Texas A&M makes a great 11th hour hire

Few football coaches have had a rougher go of it the past nine months than Steve Kragthorpe has. Last November he was pink slipped by Louisville after posting a 15-21 record in three rocky seasons at the school.

He jumped back into the ring in January when he accepted the wide receivers coaching position under Mike Sherman at Texas A&M. But he'll never get the opportunity to coach in a single game at the school.

Kragthorpe resigned last week, citing medical issues he needed to tend to, which involved his wife. She's back in Tulsa, where Kragthorpe had coached before taking the Louisville job.

Sherman and the rest of Aggie Nation were understanding and extremely sympathetic to the Kragthorpes' plight. Hey, life trumps football and the guy's gotta do what the guy's gotta do.

But back in College Station, with fall drills about to commence, the football program was still without a receivers coach. And finding a decent replacement in late July appeared to be a pretty daunting task.

That is until Sherman made about as good an 11th hour move as you'll ever see, hiring Indiana State offensive coordinator Troy Walters to fill the vacancy.

It was only 11 years ago that Walters won the Biletnikoff Award following an outstanding senior season at Stanford. After spending eight years in the NFL, he jumped straight into the coaching ranks at Indiana State.

At only 33 years of age, Walters becomes a fascinating recruiting tool for Texas A&M. How many BCS conference teams can boast an assistant coach who's only a couple of seasons removed from his NFL career?

A lot of coaches can tell a recruit they can help him get into the league. But Walters is a guy who can give practical, timely advice on how to get drafted and make it stick. What recruit wouldn't listen to that kind of pitch?

But it gets better for Sherman. Walters played his high school ball at A&M Consolidated High School in College Station. That's right, he's already familiar with the area.

Not only can Walters slide right in and take over the Brazos Valley region that was Kragthorpe's designated recruiting area, but he can also be utilized in Houston as well.

And arguably the best part of the deal for Sherman is something I alluded to already: Walters is a Stanford grad. That means he's not just smart, he's downright cerebral.

In terms of things on the actual field of play, a wide receivers coach couldn't be walking into a better situation. In case you didn't notice, Texas A&M was the nation's fifth most productive offense last season in terms of yardage (465.8 ypg) and 16th nationally in passing offense (281.6).

Walters's first pupil of note will be junior Jeff Fuller, the physically imposing wide receiver who looks poised for a breakout season. Last year he torched Texas for 132 yards on six catches, three of which went for touchdowns.

In his quest to bring A&M back to respectability, Sherman appears to have the offensive side of things figured out (the defense is a whole other matter). But with Walters in the fold, look for the Aggies to be even more polished in the passing game this season.