Texas A&M's social media blitz began long before Thursday night.
Fans who ventured over to Texas A&M’s football Twitter feed or the account of the program’s social media arm, @AggieFBLife, have been inundated with NFL draft data during the last week.
That #whosnext hashtag? That’s a message directed at recruits, one the Aggies have used for years, as if to say, “Who’s next to commit to Texas A&M?”
The Aggies aren’t the only program promoting their draft picks. What's unique is that this year, for the first time in program history, Texas A&M had the No. 1 overall pick. And few things get as much publicity as the guy who gets picked first.
Myles Garrett’s career at Texas A&M is over, but his effect on the program will continue.
In the short term, the Aggies will use their social media resources to promote Garrett (and their other draft picks, of which there are likely to be at least four or five) and their recent draft success. Texas A&M is one of two teams nationwide with a first-round draft pick in each of the last seven years, something Aggies coaches make sure to point out. (SEC West rival Alabama, which has had nine straight years with a first-round pick, is the other.)
Texas A&M for 7 consecutive years with a player drafted in the 1st round. #whosnext— Clarence McKinney (@AggiesCMac) April 28, 2017
In the long term, Garrett’s impact can be felt if the Aggies can turn his draft status into recruiting success. The Aggies are trying to move up the SEC West food chain, and in order to do that, they must sign top-flight talent. When they signed Garrett in the 2014 recruiting class, he was the No. 4 overall player in the ESPN 300. That class came on the heels of the Aggies’ 20-6 record in their first two SEC seasons and all the attention that surrounded the program during the Johnny Manziel era. The result was the best recruiting class the Aggies have had in the Sumlin era. It was ranked No. 4 in the nation by ESPN.
Trying to sign a top-five class in 2018 might be a stretch, given the Aggies’ three consecutive 8-5 seasons. But Texas is always fertile recruiting ground, as evidenced by the fact that four former Texas high school stars (Garrett, Stanford's Solomon Thomas, LSU's Jamal Adams and Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes II) were selected in the top 10 of the draft on Thursday night. And when it comes to in-state talent, Texas A&M can boast something others in the state can't -- an active, consistent, extended track record of churning out first-round picks. Sumlin, defensive coordinator John Chavis and defensive ends coach Terry Price can tell recruits that they can follow in Garrett's footsteps. As more Aggies have their names called this weekend, that will add to the program’s recruiting efforts.
Winning is important to recruits, but so is a path to the NFL. Garrett is now the example with the highest profile. And though he passed through Aggieland before Sumlin was A&M's head coach, a premier defensive player such as Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller helps, too.
Given his unique personality, wide-ranging interests and spotless off-the-field résumé (he hasn't created negative headlines for himself), Garrett is an easy player to attach to a sales pitch. If the Aggies can capitalize on that on the recruiting trail, it could pay dividends in the win column.