Since taking over as head coach at Texas A&M a little over a year ago, it’s hard to argue that any coach in college football (short of Nick Saban) is riding a hotter hot streak than Kevin Sumlin.
And while part of that is certainly attributed to some Johnny Manziel-infused football magic, a lot is also a credit to the fact that no coach in the country seems to “get” 18-22-year-old kids quite like Sumlin does. It starts with the air-raid offense yes, but also trickles all the way down to the smallest little details, like allowing music to be played during practice. Understand that while “music at practice” might not mean much to you, it means a crap-ton to kids playing college football. And it was something that would’ve never been considered until Sumlin arrived last spring.
Well Sumlin was back at it again on Friday night, when the Aggies hosted their second annual “Friday Night Lights” spring scrimmage. In the process, Sumlin also proved that if he ever decides to give up this whole “football” thing, he’s got a bright future in the entertainment industry as well.
Ultimately, Friday Night Lights was exactly what it sounds like it would be; an occasion in which Texas A&M turned their second to last scrimmage of the spring (the Aggies’ spring game is next Saturday) into an all-out event, played under the lights and open to both fans, and not surprisingly, high school recruits in the class of 2014 and 2015 as well.
Of course if you think Friday night was all about football, well, clearly you don’t know Kevin Sumlin.
That’s because along touchdown passes and end zone dances, Sumlin turned Friday night into an event more than football scrimmage. He even topped it all off by bringing in a DJ to spin records on the sidelines.
Yes, a real live disc jockey.
Safe to say that, well… Kevin Sumlin blew this mother*&%#er out… HARD!!!
Sumlin rolled out the proverbial maroon carpet, including a disc jockey spinning tunes from an 18-wheeler trailer inside Kyle Field, for a slew of recruits and before thousands of fans who almost filled up the west-side lower deck.
The second of these gatherings offered the second-year coach a chance to capitalize on a few fronts for A&M with one week of spring drills remaining: To scrimmage free of the probing ESPN cameras that will be on hand in one week for the annual spring game; to break up the monotony of spring practice by cranking on the lights on a pleasant spring night; and to showcase the program to many of the top prospects from the high school classes of 2014 and '15.
And really, that last point is the most important one: Friday Night Lights (and the hype around it), isn’t so much for the fans in the stands or even the players on the field, but instead it’s about creating buzz and getting theattention of the next group of Aggies. As Zwerneman later referenced, nearly 35 of the top high school sophomores and juniors in Texas attend Friday night’s event.
And frankly, that might be what is most impressive about the early part of Sumlin’s tenure at A&M. It isn’t just about the wins on the field, but turning the Aggies into the “it” program around Texas off the field as well.
Look the simple truth is that even in their darkest years, A&M recruited at a pretty ridiculously high level. But still, there’s a difference between the classes Mike Sherman and Dennis Franchione brought in years ago, and what Sumlin did in his first full season at the school this past February. In 2013 A&M signed the No. 11 ranked class overall according to Rivals.com, a class which featured the No. 1 wide receiver in the country in Ricky Seals-Jones, as well as a number of others guys who could’ve gone anywhere in the country.
And the scary thing is, Sumlin is only getting started. Remember, by the time Sumlin arrived at the school last December, in a lot of ways it was already too late to make a big impact on the class of 2013. And really, it’s the classes of 2014 and 2015 where we’re going to see the A&M-express really pick up steam.
But while that buzz starts with wins on the field, it’s only continues by standing up and standing out on non game-day Saturday’s as well. And it starts with events like Friday night; whether fans at any other rival schools want to admit it or not (specifically one that may or may not be located in Austin), it’s the little things, like having a DJ at a practice on a Friday night, which is what catches the attention of high school kids.
After all, anyone can have a scrimmage on a Saturday afternoon. How many schools do it on a Friday night thought with some Jazzy Jeff wanna-be dropping beats on the 40-yard line?
It’s why this is one of the hottest programs in the sport.
And why Kevin Sumlin continues to ride the hottest hot streak in all of college football.
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