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Isaiah Golden, East Texas’ Top Football Recruit, Signs With Texas A&M

Defensive tackle Isaiah Golden (57) celebrates one of Carthage’s nine sacks in a 44-21 win at Nacogdoches in September. Golden signed Wednesday with Texas A&M. (Christopher Vinn,

CARTHAGE — Texas A&M fans, your SEC-caliber defensive lineman is on his way.

Carthage’s Isaiah Golden signed his national letter of intent Wednesday with the Aggies, who he committed to in Jan. 2012. The 6-foot-2 1/2, 315-pound defensive tackle is widely regarded as East Texas’ top recruit in the 2013 class and is No. 1 on the ETSN 25 recruiting rankings.

“It’s a blessing,” said Golden shortly after the conclusion of Carthage’s Wednesday morning signing day ceremony. “I can’t wait to go down there.”

Carthage DT Isaiah Golden. (Christopher Vinn,

Golden will arrive in College Station with high expectations for a rising program that hopes to elevate its defensive line play to the traditional level of SEC West Division foes like Alabama and LSU. Golden, Dallas Kimball tackle Justin Manning, and Lancaster end Daeshon Hall, who all signed with the Aggies on Wednesday, are key pieces in that puzzle.

“Lot of pressure,” Golden said. “It means I’ve gotta go in there and work hard. Just try my best.”

Golden will play the 3-technique defensive tackle spot he played at Carthage, where he spent his senior season after playing for Elysian Fields the first three years of his high school career. Golden said playing in a higher classification and competing at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January helped him understand how much work he must put in to meet the expectations placed on him as an SEC-bound defensive line recruit.

Carthage coach Scott Surratt believes Golden is ready to make the jump to the next level. Surratt has coached many high-major football recruits, including Ryan Mallett (Texas High/Michigan/Arkansas), Nathan Vasher (Texas High/Texas), Dustin Earnest (Texas High/Texas), Dwight Smith (Carthage/TCU), Kendall Thompson (Carthage/Texas), and Edward Pope (Carthage/Texas A&M).

He said Golden is right up there with the best of them.

“It’s gonna be hard to find a 300-pound athlete that moves his feet as well and is as strong as he is, and especially has the quick burst to let him separate and get to a ball carrier or quarterback,” Surratt said. “It’s crazy how quick he can do that.”

Golden was a force in his one season at Carthage. He racked up 76 tackles, 32 for loss, four sacks, and four forced fumbles, finishing second in East Texas in tackles for loss behind North Texas signee Syd Moore of Van.

Golden is the second Carthage player in as many seasons to sign with Texas A&M, following Pope a year ago. Carthage has had at least one Division I FBS signee in five of the six years Surratt has spent with the Bulldogs: linebacker Rodney Chadwick (Baylor) in 2008, Smith in 2009, Thompson and running back Hunter Holland (Air Force) in 2011, Pope and offensive lineman Greg Brantley (Oklahoma State) in 2012, and Golden this year.

A year out, the 2014 Carthage class looks promising with as many as six potential FBS recruits on the offensive side of the ball: quarterback Blake Bogenschutz, running back Tevin Pipkin, receivers Tee Goree and Okeeron Rutherford, and guards Adrian Goodacre and Griffin Bankhead.

But for now, Carthage will enjoy sending its latest FBS recruit to the college level. Golden joked about being ready to get to College Station.

“Without coach Surratt jumping on me, that’s gonna be a good thing,” Golden said and laughed. “I got a little tired of that.”

Texas A&M-bound defensive tackle Isaiah Golden (center, seated) is joined by his family and Carthage coach Scott Surratt during Wednesday’s signing ceremony. (Bud Worley,

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