Texas A&M went a little while longer than some of its peers in the class of 2022. However, the Aggies now have a ton of momentum. The newest commit is a four-star, national top-50 defender from the Houston area.
On his 17th birthday Sunday, class of 2022 defensive end Malick Sylla of Katy has made the call to join the Aggie commitment list. He is the first pledge in the class for the Maroon and White. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound junior did not want to wait long after his season was over as it came to end on Saturday with a state championship win over Cedar Hill.
“I’ve known for a long time that it was going to be Texas A&M,” Sylla told GigEm247 ahead of his public announcement. “I’ve just been waiting for the right time and it seemed my birthday was the perfect time to do it. I didn’t want to stretch out the process, since I knew where I was going to go. It’s also cool to be the first one in the class.”
Ranked as the No. 37 overall prospect in the country for the class of 2022 per the industry-generated 247Sports composite, Sylla’s combination of size and athleticism piqued schools’ interest this past spring. He picked up offers from the who’s who of top programs from across the country.
Sylla has long been high on Texas A&M, though. The Aggie staff has compared him to one of the NFL’s top players in former No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett, who also played his college ball in Aggieland.
“One of the big reasons I chose A&M is because of the coaching staff and their history of putting players in the league,” he said. “I know it’s not someone I can just live up to without putting a ton of work in, but they’ve said my skillset is similar to Myles Garrett’s when he was in high school. They think I have a chance to make that kind of impact.
“The SEC also produces a ton of defensive linemen. I’ll have a chance to go up against the best of the best every week.
— malick sylla ???? (@malick_S17) January 18, 2021
Katy tight end Fernando Garza signed with the Aggies in December and was one of A&M’s biggest recruiters for Sylla.
“Fernando, he’s recruiting me really hard,” Sylla told GigEm247 this fall. Now, Sylla will turn into a recruiter himself.
“I’m talking to [four-star cornerback teammate] Bobby Taylor, of course. And then there are a bunch of guys in Houston I’m really working on,” Sylla said. “Some other big ones, I really want Bear Alexander, the DT from Dallas, in the class. I’m going to be talking to him a bunch, too. The same thing with [North Shore five-star cornerback] Denver Harris.”
Sylla is an elite pass rusher with length and quickness. Unfortunately, his junior season came to an earlier than expected end as he suffered an injury during practice for the late playoff rounds. He should be good to go in the spring, though.
247Sports regional analyst Gabe Brooks has the following breakdown of Sylla’s game, comparing him to likely first-round pick Gregory Rousseau of Miami.
“Elite defensive end prospect with terrific height and frame length. Tons of space to add mass. Could grow into true strong-side end or limit bulking somewhat to remain a weak-side/hybrid edge player. Ample snaps in odd-front end role and plays engaged vs. the run. Plays hard and makes plays in the trenches vs. heavier foes. Frame and awareness allow for consistent passing-lane disruption.
Pass-rushing ceiling is very high. Dangerous when isolated on the outside. Dips well relative to height/length and runs the arc naturally. Suffered a season-ending lower-limb injury to miss final three games of junior season. Still expanding move set and pass-rush nuance. Get-off consistency can still improve. Naturally high pad level sometimes affects leverage. One of the nation’s top defensive end prospects in the 2022 class. Should become impact high-major defender with long-term early-round NFL Draft potential.“