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How Realignment Did and Didn't Change Texas A&M Recruiting

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It made a difference, but it's less clear of one than what we had with Missouri.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Don't miss the follow up post on how A&M's 2012 changes affected recruiting in the whole region. -Ed.

Yesterday, I took a look at how realignment changed Missouri's recruiting. Today, I'm focusing the lens on Texas A&M to see how the move to the SEC did, and did not, change the way the Aggies bring in talent.

If you just write a narrative without looking at the numbers, you'd guess that Texas A&M gets the vast majority of its players from its talent-rich home state. On that count, you'd be correct. You might also guess that after the move to the SEC, the Aggies would begin to do more recruiting in the SEC West states, just as Mizzou did with SEC East states. On that front, you'd be wrong:

Season Total Signings TX Signings LA Signings AZ Signings TX Pct. LA Pct.
2002 23 22 1 0 95.7% 4.3%
2003 24 24 0 0 100.0% 0.0%
2004 28 21 2 0 75.0% 7.1%
2005 25 21 1 0 84.0% 4.0%
2006 23 18 0 0 78.3% 0.0%
2007 18 15 1 0 83.3% 5.6%
2008 24 22 0 0 91.7% 0.0%
2009 28 24 3 0 85.7% 10.7%
2010 24 20 4 0 83.3% 16.7%
2011 21 13 3 0 61.9% 14.3%
2012 19 15 1 0 78.9% 5.3%
2013 32 23 3 1 71.9% 9.4%
2014 21 15 2 2 71.4% 9.5%
2015 26 19 3 1 73.1% 11.5%

All numbers here and throughout the piece are from Rivals.com.

The one state that A&M began getting players from that it didn't before the SEC move is Arizona. Kevin Sumlin's staff began pulling a few players from out there, including current starting quarterback Kyle Allen. Unless there is some kind of SEC fervor out there that I'm unaware of, I'm not going to chalk that change up to realignment.

Since 2002, which is as far back as the Rivals.com recruiting database goes, TAMU hasn't signed a single player from Arkansas or Alabama. It signed seven players out of Mississippi over that span, but they're spread out from 2004-15 and all of them were JUCO transfers.

Louisiana has been giving the program a notable number of players of late, but that trend started with Mike Sherman's first full class well before the SEC move. Aside from Sumlin's transitional class, at least 9% of A&M's signings have come from Louisiana since 2009. Numbers-wise, TAMU joining the SEC hasn't resulted in more Aggies hailing from SEC West states. The same goes for the SEC East states, with one player from Missouri in 2012 (which probably shouldn't even count for these purposes) and one player from Florida in 2015 being the program's only signings from over there since realigning. Again, that trails the program's talent haul from Arizona in the same span.

One place we do see a change is in the quality of the recruiting classes. Here is a look at the past decade of Aggie recruiting in regards to 4-star and 5-star prospects:

Texas A&M recruiting

The blue chip percentage for Dennis Franchione's last two years was 19.5%. For Mike Sherman's four years, it was 24.7%. Since the SEC move in 2012, it's been 48%.

Because Texas A&M changed coaches the same year it changed conferences, it's impossible to tell how much of the change was due to Kevin Sumlin and how much was the lure of the SEC. We've heard recruits cite getting to play in the SEC as a big reason why they chose A&M, but for what it's worth, Missouri did not experience an increase in its blue chip percentage since changing leagues. For MU, it has continued in the same 4-8% range with an occasional single-year jump higher than that. It might not be worth that much though, since Texas has lots of blue chip talent within its borders and Missouri doesn't. With Mizzou having replaced its Texas recruiting with recruiting in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee, it doesn't have that a unique conference affiliation pitch in the way that A&M does inside its own state.

I did some more investigation work into at whose expense the Aggies' blue chip recruiting gains came, but that'll be coming tomorrow. For now, we can conclude that conference realignment probably helped Texas A&M on the recruiting trail, but so did Kevin Sumlin's arrival.

Realignment did not, however, lead to a new influx of players from the previous SEC states to College Station.