Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Wrapping the Big 12's signing day
By David Ubben
After Waco native and ESPN 300 member Andrew Billings chose to sign with Baylor over Texas and TCU on Tuesday, there was little buildup for a dramatic signing day across the Big 12.
That held true when the big day arrived. There wasn't much waffling. There was even less swiping, especially at the top of the Big 12's classes. Committed players signed. If you listen to the coaches across the league (and really, the country) everybody filled needs and everybody loves their class. We'll find out on the field whether or not that's true, but certainly teams across the Big 12 brought in some big talents to help continue the league's tradition.
Oklahoma and Texas were neck-and-neck for the Big 12's top recruiting class, but the Longhorns finished up at No. 15 with their 15-man class, headlined by a really strong set of offensive lineman. The Longhorns' three highest-ranked recruits will help pave the way for what Texas hopes is a powerful, consistent running game. Texas nabbed the nation's No. 1 center in Darius James, the No. 4 offensive tackle in Kent Perkins, and the No. 9 tackle in Jake Raulerson, the 2013 class' first commit.
Oklahoma got a big upgrade in the backfield with the nation's No. 3 running back, Keith Ford from Cypress, Texas. Coach Bob Stoops sounded fired up about the possibility of No. 20 athlete Stanvon Taylor giving the secondary a big boost, and the nation's No. 13 quarterback, Cody Thomas, will head to Norman to give the Sooners some depth. Safety Hatari Byrd (No. 14 S) will try to make an immediate impact for a secondary that loses both safeties, too.
Don't overlook a pair of really, really strong classes from Oklahoma State and Baylor, who both locked in some more reinforcements at the offensive skill positions. Both were inside the top 30 of our recruiting rankings thanks to the Bears grabbing Billings and the nation's No. 3 receiver, Robbie Rhodes, who just about everybody in Texas was after. Coach Art Briles will also tryto groom the nation's No. 5 dual-threat quarterback, Chris Johnson, into the next in a long line of great passers under Briles. This is arguably Briles' best class at Baylor.
Oklahoma State lost out late on receiver Fred Ross, but nabbed two more receivers in Marcell Ateman and Ra'Shaad Samples from the ESPN 300, as well as defensive lineman Vincent Taylor.
West Virginia was the only other school to crack the top 40 from the Big 12, and breathed a sigh of relief after waiting until around 1 p.m. local time before top signee Shelton Gibson, the nation's No. 26 receiver, faxed in his letter of intent. The Mountaineers picked up a lot of defensive help though, by adding linebackers Darrien Howard, a fellow ESPN 300 member, and 230-pounder Al-Rasheed Benton. Safety Malik Greaves (No. 15 at the position) is also on the way.
We'll get to see these guys in action soon enough, but have a look at every class in the Big 12 right here: