Tuesday, April 14, 2009

West Texas A&M - 2009 Recruiting Class

Need Help:
Offensive Line - Two LSC South second teamers are gone (Devo Dorsey and Tommy Crowley) and an third starter, Hector Rodriguez, might not be back either. J'Marcus Webb returns, and will be an All-American candidate. Brad McCarty, Jon Ioane and Daniel Sherwood combined for 12 starts in 2008. Quite a few young players after that.

Defensive Line - With Brandon Swain and TJ Nickelberry (both HM LSC South) gone, and uncertainty surrounding Eugene Sims' (2nd LSC South) return, this is another postion short on experience. Broderick Marshall will be back (1st LSC South) and will be another All-American candidate. Other returnees with some experience are Marcus Rowe, Derrick Peoples and Rashad Sanders. Bo Campbell and Aaron Wampler don't have the game experience but should start to contribute this fall.

Defensive Secondary - Darnell Johnson (1st LSC South), Cashmin Thomas, Keyon Kiles, Kyle Seals, LeAndrew Hicks and Arseel Shakoor were all seniors last year, and Braelon Davis (1st LSC South) is not listed on the spring roster. Curtis Jefferson (2nd LSC South) and Jordan Smith are expected to "step into the safety positions and be quality players in the conference" according to Coach Carthel. Tae Evans and Maurice Caldwell lead a young group of cornerbacks.

Need Depth:
Quarterback -
Maybe not more depth, but more experience. Keith Null leaves WT as #2 on the LSC career passing charts (pending ACU's appeal of NCAA sanctions). Taylor Harris is expected to be the starter and has played well in limited opportunities the past two seasons (as did Null, and Dalton Bell before him). Kyler Hill and Kevin Smith are two other returnees, but have little to no game experience.

Wide Receiver - Again, more experience is the issue here. Not only did All-American Charly Martin (95 receptions, 1,867 yds and 22 TDs in 2008) graduate, but Carl Johnson, Seth Hayden and Anthony Clark are gone as well (177 catches, 2,243 yards and 19 TDs) . A. J. Ruffins is the most experienced returning Buffalo (67 catches for 782 yards and 13 TDs in two seasons). After that, there is not much experience.

Linebacker - Another spot losing an All-American - this time its Jared Brock - and fellow starter Eldon Grimslid (2nd LSC South) as well. Starters Anthony Scott and Mark Ford are back, and Coach Carthel said "they both had great springs and give great leadership on defense." Zane Farris played a lot last year and is expected to be a starter. The final spot could be between Kevin McCluskey and redshirt freshman Taylor McCuller.

Good Quality/Depth:
Running Back - Keithon Flemming (2nd LSC South) and Kelvin Thompson return, and are backed up by Marcus Jackson, Joe Joe Jones and Davoyea Johnson.

West Texas A&M lost more talent than any other team, with the exception of Abilene Christian. Most of the departures will be filled from the current roster. There are a few transfers that will help out - Isiah Lewis on the offensive line, and Bryan Braman at linebacker to name two. But the number of transfers is much, much lower than in previous years. There may still be a few additions, (ala last summer with J'Marcus Webb and Broderick Marshall), but WT's philosophy of building around high school players is here.

And this year's high school recruiting class is HUGE. On signing day, WT announced 78 high school recruits had signed letters of intent. Broken down by position, it was 7 QBs, 5 RBs, 20 WRs, 9 OL, 6 DL, 14 LBs, 16 DBs and 1 kicker. And they weren't sacrificing quality for quantity either. Certainly a large number of the 78 will likely never see the playing field, but a good number of them will. QBs Spencer Church, Blake Forester and Luke Halpin, RBs Ketrich Harmon, Darius Miller and Chris West, WRs Torrence Allen, Dakota Dill, Joshua Graves, Derrick Osborn, Sidney Parker, Lance Ratliff, John Simpson, Regis Wilson and LaRay Woodard, OL Emory Atterberry, Micah Kemp, and Shaun Wesley. On defense, Kenneth Garrett, and Charles Rigsby on the DL, Brandon Boyd, Jacob Hanna, William Thornton, Cade Hollandsworth, and Kyle Voss at LB, while DBs Keith Baker, Kevin Butcher, Kendrick Green, Ryan Grametbaur, Paris Johnson, Zamir Linton and Chard Ward were all rated by several recruiting services. Harmon, Ratliff, Garrett, Johnson and Ward were mentioned as true freshmen who might not be red-shirted.

LSC Ranking - 1

Overall Grade: A++
Recruiting is not an exact science, so the WT staff made sure it covered all of the bases ... several times. The Buffs had more recruits rated than some schools had total recruits. It could be a challenge for the staff to get everyone enought reps to properly evaluate them, but that is an issue I'm sure they will be happy to take on.

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