If you have ever seen the excellent 1988 movie Eight Men Out that covered the Black Sox scandal of 1919, you may recall a scene in which two of the characters become suspicious of some of the White Sox actions. The two men agree to score a game separately and make notes of which plays seemed suspect to compare after the game.
That concept is basically what I hope to highlight in regards to Jimbo Fisher’s top-ranked recruiting class of 2022. After scanning over recruiting reports from the past year, there are many notations to make. Nick Saban claimed that Fisher “bought” the whole class. Jimbo’s argument for why so many top-rated prospects landed in his lap was because Texas A&M is such an amazing place to go to college.
Fisher signed 30 players to the class. For relative purposes, I will be addressing only the top 14 in that group. An additional 16 lower-ranked recruits were signed, but none of them really factor into this conversation.
#2 player in the nation Walter Nolen DT 5-star Powell, TN
FISHY: When was the last time TAMU pulled a top recruit from a Tennessee high school, much less the #2 player in the country? Looking all the way back to the 2002 class, the Aggies have signed a grand total of four players from the Volunteer state in that span before Nolan. None of them were ranked higher than 400. Since Fisher took over in College Station, there have been two Tennesseans sign on: Dallas Walker IV who was the #487 prospect in 2020 and Chris Russell, the #408 from 2019. Neither is making much of an impact on the team. But this story goes back further. The Nolens originally hail from Memphis. As Walter was emerging as a star football player, he was playing in Olive Branch, Mississippi which is a Memphis suburb. Tennessee started to look like the leader for his signature, when lo and behold - a miracle! Dad gets a new job! In Powell, Tennessee. A suburb of Knoxville. So the whole family just ups and moves 400 miles across the state to - what a coincidence - a town 10 minutes away from the UT campus. But I guess Josh Heupel’s pitch just wasn’t enough after the NIL floodgates burst open.
#9 Shemar Stewart DE 5-star Opa Locka, FL
FISHY: Here we are again with TAMU pulling guys from an other part of the country. Miami was the big leader early on. Stewart practically lived on the Coral Gables campus last summer and attended the Miami-Alabama in Atlanta. Suddenly in October, there is some interest in the Aggies that manifests into all the crootin experts predicting his signing with Texas A&M. New ‘Canes coach Mario Cristobal and former Miami, now Alabama coach Travaris Robinson put the full court press on Stewart, but amazingly he picks the Aggies.
#11 Evan Stewart WR 5-star Frisco, TX
FISHY: For the longest time, Texas looked like the leader for the nation’s top wide receiver prospect. He committed to the Longhorns in February 2021 only to decommit a month later. Alabama put uber-recruiter Holmon Wiggins on him. Stewart pared it down to Bama, TAMU, and Texas but he landed at TAMU.
#16 Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy DT 5-star Lakeland, FL
FISHY: Everybody and their brother had this Florida native pegged for Oklahoma, including “experts” such as 247’s Steve Wiltfong and Rivals’ Mike Farrell. Jimbo paid him a visit in December and the guy committed to the Aggies a few days later.
#18 Lebbeus Overton DE 5-star Milton, GA
FISHY: Alabama was never really in on this guy but UGA sure was. Overton was considered top 5 overall prospect in the 2023 class before reclassifying to the 2022 cycle in February. His father, Milton Overton, was a former Associate AD at Alabama from 2009 to 2015 and had a close relationship with Kirby Smart while he was Saban’s DC. To be fair, Milton was also Associate AD at Texas A&M (1999–2009) and is currently AD at Kennesaw State in Atlanta metro. Georgia thought for sure they had this guy.
#22 Conner Weigman QB 5-star Cypress, TX
#23 Denver Harris DB 5-star Houston, TX
FISHY: Alabama looked like the final destination for much of last summer leading up to his OV in late June. Into fall, there was a lot of silence until a December in-home by Jimbo. Harris OV’d College Station a week later and signed the week after that.
#25 Chris Marshall WR 5-star Missouri City, TX
NOT FISHY: He only took two OVs: TAMU and a “sightseeing” tour of Southern Cal.
#39 Jacoby Mathews DB 4-star Ponchatoula, LA
FISHY: It was brought to my attention that there was a whole lotta fishy surrounding Mathews. Leading up to signing day, all the momentum seemed to be for him to stay home and attend LSU. Soon after he surprisingly signed with the Aggies, message boards were blowing up that Jimbo had promised him close to half a million dollars.
#47 Enai White DE 4-star Philadelphia, PA
FISHY: Philadelphia? To College Station? Really? He was actually from the Trenton, New Jersey area before moving 30 miles down the road to a Philly private school. But still. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Summer OVs to Bama, Florida, UGA and Ohio State; Jimbo has an in-house in December; White OVs a week later; signs with TAMU five days later.
#59 Anthony Lucas DE 4-star Scottsdale, AZ
FISHY: Alabama made some strong moves with this guy. He took all his OVs in June and had two unofficial visits to Tuscaloosa for games in November. This time, Jimbo’s December in-home was preceded by a Saban in-home two days earlier. Since when has Fisher been a better closer than Saban? @I’m sure Jimbo had nothing but good things to say about his former boss.@
#64 Kam Dewberry OL 4-star Humble, TX
NOT FISHY: He was pretty gung-ho for the fake Army school for awhile. Not much buzz from Alabama.
#82 Le’Veon Moss RB 4-star Baton Rouge, LA
FISHY: A few days after a June 2021 Official Visit to Tuscaloosa, Moss committed to Alabama. Two weeks later, he OV’d College Station. Shortly after a July unofficial visit to CS, he decommitted from Bama for unexplained reasons.
#95 Jake Johnson TE 4-star; #1 tight end Athens, GA
FISHY: Did you notice the hometown? This one looked like a UGA/Bama/LSU battle: hometown school versus a team that needs a tight end in a bad way versus the school where is brother - Max Johnson - was QB. He committed to LSU to be with his brother. Then despite Max being the Tigers’ starter, they both moved to TAMU. Older brother might not even start this year. [SIDE NOTE: His dad is former NFL QB Brad Johnson who is the brother-in-law of Mark Richt.]