The Texas A&M track and field team didn’t just add the brightest flower from the Garden State by signing multitalented Athing Mu of Trenton, New Jersey.
The Aggies landed the best prospect in the Class of 2020 by milesplit.com.
Monday’s addition of Mu gives A&M arguably its best recruiting class in program history.
“I think from top to bottom, this could be one of the best classes I’ve ever had, [considering] both men and women,” said A&M coach Pat Henry, who won 27 NCAA national titles at LSU and nine more at A&M, adding that he might have had better separate men’s and women’s classes, “but overall, men and women, this might be the best class we’ve ever signed.”
Seven of A&M’s male signees are ranked first or second in their state in their event — or equivalent to that — led by Allon Tatsunami Clay of Japan who runs the 800 (1 minute, 46.59 seconds) and 1,500 meters (3:44.86). Seven of the female signees also are ranked first or second. Jamaica’s Lamara Distin’s best high jump was 6 feet, 1 inch, which would be tops in Texas along with 43-10 1/2 in the triple jump, which also would rank first. Mu has her state’s best times in the 200 (23.63), 400 (51.98), 800 (2:01.17) and 1,500 (4:33.04).
“She’s not a one-event impact person,” Henry said. “She’s a person who can impact in a number of events, and that’s what made her so much different than others.”
Mu announced her intention to sign with A&M while receiving the USA Track & Field’s Athlete of the Year Award at the USA Track & Field’s Night of Legends banquet Saturday night in Reno, Nevada.
“She’s one of the best this country has had in a long time,” Henry said. “Any time you have a 400-meter time that good and an 800-meter time that good and you can run 1,500 meters, that shows her range. She has great range. I think she’s going to be a fantastic 800-meter person, because she has range. She can run fast, and she has some stamina about herself that makes her a pretty unique kind of person.”
Oregon, Penn State, Illinois, Ohio State, Kansas, Tennessee and Arkansas were others Mu considered.
Landing such a high-profile athlete was a daily and weekly commitment that required a lot of effort, Henry said, but he gave kudos to his staff’s tireless work spearheaded by A&M assistant Milton Mallard.
“We had a great in-home visit, and she had a good visit here, and she kind of fell in love with Texas A&M a little bit,” said Henry, adding that the upgraded facilities with the new stadium helped. “But anytime I can get someone on a campus, I have a great shot at getting them.”
Mu will follow in the footsteps of Donavan Frazier and Sammy Watson as recent top-ranked recruits who came to A&M.
“She’s got a character about herself,” Henry said. “You can’t be successful at her disciplines and not have some character, because you just can’t have talent and walk out there and run that fast. She’s a good student, and she’s got good character about herself.”
Mu’s personal best in the 800 is .01 faster than the A&M outdoor school record, the same event the Aggies have won the NCAA championship in the past two seasons — Watson in 2018 and Jazmine Fray last season.
Fray helped the women finish fourth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year, while the men were sixth. The newcomers will allow the Aggies to remain a national title contender.
“We filled some disciplines that we needed to fill, and we got some great talent,” Henry said. “It’s not an ordinary signing class, we really did have a great signing class.”
A&M signed athletes from four countries outside the United States and six states other than Texas.
A&M men’s signees: Carter Bajoit, The Woodlands, high jump; Jonathan Chung, Allen, 5K; Sean Clarke, Longwood, Fla. (Penn transfer), pole vault; Allon Tatsunami Clay, Japan, 800, 1,500; Omajuwa Etiwe, El Paso Franklin, 400; Sam Hankins, Manhattan, Kan., javelin; Ade Mason, London, England (Oklahoma transfer), triple jump; Brandon Miller, St. Louis, 400, 800; Emmanuel Yeboah, Ghana (Western Texas College transfer), 100, 200; Victor Zuniga, San Antonio Johnson, 800, 1,600.
A&M women’s signees: Alicia Burnett, St. Louis, 100, 200; Lamara Distin, Jamaica, high jump, triple jump; Athing Mu, Trenton, N.J., 200, 400, 800, 1,500; Dominique Mustin, Phoenix, Ariz., 400, 800; Madeline Orr, Woodlands College Park, 1,500, 3,000; Laila Owens, Fort Bend Bush, 200, 400; Angellica Street, Columbia Falls, Mont., javelin.