Where will Gunnell turn after decommitting from Texas A&M?
Even after Texas A&M made the decision to move on from Kevin Sumlin following last season, there wasn’t a strong expectation that 2019 quarterback commit Grant Gunnell would be inclined to de-commit from the Aggies. However, on Tuesday night, Gunnell did just that - even after a recent wave of positive recruiting momentum leading up to last week’s National Signing Day by Jimbo Fisher and the new staff in College Station.
As one of the top quarterbacks in the 2019 class, all eyes will be on his recruitment with what promises to be a busy spring for the Houston-area prospect. Here is a look at the schools that will push hardest for his next commitment as he gears up for his senior season.
The Razorbacks have been the first team that many have already pointed to as an obvious contender for Gunnell, largely because both of his parents went there and his grandfather won a national championship on the 1964 team.
With Chad Morris now entrenched as the head coach and a renewed optimism in the direction of the team and offense, Gunnell should be willing to give the Razorbacks a close look this offseason. Over the last two seasons at SMU, the Morris-led Mustangs threw the ball nearly 40 times a game, and for a player like Gunnell, who has had so much success chucking the ball downfield for eye-popping numbers in high school, that is going to be something that will add to the appeal of also being a legacy program to him.
The Wildcats will no doubt like their chances to at least factor into Gunnell’s decision going forward with Sumlin and former Aggies offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone now in Tucson. Mazzone was one of the biggest influencers in Gunnell's decision to originally commit to Texas A&M, and Mazzone reconnected with Gunnell at the end of January with a new opportunity at Arizona.
Sumlin and Morris both seem to have a bit of an axe to grind with A&M and effectively winning a recruiting battle against the Aggies for a Rivals100 QB would be a point of pride for either. After the success Arizona showed last season down the stretch with a surprising run of games by quarterback Khalil Tate, there is an inherent interest in the offensive potential at Arizona, and the staff there will stay on Gunnell.
Gunnell had questions about the philosophy of the new staff in regards of what it wanted from a quarterback, but Fisher signed off on an offer for Gunnell while at Florida State, so it stands to reason that there will be some form of relationship between the two going forward. With Gunnell also having a brother on the team, if there is any significant mutual interest, that connection has to be a major consideration.
The likelihood seems greater for a gap to grow during this offseason as Gunnell takes visits and hears more from other programs, but at the moment, it’s certainly not in the Aggies’ best interest to burn the bridge with him.
The Crimson Tide may not have been consistently linked to Gunnell after coming through with an offer in May of last year, but seldom does a recruit not consider Alabama when it chooses to get involved. Former Aggies recruiting and special teams coordinator Jeff Banks is now in Tuscaloosa, and will likely try and capitalize on the prior relationship with the added swagger of being a part of a staff that comes off of winning yet another national championship.
The jury is still out on how the quarterback situation will shake out next season between Tua Tagaovailoa and Jalen Hurts, and Alabama didn’t sign a quarterback in its 2018 class. The ingredients for a strong sales pitch to Gunnell seem to be on the table, but the question is whether or not Alabama will choose to pursue it.
The Volunteers might be a relative longshot, but could be an interesting team to keep an eye on. Considering they can offer Gunnell a seemingly easier path to playing time and ultimately, a featured role very early on, that should be something that appeals to him. He visited Knoxville last spring and plans to return this spring with new head coach Jeremy Pruitt now running the show. Pruitt will no doubt be selling the idea that Gunnell is going to be the star in his first full recruiting cycle.