Nothing breeds excitement in the college football ranks like a winning program. But when a team that has never experienced a run at the College Football Playoff gets close to grasping the proverbial brass ring, the hope to a return of excellence is a pervasive groundswell movement. The Texas A&M Aggies turned in their best SEC season ever in 2020 bypassing the 2012 team posting an 8-1 SEC, 9-1 overall, record. With three straight top-10 recruiting classes, Texas A&M is reloading in hopes of winning the win SEC West and playing for a conference championship.
Going with the wins on the board for head coach Jimbo Fisher have been the victories on the recruiting trail. The 2019 grouping was ranked fourth overall, followed by a sixth-ranked haul, and the class wrapped in February checked in at No. 7. With seniors and underclassmen matriculating to the NFL, the roster opens up for top players to make their collegiate mark in 2021.
Demond Demas, WR
Entering the 2020 season, fans were excited to see what former five-star Demas would do during his true freshman season. Injuries and a deep roster at receiver prevented Demas from posting stats, but he did earn his first piece of playing time against Alabama. With a new gunslinger in the pocket, the winner of the quarterback job will need all the top skill players possible hauling in passes against SEC secondaries.
Shemar Turner, DT
For any college program, utter the word five-star and you have said fan's attention. When Turner gets on campus this summer, all eyes will be on five-star defensive tackle out of DeSoto to see if he is ready to contribute Day 1 of the season. Listed at 6-3, 280, Turner was rated as the third-best defensive tackle in the 2021 class, ranked No. 21 overall. He closed out his high school career with 76 tackles, 24 TFLs, and 12.5 sacks and showed he can control the line of scrimmage and rush the passer from the interior, attributes that will get a freshman on the field early if the skills translate.
LJ Johnson, RB
After finishing third in the SEC in rushing yards (1,036), Isaiah Spiller's spot on the A&M roster is carved in stone, but preparing his replacement is one of the many tasks to take place this year — enter Johnson. Using his 4.42 laser-timed speed in the 40, Johnson was rated as a top-5 running back in the 2021 class. His junior season was his best, rushing for 1,951 yards with 37 touchdowns, but his senior season was still above the grain with 1,262 yards and 20 scores posted off 177 carries. The four-star talent was able to showcase more of his all-purpose skills as a senior securing 14 passes for 255 yards with three romps into the end zone. Johnson has all the required skills Fisher asks for in his tailbacks.
Shadrach Banks, WR
One of the most interesting players A&M signed in the 2021 class, given Fisher's creativity on offense, was Banks. Banks is a receiver, but at 6-1, 215, is also built like a running back. Given his size, speed, and incredible athleticism, could Banks be Ainias Smith 2.0 in the making? The four-star out of North Shore High School took home first-team MaxPreps All-American and District 21-6A Offensive MVP honors during his senior campaign.
Haynes King and Eli Stowers, QB
Of all the positions on the Aggies' roster, the one that will be scrutinized the most through spring ball until the 2021 season wraps will be quarterback. With Kellen Mond gone, there will be a battle in College Station between two former four-stars Haynes King (2020) and Eli Stowers (2021) for the starting job. King has a one-year head start on Stowers understanding the offense and playbook but has not logged significant time on the field to lay claim to a starting spot. King completing 2 of 4 passes for 59 yards with one touchdown and one interception in two games last season. Stowers early enrolled, adding some Texas heat to spring ball.
— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience and is a member of the FWAA. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and has his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanWrightRNG.