National Signing Day preview: Big 12
This is part three in a series of conference profiles that looks at some of the current recruits for the respective schools. National Signing Day is Wednesday, February 3. As of now, these are verbal commitments, which are non-binding. The order of the teams reflects the strength of the class based on the points system applied by Rivals.com, which gives a certain amount of points to five-star, four-star, three-star prospects, etc.
Texas: The Longhorns sitting on top of the Big 12 recruiting list shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore — neither should being nearly the best in the country. It’s almost unfair that they were able to snag DE Jackson Jeffcoat and LB Jordan Hicks on Friday, who sit at No. 2 and No. 4 on the ESPNU 150, respectively. Mack Brown made the defensive line a priority, grabbing four-star DTs Taylor Bible and Ashton Dorsey, and added to his secondary by landing CBs Adrian White and Carrington Byndom. WRs Mike Davis and Darius White sit at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, on the ESPNU 150, while ATH Demarco Cobbs can pretty much do anything he wants on a football field. Do not be surprised if the Longhorns are able to add another big recruit to their shopping cart by Wednesday.
Oklahoma: Oklahoma was able to snag ATH Tony Jefferson, an explosive, speedy S/LB who just signed in January. Four-star DL Eric Humphrey and athletic S Quentin Hayes, one of 16 recruits from the state of Texas, should be prolific in coordinator Brent Venables’ defense. WRs Kenny Stills and Sheldon McClain, along with TE Austin Haywood, could be catching lots of passes from dual-threat QB Blake Bell. OU also added depth in the backfield, bringing in four-star RBs Brennan Clay and Roy Finch. Head coach Bob Stoops also has four four-star offensive linemen in the fold.
Texas A&M: Former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman is proving that he can recruit at the college level. But can he elevate the Aggies to serious players in the Big 12 South? It starts with recruiting, and he currently has four ESPNU 150 players in this class. A&M is boasting a high-quality list of recruits, specifically on the offensive line, where OTs Jake Matthews — another son of NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews — and Under Armour All-American Luke Joeckel lead the way. The Aggies are desperate for help at tackle, so don’t be surprised to see the young linemen on the field in 2010. Defensively, A&M landed OLB Corey Nelson, an east-west disruptive force who was recruited by Texas amongst many others, along with ball-hawking DB Toney Hurd Jr.
Missouri: The Tigers love to score points, and the WR trio of Marcus Lucas, Jimmie Hunt and Bud Sasser should help keep the Mizzou offense efficient for years to come. Tyler Gabbert will be joining older brother and starting QB Blaine in Columbia, one of two signal callers in the class along with James Franklin. Both should be able to handle Gary Pinkel’s spread offense. Like A&M, the Tigers landed two OTS, Nick Demien and Mitch Morse. DT Lucas Vincent will help the interior up front after adding some beef to his frame, but Mizzou went light on the defensive line thus far. DT Dominique Jones could have helped but he is on his way to Waco to play for Baylor.
Oklahoma State: While the Cowboys may never live up to the continued preseason hype year in and year out, Mike Gundy has put together a 2010 class that is comprised of quality talent and depth. LB Shaun Lewis joins top-15 ILBs Caleb Lavey and Kris Catlin to anchor what looks to be Gundy’s best defensive class in his regime. Lewis is an instinctive backer who plays beyond his measurables. Top-15 QB Nathan Sorenson could be the Cowboys’ QB in short order, and Calvin Barnett is the best DT in the state of Oklahoma. Three-star prospects are aplenty on OSU’s list, and it’ll be interesting to see if they’re able to land a player or two who can’t make Texas or Oklahoma’s final list.
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers are going back to their roots—building up front on both sides of the ball, which should delight their fans. Nearly half of their verbal commitments are on the lines, highlighted by DTs Chase Rome and Jay Guy, along with the beastly Andrew Rodriguez, an OG who will be loved in Lincoln for his elite run-blocking ability. While the interior lines look to be taken care of in this class, the lack of offensive play-makers could pose a problem. One WR is slated to come into Lincoln, along with three ATHs — two of which are only two-star recruits. Could the Huskers snag a late skill-position commit?
Texas Tech: For all of the negative energy enveloping Lubbock, new head coach Tommy Tuberville may be in midst of delivering a miracle to the Red Raiders. The much talked about 2010 class has not been decimated by the dismissal of Mike Leach, as Under Armour All-American DE Jackson Richards and WR Kadron Boone — one of the top wideouts in Florida who will be good in the open space — have stayed committed to the program. On the offensive side, it doesn’t hurt that new coordinator Neal Brown loves to throw the football, as Leach did. WR Shawn Corker and RB Delans Griffin will be nice gets if they officially sign on, but will they get cold feet thinking about playing for a defensive coach in Tuberville.
Baylor: The Bears need all the good news they can get after suffering through a disastrous season helped by the injury to QB Robert Griffin. Head coach Art Briles definitely has not sat around Waco and moped, however, recruiting talented WRs Antwan Goodley and Eddie Johnson to be targets for his signal caller. I was pleasantly surprised to see Briles go after so much defensive talent this year, bringing in CB Tyler Stephenson and Under Armour All-American DB Prince Kent — two players that will help a porous pass defense. In addition, versatile S Ahmad Dixon gives Briles options in being able to line him up in a variety of ways. A really nice class for the Bears.
Iowa State: Head coach Paul Rhoads has Cyclones fans at least a little excited about the football team. Surprisingly, he was able to get some talent outside of the Midwest, getting Florida’s No. 7-ranked OLB Jeremiah George, a fast defender who should help the revamped defense, and No. 13-ranked RB Shontrelle Johnson. LB Shaban Dika from Texas and OT Bo Graham from Oklahoma are nice out-of-state finds. It will be interesting to see if Rhoads continues to fly under the radar nationally. If so, he may be able to comprise an intriguing 2011 class in a Big 12 North that has some room to move up the standings.
Kansas: How many prospects was new head coach Turner Gill able to retain from Mark Mangino’s commits? While the class isn’t huge, Gill has done a wonderful job of keeping around a solid crop of future Jayhawks. ILB Trayvon Henry was nearly an Oklahoma Sooner, but the run-stopper is coming to Lawrence — and he could see early action on the field next year. WR Ricki Herod Jr. is tall, athletic and a smooth route-runner, while Keeston Terry and Brian Maura are four and three-star receivers, respectively, who should excite Jayhawks fans. DT Jeremiah Edwards leads a nice crop of defensive line recruits, but I wonder if Gill is overlooking the secondary. Perhaps he’s not done yet, but if he is it isn’t too shabby of an initial class.
Colorado: Dan Hawkins’ tenure is truly turning into a disaster in Boulder. Entering his fifth and perhaps final season, Hawkins’ stay at CU has been highlighted by terrible losses and top recruits who have failed to live up to expectations. See RB Darrell Scott, to name just one. The program’s shaky state has led to an unimpressive 2010 class, as the Buffs currently do not even have one four-star recruit. Fans will be happy, however, that Hawkins is bringing in a QB — Nick Hirschman. Though with Hawkins’ track record, is there reason to be excited about a QB? All kidding aside, Hirschman is on campus as an early enrollee, and if he’s able to pick up the offense he may be CU’s best option under center in 2010.
Kansas State: Head coach Bill Snyder is working tirelessly on the juco route, but the Wildcats have 5-9 RB DeMarcus Robinson and DE Adam Davis as four-star commits, with Robinson being compared to former Wildcat and current San Diego Chargers RB Darren Sproles. The Big 12 North can be had with another strong class, so it’ll be interesting to see what the Wildcats do in the next day or two. QB Billy Cosh is a three-star recruit whose father is on the K-State staff.
Follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave