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December 13, 2012

McKinney a difference maker in Houston recruiting

Texas A&M receivers coach David Beaty has basically reestablished the Aggies as a force in the Dallas area, a region long dominated by Texas and Oklahoma. Beaty helped flip Texas commit Thomas Johnson and Oklahoma commit Devante Harris in the 2012 class and has followed it up with seven Dallas-area commitments in the class of 2013, four of them being four star prospects.

His counterpart, running backs coach Clarence McKinney, has gone virtually unnoticed in the Houston area despite obtaining similar results. McKinney has landed eight commits in the class of 2013 and some of them are the biggest names in A&M's top ten rated group and the state of Texas as a whole.

For example, just this week the Aggies landed Sealy athlete Ricky Seals-Jones, the number two prospect in the state per Rivals.com. Seals-Jones was originally committed to Texas but A&M continued to recruit him while he was committed to the Horns. Although everyone remembers that A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin showed up in a helicopter at one of Seals-Jones' games this season, everyone forgets that McKinney was with Sumlin for the ride and was actually the point man on A&M's efforts.

"Oh wow, that night he flew in with Coach Sumlin on a helicopter that did wonders," said Seals-Jones' father Chester. "That was a pretty awesome deal."

Seals-Jones is not the only prospect that McKinney flipped in 2013 class either. Manvel receiver Kyrion Parker had declared LSU as his leader last spring before even going to a camp there, receiving an offer, and committing to the Tigers. However, McKinney got both Parker and teammate Tavares Garner to a June camp at A&M and shortly thereafter, Parker de-committed from the Tigers to the Aggies.

In fact, McKinney is already making inroads into the 2014 class at a similar level. This week, the Aggies landed not only Seals-Jones La Porte but junior linebacker Hoza Scott, who is arguably the number one prospect in next year's class. Scott chose the Aggies over offers from programs such as Texas, Alabama, Florida, LSU, and Oregon which means that McKinney was not only able to secure a commitment against the best recruiters in the country but do so over a year prior to signing day. McKinney also went out of the Houston area to snag Lake Travis running back Varshaun Nixon, another four star in the 2014 class.

What makes McKinney such a valuable asset for the Aggies? Well, for one thing McKinney shares a very similar background with Beaty. McKnney coached at three different high school programs in the Houston area and was head coach at Houston Yates. In addition, he was on Sumlin's staff at the University of Houston for four years. Thus, he not only knows high school coaches throughout the Houston area but he's familiar with most of the prospects as well from the time that they are freshman. He's welcomed with open arms in programs across the city.

For another, McKinney is personable and well liked on the recruiting trail. It's not just his drive and work ethic that sets him apart; he also wins overs prospects both with his personality and his salesmanship regarding the A&M program.

"He is a cool guy and down to earth," 2013 commit Jonathan Wiggins said. "He really lets me know that I can make a difference."

Wiggins is not the only one who has been swayed by his relationship with McKinney.

"It's meant a lot," Hoza Scott said in an interview on AggieYell.com even before this week's commitment to the Aggies. "He's real chill, he knows how to make you laugh, and he's a lot of fun to be around."

"Coach McKinney and I stayed in touch and we talk all of the time. Talking with him was more relaxed not like a business call. I could talk with him about anything."

"I have been talking to him (McKinney) since the state 7 on 7 tournament" said Varshaun Nixon after his commitment. "I was on campus that weekend and he couldn't see me but we stayed in touch on and off. He talked about how A&M was where it was at and how he wants me to come out and play. He got me really excited and really pumped about everything."

Chester Jones weighed in from a parents' perspective and his comments may have been the most illuminating of all.

"Make sure everyone knows that Coa,ch McKinney is a good, good, good man" he said. "He is not only a great recruiter but also a great man. From a scale of 1 to 10, he is a 10. He is one of the best. He is a good recruiter for Ricky. Ricky loves him."

"After Ricky committed he did not stop. He keeps on coming. He and Ricky talked just about every day before he committed and they still talk. He told Ricky no matter what my door is always open. He said if you need anything at all let me know. I've heard that if you need something from him, there is a 99.9% chance he is going to follow through with it and get it done for you."

"As a dad, it takes someone you can trust to be able to hand your son over to them. I trust Coach McKinney. From the moment he started recruiting Ricky, and he has been there since the beginning, I knew he was a good man. It did not take long to trust him. He wouldn't tell us things that he thought we wanted to hear, he would tell us the truth. He was upfront and did not hold back."

"Buffy (Seals-Jones' mother) had a lot of questions for him and all of the coaches. Coach McKinney knew she was a concerned mom so he made to sure to take time to answer all of her questions and assure her Ricky would be well taken care of. At a game he went and sat by her and answered anything that came to her mind. She is very comfortable with him. We all are."

"He is not going to tell you anything that is not going to happen. You want your kid to be recruited by a man like that."

With Beaty in Dallas and McKinney in Houston, the A&M staff has formidable recruiters in the state of Texas in its two most talent rich regions. They share similar backgrounds and similar productivity and have played a large role in the Aggies' landing a top ten class in 2013 and probably an even better one 2014. Beaty's efforts are more publicized due to A&M's struggles in the Dallas area in recent years but McKinney has also helped reclaim Houston for A&M and that's just as important.


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