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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Texas A&M Recruiting: Was Aggies' 2010 OL Class the Best Ever?

The Texas A&M football coaches signed six offensive linemen in their 2010 recruiting class. Those six linemen would develop into the greatest offensive line class ever recruited. 

Recruiting is an inexact science. College coaches know that if they can hit on half of the recruits that they sign in any one class, that class will be considered a success. 

All six of the linemen who signed with the Aggies in 2010 ended up starting games for the Aggies. Four of the six linemen will end up playing in the NFL. 

Not a single member of the Aggies' 2010 recruiting class was ranked as a 5-star recruits by 247Sports. Four of the linemen were 4-star recruits, one was a 3-star and one was a two-star recruit.

That grouped produced three All-American offensive tackles, including Jake Matthews who was a two-time All-American. If you bring in an offensive line class that produces one All-American that is a successful class. The Aggies had three in the same class. 


The Architect 

The head coach of the Aggie football team in 2010 was Mike Sherman. It comes as no surprise that Sherman could bring in a class of this quality considering his background. 

Sherman was the Texas A&M offensive line coach for seven years before moving onto the NFL to coach tight ends for the Green Bay Packers. He later ascended to head coach and general manager at Green Bay. It is safe to say that Sherman is a good judge of offensive line talent. 

He signed Cedric Ogbuehi, Jake Matthews, Luke Joeckel, Shep Klinke and Garrett Gramling on national signing day in 2010. Jarvis Harrison was a late addition to the class. He was considered a grade risk when coming out of Navasota High School in central Texas and was lightly recruited. 

When Harrison got the grades and test score required for admission, Sherman offered him a scholarship which he promptly accepted. He would end up starting four years on the offensive line for the Aggies. 


The Class

Joeckel and Matthews were the stars of the class on signing day. They were both four-star recruits who were expected to be the Aggies' future at the offensive tackle position. 

Matthews is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews. The younger Matthews and Joeckel finished the 2010 season as the starting offensive tackles for the Aggies. Joeckel started at left tackle in the first game of his college career against Stephen F. Austin. 

Joeckel would go on to start every game for the next three years at left tackle. He was an All-American in 2012 and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

Matthews became the starter at right tackle in the seventh game of the season in 2010. He would be in the starting lineup in every game for the Aggies until he graduated in 2013. Matthews earned All-American honors as a right tackle in 2012 and as a left tackle in 2013.

Like Joeckel, he was a top-10 pick in the NFL draft. Matthews left A&M as one of the most decorated linemen in the history of the school.  

Like Matthews and Joeckel, Shep Klinke was a 4-star recruits. The 6'7", 290-pound athlete was a backup guard as a true freshman and became a starter in 2011. Injuries cut his career short. 

Cedric Ogbuehi, Garrett Gramling and Jarvis Harrison all redshirted in 2010. Gramling would be a career backup until 2013 when he would start two games at left guard. He started the first five games of the 2014 season before giving way to Harrison at left guard.

Harrison started every game between 2011 and 2013. He was talented enough to spend two games at left tackle in 2013 when injuries forced the coaches to shuffle the offensive line.  

Harrison was out of shape at the beginning of the 2014 season so he slipped behind Gramling on the depth chart. He started the last eight games of the 2014 season, including two spent at left tackle. 

Harrison is projected to be selected between the third and fifth rounds of the 2015 draft. He has the athletic ability and strength to be a 10-year starter at guard in the NFL. 

Ogbuehi started at guard in 2011 and 2012. He started at right tackle in 2013 and left tackle in 2014. Like Joeckel and Matthews before him, Ogbuehi earned All-American honors as the Aggies left tackle in 2014. 

He tore his ACL during the Aggies' Liberty Bowl victory over West Virginia. Before the injury, Ogbuehi was projected to be the third member of the 2010 offensive line class to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Now he is expected to be selected in the second round of the draft. 


Rarest Of The Rare

If a college program signs six offensive linemen in once class and three of them end up as starters, that is an outstanding recruiting class. To have all six members of the class start games is unheard of. 

The Aggies have four members of the class who were starters for three consecutive seasons or more. Matthews and Joeckel played in every game of their NFL career. 

Three of the six signees earned All-American honors while playing for the Aggies. Four of them will hear their names called during the NFL draft. 

There may be a recruiting class of linemen that produced more wins during a career, but none of them have produced as many individual accolades nor as many high draft picks. 

This class was assembled by a former NFL general manager, in a year when there were three high level left tackle recruits available in the same state at the same time. All three decided to go to the same school. 

The odds of that rare combination happening again are astronomical. The Texas A&M football coaches and fans hit the offensive line lotto for the past five seasons. They have had the privilege of watching the greatest offensive line class ever play for the Aggies.  



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