Now that Texas A&M's regular season is complete, coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff have turned their full attention to recruiting, closing out the 2013 class and building on their 2014 haul, which already has begun with three commitments in the books.
With 31 commitments for the Class of 2013, the Aggies currently lead the nation in total commitments. And they're not finished yet, still in the hunt for some of their top remaining targets. Among the players the Aggies are still pursuing:
• ATH Ricky Seals-Jones, Sealy (Texas) High School: The No. 13 player in the ESPN 150 and the nation's No. 1 athlete is down to LSU and Texas A&M. He recently took an unofficial visit to Texas A&M for the Missouri game and was visited by LSU special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey. Seals-Jones said he plans to take official visits to both schools but is mum on a decision timeline or even if a decision could come before or after said officials.
• DT Justin Manning, Dallas Kimball: The No. 88 player in the ESPN 150 said he will announce his decision Dec. 7 and will choose from a final three of Oklahoma, TCU and Texas A&M.
• OLB Mike Mitchell, Plano (Texas) Prestonwood: The ESPN 150 linebacker has a final four of Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas A&M. He visited Texas A&M unofficially for the LSU game on Oct. 20.
• MLB Isaac Savaiinaea, Honolulu Punahou: The ESPN 150 linebacker is a former Stanford commit and is down to a final two of UCLA and Texas A&M. He said he could decide as late as national signing day.
• WR Ja'Quay Williams, Fork Union (Ga.) Military Academy: Williams recently decommitted from Auburn and is considering Texas A&M, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi State and Oklahoma State currently. He visited Aggieland for the Sam Houston State game.
• CB Mackensie Alexander, Immokalee (Fla.) High School: The five-star prospect and No. 5 player in the ESPN 150 took an official visit to Texas A&M for the LSU game. He also appears to have interest in Georgia and has visited Clemson and Nebraska this year as well.
There are also several junior college targets still on the Aggies' radar, including East Misssissippi Community College defensive end Za'Darius Smith, Arizona Western College linebacker Jeff Lark and Butler Community College linebacker Tommy Sanders, all of whom have taken official visits to Aggieland in recent weeks.
With the Aggies having a chance to land some of their remaining targets, some wonder how the Aggies' haul can be so large. Didn't the Southeastern Conference adopt a rule preventing schools from signing such a large number of recruits, or, what often was called "oversigning?"
The SEC did adopt a rule in that spirit. The SEC constitution and bylaws state that a limit of 25 prospective football student-athletes can be signed between Dec. 1 and May 31 each year. That rule was adopted, revised and went into effect in its current state on Aug. 1, 2011.
In article 18.104.22.168 of the bylaws there is an exception to the signing limit, stating that a recruit who signs and is included in the school's counter limits for the current academic year, that recruit is not subject to the 25-member signing limit. Basically, it means the school can count that recruit to the previous class rather than the upcoming class, because he enrolled in school for the current academic year.
So in the 2013 recruiting class, any recruit that is a mid-year enrollee who begins taking classes in January (which is the 2012-13 academic year), can count toward the 2012 recruiting class.
Now the 25-member limit still exists for each year, so while a school can count recruits back to 2012, the number of players that signed letters of intent in February of 2012 and the number of mid-year enrollees that are "December graduates" who join for the spring 2013 semester still must equal no more than 25.
Texas A&M signed 19 players to letters of intent in February 2012 but had four early enrollees in the class, three of which can be counted back to 2011, when the Aggies signed 22 players.
So taking that into consideration, that leaves spots for up to nine mid-term enrollees in the current recruiting class, meaning the Aggies conceivably could take 34 signees.
As for whether the Aggies will have the scholarship room for all the signees, it appears they will.
Sumlin doesn't disclose how many scholarships he has available in a given year, a policy he had going back to his days as the head coach at Houston. But taking a quick glance at the current roster and the Aggies' last four signing classes shows that an estimated 72 scholarship players remain from the 92 signed in that span, with attrition from the original signing classes coming in various forms known well to avid college football fans across the country: some non-qualifiers that never made it to campus, some medical exemptions, graduates and some that simply left the team for one reason or another.
Add in two transfers that the Aggies took in over the offseason and you have 74 players remaining.
Texas A&M has 17 scholarship seniors who will be out of eligibility after this season, meaning 57 scholarship players would remain. There's also the potential that a trio of juniors -- offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews and defensive end Damontre Moore -- could declare for early entry in the NFL draft. None of those three have stated that they've decided on their future one way or the other, but if all three were to happen to leave, that would leave the Aggies with 54 scholarship players -- 31 under the 85-scholarship limit.
The Aggies parted ways with one 2013 commit, Rob Zimmerman, on Wednesday. There's always the possibility of non-qualifiers and decommitments for any college program's recruiting class as national signing day approaches. That also doesn't take into account any team attrition that may come, should there be any other medical exemptions, transfers, players who stop playing or leave the team or if a scholarship isn't renewed.
Also, there isn't anything in the SEC bylaws preventing a team from signing recruits that take the program over the 85-scholarship limit (the Big Ten, for instance, won't allow schools to sign more than three over the limit). But the Aggies would have to still get down to 85 at the annual August deadline if they were to happen to go over for any reason.