On Friday, Dalton Santos held a news conference at his high school in Van, Texas to announce his college decision. His pick? Tennessee.
The linebacker is ranked by our ESPNU recruiting team as the nation's No. 1 inside linebacker in the 2012 class, thought by many to be leaning toward nearby Texas A&M after decommitting from Oklahoma State back in June.
I've said numerous times that Texas A&M leaving the Big 12 for the SEC won't provide them with substantial recruiting advantage over Texas, and any recruiting advantage that did surface would be snuffed out by increased losses in a tougher league that hasn't lost to Texas A&M in six meetings since 1995.
Santos' decision to leave Big 12 country unsurprisingly prompted a handful of e-mails like this one over the weekend:
Paul Kumar in Hudson Oaks, Texas was the first, and wrote:
2012 recruit Dalton Santos to Volquest.com on why he chose Tennessee over Texas A&M: "The conference really put them over the top... being able to do things in the SEC will show that i can play anywhere..."
Still think switching conferences wouldn't give them a plausible leg up on Texas h.s. talent that would choose the best best of both worlds (location and competition level) if given the opportunity?
Short term might be rough, but long term could produce greatness.
Nope. I'm not buying it. I still don't buy the idea that playing in the SEC -- Texas A&M's presence in it or otherwise -- would be a huge factor in the recruiting game.
Santos is one player, and a 245-pound linebacker who runs a 4.65 40, with this scouting report, via our staff.
Santos is a dominant run stopper from inside to the edge; his excellent instincts and immediate reactions allow him to create havoc in the backfield. Has the size and athleticism for the inside linebacker position at the major level of competition. ...
We detect some lower body stiffness when dropping into short/medium zone coverage his overall balance and agility get him to the football consistently; does a very good job with key and diagnosis skills against the run and pass. ....
This guy is a factor to recon with when attempting to run the ball inside or off the edge. We see a very smart football player in coverage although one who will need to be carefully game planned when given man coverage assignments;
Now, if you're Santos, what league do you think better suits your style of play? The sling-it-around Big 12 driven by quarterbacks with offenses that require linebackers to excel in coverage and showcase their speed?
Or the SEC, where Santos can use his already gifted talents in the run game, and develop his skills in coverage as he matures later in his career?
Citing a desire to play in that league sounds great when people ask about it and a team like Tennessee steals a player from Texas, a rare occurrence. (The Vols 2011 roster, featuring 100-plus players, has exactly zero players from Texas.)
But it's nothing to draw a huge conclusion about. Santos isn't indicative of a cultural change, a sign that players growing up in Texas suddenly want to play in the best league in college football, where the SEC has solidifed itself with five consecutive national championships by four different teams.
Santos is one player whose strengths would better suit him in the SEC.