthage, Texas,

tackle Isaiah Golden, who had 76 tackles, 32 tackles for losses and

forced four fumbles as a senior. They’ll be joined by 6-foot-6

defensive end Daeshon Hall of Lancaster, Texas, who had 83 tackles

and 23 sacks in 2012.

”That was a real emphasis this year,” Sumlin said of adding

depth on the defensive line. ”One year into the SEC, it is very

obvious to me that this is a line of scrimmage league. For us to be

a program that we want to be we need to increase our size and

increase the profile of our team height-wise and with depth.”

The Aggies also picked up a couple of solid quarterbacks in

Kenny Hill and Kohl Stewart, despite Manziel having three years of

eligibility remaining. Hill earned Associated Press player of the

year honors after throwing for 2,291 yards and 20 touchdowns and

running for 905 yards and 22 scores for Southlake Carroll,

Texas.

Hill’s father is former major league pitcher Ken Hill, who spent

14 years playing for several teams including the St. Louis

Cardinals and Texas Rangers.

Stewart threw for 2,535 yards with 28 touchdowns and 12

interceptions for Houston St. Pius last season. That performance

came after he threw for more than 3,100 yards in both his sophomore

and junior seasons.

The two are also baseball standouts, but Stewart, who is a

pitcher could be a high draft pick.

Sumlin has spoken with Stewart about his options, and told him

he’d be fine with him playing baseball and joining the Aggies later

like Brandon Weeden did at Oklahoma State.

”Our conversations have been that would love to have him here,

but there’s nothing wrong with being Brandon Weeden,” Sumlin said.

”If he wants to go play, we’ll still have a place for him when

he’s 25.”