Aggies stepping up Louisiana recruiting

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- When Texas A&M travels Saturday to Shreveport, La., to take on Louisiana Tech, it will be a homecoming for Aggies linebacker Jonathan Stewart, a Shreveport native.

For eight other players on the Aggies' roster it will be a return to their home state. All nine Aggies that hail from Louisiana have seen the field this season, and four of them -- Stewart, cornerback Deshazor Everett, center Patrick Lewis and defensive end Julien Obioha -- are starters.

There's definitely a Louisiana presence on the team. Lewis dubs the group "Louisianimals."

That presence will continue and could grow in the years to come. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin already has established a presence in the state with the 2013 recruiting class. Of the 28 commitments the Aggies have, four are prospects from Louisiana -- linebacker Darian Claiborne (Port Allen), cornerback Noel Ellis (New Orleans Edna Karr), linebacker Shaan Washington (Alexandria) and linebacker Edward Williams (New Orleans Warren Easton).

They've also offered five Louisiana natives from the 2014 class: Edna Karr teammates Speedy Noil and Gerald Willis III, New Orleans Saint Augustine running back Leonard Fournette, Lake Charles Barbe receiver Trey Quinn and Westlake tight end Jacory Washington.

Texas A&M's membership in the Southeastern Conference has helped its efforts, which will continue in that state.

"Texas is our primary state but our proximity to Louisiana ... we've got a number of players on our roster right now from Louisiana," Sumlin said. "Because of being in the SEC, I think we've been able to branch out and maybe turn some heads that maybe we weren't able to turn before in the state of Louisiana, knowing that we're close and knowing that we are in the SEC and we're playing in the best league in the country."

Sumlin has spoken about having a national recruiting presence and expanding the Aggies' footprint while keeping Texas as its home base. That will continue, and Louisiana will play a role in those efforts.

"The combination of those two things [location and SEC membership] have allowed us to move our recruiting footprint east in a strong way and obviously Louisiana, being as close as we are to them, they become really our second home for recruiting."