2013 SEC Wishlist

As Texas A&M takes another step toward joining the SEC, let’s look at what that means on the field. There’s no denying that the SEC plays a different style of football than the Big 12, especially in A&M’s future home of the SEC West.

Justin Manning top's Gigem247's 2013 SEC wish list.

Perhaps the biggest difference is the size of the defenses. Big 12 defenses are built for speed. They’re designed to slow down the aerial assault of the spread offenses.

SEC defenses are fast, but they key on stopping the run. Safeties have to play downhill and be able to make big hits near the line of scrimmage. LSU’s starting safeties are both at least 6 feet tall and close to 200 pounds. Meanwhile Alabama posts a pair of safeties standing 6-2 and at least 210. A&M is off to a good start at that position with freshman Howard Matthews (6-2, 206) and already has Corey Thompson (6-2, 202) in the fold for the class of 2012.

While A&M’s class of 2012 is already almost complete, we can look across the recruiting landscape at the class of 2013 to who the Aggies should be targeting for their move into the SEC.

The Aggies already have four commitments in the fold who all are more than capable of playing in the Southeastern Conference. With 16-18 spots open for 2013, that leaves A&M with limited spots for next year’s recruiting cycle.

If A&M wants to compete in the SEC, they need SEC players. Here’s a list of players that fit that mold and who the Aggies would ideally like to enter the nation’s toughest conference with in 2013.

#1- Justin Manning- The Dallas Kimball prospect tops the list not because he’s the best overall prospect in the state of Texas for the class of 2013, but because he’s the best defensive tackle in the state for his age. It’s arguably the toughest position to recruit and the Aggie’s biggest need. The 6-foot-2, 275-pound quick lineman is your prototypical 3-4 nose guard who can compete in the SEC. While there will be better looking tackles on the hoof in Manning’s class, there will not be many better on the football field.

#2- Keith Ford- The Southeastern Conference is known for pounding the rock and big bruising backs. The Ags top ‘13 RB prospect is a 4.4 runner who also excels in the passing game showing his ability to run crisp routes and track the ball in the air. The 5-11, 203 pound Cy-Ranch ball-carrier fits the SEC mold and with Christine Michael entering his senior year in 2012 and Trey Williams not being an every-down back, Ford could provide the depth and durability necessary to compete in the nation’s toughest conference.

#3- Kent Perkins- The Lake Highlands lineman is your prototypical SEC offensive tackle that A&M could also play 3-4 end, which is a tough position for A&M to recruit. At 6-5, 300 pounds, Sherman likes long tackles that aren't too tall where they can’t bend. Perkins has the body type and demeanor to play in the SEC. For what Mike Sherman looks for in an offensive lineman and what the Aggies are going to need in the SEC, Perkins immediately becomes one of A&M biggest needs in 2013.

Perkins' versatility makes him a coveted SEC prospect.

#4- Jake Raulerson- There are a number of aspects of Jake Raulerson as a prospect one can hit on, but it’s his non-stop motor that impresses the most. Whether it’s at defensive end or right tackle, the Celina prospect is simply relentless and attacks the game with a motor rarely seen on the line. Depending on how big the 6-5, 250-pounder gets down the road, Raulerson can play all five positions on the line or you can flip him to DE. He already holds offers from the cream of the crop in the SEC so there is no doubting his ability to compete in that league.

#5- Jake Oliver- The Aggie legacy is easily the most polished receiver in the state, and completely dominates the field. The 6-3, 200-pounder is an extremely intelligent player, and he can really control his body well in the air. Though he doesn't have top end speed, he has good footwork and is able to get space with his ability to run good routes. Mike Sherman knows that the Dallas Jesuit wide-out fits exactly what he’s looking for in an outside target and that he will have the ability to find holes in SEC defenses.

#6- Brett Wade- When the Aggies enter the SEC they will join the West division with the likes of Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and Ole Miss, who all run pro-style offenses. The only spread teams A&M will face are Auburn and Mississippi State. Dat Nguyen is going to need inside linebackers who can play the run. The Kennedale defender stands 6-2, 215 and plays viciously downhill. In 2010, Wade recorded 133 tackles and nine sacks. He's got a knack for the ball and could be a force up the middle in the SEC.

#7- Desean Smith- The only Louisiana prospect on the list for a reason. Tight end is a priority position for Mike Sherman in 2013 and the 6-5, 222-pounder is the ideal fit. The Barbe (LA) product will not only be a force as an extension of the offensive line but he can stretch the field in a physical league like the Southeastern Conference.

#8- Darius James- The Harker Heights lineman could be a prospect capable of playing all five positions up front which makes him an even more appealing player for A&M because Terrell Williams likes guys who can play multiple positions on the line. The 6-6, 320-pounder has the body of a prototype 3-4 nose but many feel he projects better on the offensive side of the ball. The Aggies feel he can be an elite DT for them in the future and many analysts feel there isn't a better big athlete in the state than James for 2013.

#9- Isaiah Golden- If a player can be a jack-of-all-trades at 6-foot-2, 295-pounds, it’s the DT from Elysian Fields. He played defensive end, offensive guard and fullback in 2010. He has first step quickness as a defensive tackle prospect, is flexible and bends well and has impressive natural strength. In all, Golden has all the intangibles to play and compete in the SEC.

#10- Derrick Griffin- The 6-6-200-pounder is one impressive athlete. His height is legit and when one factors in his explosive leaping ability, his top end speed, his toughness and soft hands, you get a big-time SEC prospect. He’s not the complete receiver Oliver is but if Mike Sherman wanted another Jeff Fuller-like receiver, the Rosenberg-Terry product passes the eye-ball test. If Griffin focuses on football he could be tremendous addition to A&M’s pro-style offense.

#11- Rickey Seals-Jones- The Sealy play-maker is a big time SEC tight end prospect. While he plays nearly everywhere, but tight end, he is already drawing comparisons to Martellus Bennett and Jermichael Finley and will likely end up somewhere in between and closer to Bennett.

Griffin is the ideal heir apparent to Jeff Fuller

#12- A’Shawn Robinson- He plays defensive tackle for Arlington Heights, but is likely to be recruited as an offensive tackle by many SEC programs. The 6-4, 318-pounder, is one of the top handful of 2013 linemen in the Lone Star state. Like some of the other linemen on this list, Robinson is talented enough to play on both sides of the ball.

#13- Paul Whitmill- The Bastrop linebacker has excellent closing speed to the football and his wingspan allows him to play taller than his height would indicate when playing the pass. However, he’s plays better in space than against the run so that’s why he listed behind Wade. The 6-0, 200-pounder doesn’t project as well in the SEC but he is versatile enough to rush off the edge in A&M’s 3-4. Overall, he’s easily one of the best linebackers available in 2013.

Let the debate begin.

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