College Sports: Two Texas prospects that ‘fueled the drama’ during recruitment look to make splash as Texas A&M and UCLA clash

In the weeks leading up to national signing day in 2015, Texas A&M defensive tackle Daylon Mack and UCLA running back Soso Jamabo were caught up in one of the most dramatic recruiting cycles in recent memory.

Jamabo, a coveted running back from Plano West, went viral when he referenced ITT Tech and the University of Phoenix as potential destinations. Mack, a top prospect out of Gladewater, had a suspenseful recruitment that featured a trademarked hashtag, a decommitment from A&M and a pledge to the Aggies in a nationally-televised ceremony on signing day.

Mack and Jamabo were two of the five-star prospects in Texas that year that fueled the drama in that recruiting cycle. On at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Mack’s Aggies and Jamabo’s Bruins will meet at the Rose Bowl in the season opener for both schools.

Both players, like the other 5-star recruits in that class, are still looking to live up to the hype that surrounded their respective recruitments in the winter of 2015.

“I have talked to enough recruiters over the years that they know that sometimes the guys who create the drama are the ones who can’t manage to create success on the next level,” said Jeremy Crabtree, who covered recruiting for almost 20 years at ESPN and Rivals.com.

Jamabo could enter the season as the Bruins’ No. 2 running back. Mack, who appeared in all 13 games for A&M last season, has yet to make a start for the Aggies.

The other three Texans who were 5-star prospects in 2015 according to 247Sports.com’s composite ranking are also trying to show why they were deemed, for better or worse, future superstars.

Mesquite Poteet’s Malik Jefferson has made 18 starts as one of Texas’ linebackers but found himself benched at one point last season. Former Fort Bend Marshall defensive back Kendall Marshall, the only one of the five without a Twitter account, signed with Alabama before transferring and eventually signing with Ohio State this spring.

And of course there’s Kyler Murray, the former Allen quarterback who won three state titles and played a significant amount of time at A&M before transferring to Oklahoma, where he is No. 2 on the depth chart this season.

Mack and Murray were part of the A&M signing class in 2015 that was ranked 11th in the country by 247Sports.

Mack has shown flashes of dominance in two years, but according to A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, has struggled with keeping his weight down. According to TexAgs.com, Sumlin told those at an alumni event that Mack had metaphorically given up his “gold card” to Chicken Express.

The A&M junior defensive tackle took the comment in stride and shared it to his following of more than 25,000, a number that was primarily built on the recruiting brand he built during the process. Mack’s recruitment is most known for his family’s trademark of “#WRTS,” an acronym that stands for “We Run This State,” A&M’s slogan during the ’15 recruiting campaign.

A&M starting junior defensive tackle Kingsley Keke, who was a 3-star recruit from Richmond George Ranch, said Mack has made a lot of improvement in the offseason. Mack, who hasn’t been interviewed while at A&M, was not made available to comment on this story.

“I see this spring, this fall, he’s done a great job of trying to get his weight down,” Keke said. “He’s working harder and just being better.”

Meanwhile at UCLA, Jamabo is getting adjusted to his third offensive coordinator in three years. Last season, Jamabo led the Bruins in rushing with 321 yards. Unfortunately for him, UCLA’s rushing offense was second-to-last in the country in 2016.

“Our running game was awful, and I’m hopeful that it will be improved and get back to where it was the first few years we were together as a staff,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said at Pac-12 media days this summer. “I feel good about the direction it’s headed.”

Coming out of high school, 2017 could have been Mack and Jamabo’s last year of college football before they were eligible for the NFL draft.

But things didn’t go according to the hype. Projecting superstars, even if they are 5-star recruits in the age of digital highlight reels, is still an inexact science.

And for Mack, Jamabo and the rest of those in the heralded ’15 class, there’s still time to work things out.

“Sometimes it takes a couple of years to recalculate, get your stuff together and eventually become something,” Crabtree said.

Twitter: @Ben_Baby

Star Power?

A look at the top five prospects in the class of 2015 and a look at their careers up until this point. Ranking are based on 247Sports.com’s composite ranking.

Rk. Player High School Notable

1.

Malik Jefferson

Mesquite Poteet

Third in total tackes for Texas in ’16

2.

Daylon Mack

Gladewater

Made 21/2 tackles for loss in ’16,

3.

Kendall Sheffield

Fort Bend Marshall

Signed with Ohio State in ’17 after one JUCO season

4.

Soso Jamabo

Plano West

Rushed for 321 yards in ’16; fighting for starting spot

5.

Kyler Murray

Allen

Ex-A&M QB is Baker Mayfield’s back-up at OU

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