The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M Aggies guard Tyrece Radford (23) blocks Arkansas Razorbacks guard Tramon Mark (12) during Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)
Free falling
February 20, 2024
Jace LaViolette (17) an Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle celebrating a home run during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
GALLERY: Baseball vs. UIW
February 20, 2024
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) catches a pop fly during Texas A&M’s game against McNeese on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024 at Blue Bell Park. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Four for four
February 20, 2024
Texas A&M Aggies guard Tyrece Radford (23) blocks Arkansas Razorbacks guard Tramon Mark (12) during Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)
Free falling
February 20, 2024
Jace LaViolette (17) an Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle celebrating a home run during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
GALLERY: Baseball vs. UIW
February 20, 2024
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) catches a pop fly during Texas A&M’s game against McNeese on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024 at Blue Bell Park. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Four for four
February 20, 2024

Column: Top of the Class

Inside New York City’s Radio City Music Hall on Thursday night, Texas A&M’s “triple threat” of offensive talent – offensive tackle Jake Matthews, wide receiver Mike Evans and Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel – made school history by being the first trio of Aggies to be drafted in the first 22 picks of the NFL Draft.
For the second time in school history, A&M produced three first-round draft picks – a feat it hadn’t accomplished since 1994 when “Wrecking Crew” standouts and future three-time Pro Bowlers Sam Adams and Aaron Glenn were drafted No. 8 and No. 12 overall, respectively. In addition, Greg Hill – the fourth all-time career rusher in Aggie history -was selected No. 25 overall.
In the decade and a half that would follow the Aggies’ original trio of first-rounders, A&M would produce a mere three first round picks. Things would begin to change, however, beginning with Von Miller’s selection by the Denver Broncos as the second overall pick in 2011. Since that moment, A&M has produced at least one first round pick for four consecutive years – a first in program history. During this stretch, A&M has had at least one pick in the top 10 each year.
Undoubtedly, these last four years have seen the A&M program climb out of what will be remembered as one of its deepest holes. Not so coincidentally, the Aggies’ early success in the SEC has allowed them to join their conference mates in producing more top-flight NFL talent than any other conference. This year, the SEC produced 11 of the 32 first round picks. The second-closest conference was the ACC, with just five first-round selections.
While its tenure in College Station was relatively short lived, this draft class’s impact on A&M’s new-look program will resemble the “Air Raid” offense it used to take the SEC by storm – swift, exciting, and unforgettable. Because of the Aggies’ takeover of the first round, the message head coach Kevin Sumlin is sending to high school players in Texas and around the country couldn’t be clearer: If you want to play in “the league,” come play at Texas A&M.
Even before the Aggies put more players in the first round than the entire Big 12 Thursday night, A&M had been reaping the benefits of its return to national prominence for some time. A top-five recruiting class in 2014 with the likes of Kyle Allen, the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the country out of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Speedy Noil, the No. 1 athlete in the country from New Orleans who represents a huge recruiting win over division rival LSU, would’ve never materialized without the star power Johnny Football and his comrades brought to the SEC. As a result of Thursday’s success, A&M now has even more selling power and a rapidly growing list of NFL alums that will make its efforts to recruit on a national level that much easier.
Of course one simply needs to drive by the A&M campus and take a glance at what will be remembered as “the house that Johnny built” to see just how important these three Aggie superstars have been and how great of an impact they have had on their university. The renovation of Kyle Field from a Soviet bloc-inspired monolith to a brick-laden, maroon-glowing, 102,000-seating diamond was probably the last thing on anyone’s mind following a 6-6 farewell tour of the Big 12. If nothing else, I’d like to thank Johnny personally for ensuring that I’ll never again have to use a pig trough as a urinal at an A&M home game. That’s progress, my friends.
All told, this will go down as the most successful draft class in A&M history, and the exposure that Manziel, Matthews and Evans have afforded A&M due to their on-field prowess will leave marks on a resurging program that go beyond records, renovations or reminiscences. What these three players – along with the Tannehills and Joeckels that proceeded them – have brought to Aggieland is the return of a program that lives up to the passion and commitment of its fan base. For the first time in over a decade, A&M’s product on the field is on the same level as the love it’s shown off the field week in and week out, win or loss, tragedy or triumph by the best fans in the world – the 12th Man.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *