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Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Big 12 2014 recruiting scenarios

By William Wilkerson

Even for schools like Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas, who all have recruiting classes ranked in the top 40, there is still a lot of work to be done for the Class of 2014. Here is a look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for every school in the Big 12.

Best-case scenario: The Bears continue to put up gaudy numbers on offense, which allows them to round out one of their best-ever classes with a few more gems. One recruit they would love to add is Randall Cunningham II (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman). On defense, one of Baylor’s top targets is ESPN 300 cornerback Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne). Texas struggling this season sure does help BU's recruiting.

Worst-case scenario: Baylor is in a very  good position right now. And there really isn’t much that could derail this momentum. One thing to keep an eye on is its rival from Austin. If Texas continues to struggle and a coaching change is needed, Art Briles will get a long look by UT and could bolt for greener (see: money) pastures. Should that happen, the Bears could be in big trouble.

Iowa State
Best-case scenario: The Cyclones acquire some more weapons to make ESPN 300 wide receiver Allen Lazard’s decision to stay committed a lot easier. Lazard (Urbandale, IA/Urbandale) has been committed since Dec. 3, 2012. Adding some more beef on the defensive side of the ball would help, too. The Cyclones don’t have a single defensive lineman committed right now.

Worst-case scenario: Lazard looks at his other offers and decides to go to a more prestigious program. Notre Dame and Stanford will continue to come after him, as will Nebraska. Hanging on to Lazard and adding weapons around him is a top priority, but adding pieces to defense is as well.

Best-case scenario: Kansas is going to have to start putting a better product on the field if it expects to addcommitments from its top or even second-tier targets. If it does, maybe the Jayhawks get a second look from guys like three-star linebacker Henry McGrew (Stilwell, KS/Blue Valley), an Illinois commit with a KU offer, or three-star running back Cedric Dale (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), who is committed to BYU.

Worst-case scenario: Let’s face it: Kansas is struggling and it doesn’t look like it will take a turn for the better anytime soon. Will the Jayhawks be able to hang on to the two ESPN 300 prospects they have committed right now in linebacker Kyron Watson (East Saint Louis, IL/East Saint Louis) and center Jacob Bragg (Nacogdoches, Texas/Nacogdoches)? They’d better hope so or the outlook of this class will be bleak, at best.

Kansas State
Best-case scenario: Bill Snyder continues to work his magic in the junior college ranks and has been able to add recruits like highly-touted linebacker Errol Clarke (Garden City, KS/Garden City) to commit. Clarke’s teammate, OLB D’Vonta Derricott, is already committed to the Wildcats. He’s the only juco player committed right now. That will change. KSU is still very much in the mix for three-star wide receiver Emanuel Beal (Powder Springs, GA/Hillgrove).

Worst-case scenario: Kansas State struggles and isn’t able to tap into the juco ranks like in years past. Also, retaining the verbal pledge of OLB Sam Sizelove (Argyle, Texas/Argyle) will be important too. His teammate Connor Wilson decommitted from KSU last month to join their teammate Ian Sadler at Texas Tech.

Best-case scenario: The Sooners win nation-wide battles for ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif/Freedom) and ESPN 300 safety Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks). They are the top two names on Oklahoma’s board. Continuing to polish off its defensive class would be at the top of its list too. Recruits like defensive end Justin Hollins (Arlington, Texas/Martin), defensive tackle Cedric Johnson (Rowlett, Texas/Rowlett), Los Angeles Salesian teammates and Arizona linebacker commits Jamardre Cobb and Marquis Ware -- both ESPN 300 members -- are still very much possibilities.

Worst-case scenario: Parker not only doesn’t end up at Oklahoma but goes to Oklahoma State instead. Losing out on Mixon would be a big blow too. He’s slightly more of a long shot than Parker, but still is highly considering OU. If the Sooners lost out on him and then also Nathan Starks (Englewood, CO/Cherry Creek), who has long been a Sooners fan, you’d have to consider it a failure even though they already have a commitment from ESPN 300 RB Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson).

Oklahoma State
Best-case scenario: The Pokes are in great shape in 2014. They’ve built one of their best classes in a while and a very well rounded one at that. The pieces they’ve acquired on defense are fantastic. Just rounding their class out with a few capable pieces is all this class needs. OSU is still very much in the mix for Parker. Bedlam could be the game-changer for him.

Worst-case scenario: At least on the surface, Sports Illustrated’s special report on misconduct in the football program doesn’t seem to be having that big of an impact on OSU’s commitments. But will that remain the case moving forward? Also, not getting Parker would hurt but it could be crushing if he went to OU.

Best-case scenario: The Horned Frogs do as they are expected and land ESPN 300 offensive lineman Braden Smith (Olathe, KS/South). Smith, the No. 7 offensive guard, has had TCU at the top of his list for several months. He could join his sister, who is on the Horned Frogs’ track and field team. TCU is in much more of a fight for the state of Texas’ top player, defensive end Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/Martin), who is thought to be considering the Frogs and Texas A&M. Also adding three-star safety John Plattenburg (Houston/Lamar) or ESPN 300 safety Laurence Jones (Monroe, LA/Neville) would be huge, or three-star receiver Quinton Flowers (Miami/Jackson), who has mentioned TCU in his top 5.

Worst-case scenario: Somehow the Frogs miss out on Smith, who could start Day 1 and solidify a pipeline for years to come into the heart of Kansas.

Best-case scenario: ESPN 300 safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) is sold on the Longhorns during his expected official visit to Texas for its game against Oklahoma State on Nov. 16, and decides to commit. The Longhorns aren’t in desperate need of a safety with two committed in 2014, but a playmaker like Adams could make a huge difference not only on the field but toward picking up/keeping other recruits. Hanging on to its current crop of commitments is paramount too. So far no commitments have hinted at decommitting, but that could change if the Longhorns don’t have success on the field. Landing ESPN 300 DE Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell), ESPN 300 safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie), ESPN cornerback Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne) or DT Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) would be huge as well.

Worst-case scenario: The Longhorns don’t garner commitments from their top targets and lose commitments due to lack of success on the field. The Longhorns still have so much ahead of them this season. A lot of time to do good but a lot of time for things to take a huge plunge. If the latter happens there could be trouble ahead. Winning cures all.

Texas Tech
Best-case scenario: Texas Tech continues to do what it’s done in Kliff Kingsbury’s first season as head coach: Win, win impressively and do so with alternate uniforms that seem to really be drawing interest from recruits. This class has everything offensively but getting someone like four-star RB Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter) to pair with four-star RB Justin Stockton (Cibolo, Texas/Steele) would be huge.

Worst-case scenario: The Red Raiders don’t land any of the following: DE Silvester Hayes (Dallas, Texas/South Oak Cliff), DE Anthony Olobia (Yuma, AZ/Yuma), DE Junior Onyenah (Grapevine, Texas/Grapevine), DE Randy Anyanwu (Hampton, GA/Lovejoy) or Dylan Douglass (Canyon, Texas/Canyon).

West Virginia
Best-case scenario: The Mountaineers only have 14 commitments but they are 14 important commitments that fill needs for Dana Holgorsen’s bunch. They are still very much in the picture for some big names, including ESPN 300 athlete Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, PA/Aliquippa), ESPN 300 running back Donte Thomas-Williams (Durham, NC/Hillside), linebacker Jakevin Jackson (Milledgeville, GA/Milledgeville) and linebacker Edward Muldrow (Snellville, GA/South Gwinnett). Getting any of those recruits, especially either of the first two, would be huge.

Worst-case scenario: West Virginia misses out on its biggest targets, many of which are listed above. The Mountaineers don’t have many opportunities to impress recruits at home with marquee games. They’ve got Texas Tech this weekend and Texas on Nov 9. That’s it. They need wins there to build momentum into the final stretch of this recruiting cycle.