Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Questions for signing day: Big 12
By Damon Sayles
The countdown is on.
With signing day less than three months away, many questions are being answered early with Big 12 targets and with players in the Midlands Region. While the list of uncommitted players gets smaller each day, there are still a few players looking to solidify their college futures. Some may decide soon; others will make coaches sweat a little longer.
Here are 10 questions as we inch closer to the big day, Feb. 5.
1. Who will be 11th-hour commits?
ESPN 300 DB Tony Brown is taking his time making his decision.
Don’t be surprised if a couple of players choose to commit either days before signing day or during their respective all-star games in January. ESPN 300 prospects like cornerback Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) and defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) are sold on taking their official visits before making a final decision. All three have discussed possibly announcing their college decisions at their all-star games. Brown and Adams will be play in the Under Armour All-America game on Jan. 2 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Thomas has committed to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 4 in San Antonio.
2. Five conference teams are in the top-40 class rankings. Will a sixth team make it?
Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech shouldn’t have anything to worry about -- unless they end up losing a few commits each before signing day. West Virginia currently has the best opportunity to crack the top 40 if it can land one or two of their highest-targeted players. ESPN 300 athlete Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa) arguably is West Virginia’s primary target, and the top-ranked player in Pennsylvania -- who also is No. 136 in the ESPN 300 -- could give the Mountaineers a significant bump.
3. Will Texas have a new coach in 2014?
If Mack Brown can win out -- and that would include home wins against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech and a huge road win at Baylor -- it would be criminal to not give him at least one more year as head coach of the Longhorns. If he were to win two out of the last three games, Texas would finish 9-3 and still be on tap for a respectable bowl-game appearance. The 1-2 start is long gone, as Texas is riding a six-game winning streak and, perhaps more importantly for the future, has the attention once again of a few big-name 2014 targets. This weekend will be huge, as Brown and Adams are expected to be in Austin on official visits.
4. Will Baylor’s top two commits become Baylor’s top two signees?
The big question among Baylor circles involves whether or not wide receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau) -- two ESPN 300 players who lead Baylor’s 2014 class -- will sign with the Bears in February. Cannon has taken recent official visits to Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas A&M. Hall has an offer from Alabama -- winners of three out of the last four BCS national titles -- that is very intriguing. This could be a case where winning begets loyalty on signing day, and the Bears are one of the hottest teams in the country, undefeated and fighting not only for a Big 12 title but also a BCS national championship game appearance.
5. Who will land Solomon Thomas?
Great question -- one with an answer that can change almost every day. Ask the nation’s No. 31 overall player and the No. 5 defensive end about any school, and he’ll rarely give you a negative comment. We feel Texas and Stanford are the two schools to beat. He’s visited Texas the most out of any other school, and he’s made three unofficial visits to Stanford -- a trip that isn’t cheap to make. Most recently, Thomas watched Baylor beat Oklahoma on television, and he said the Bears were a potential option, despite not originally making his top list. It’ll be interesting to hear his final answer.
6. Will Jamal Adams end up signing with a Big 12 school?
Texas is still an option for the ESPN 300 safety, but he’s repeatedly expressed his interest for the SEC and what it has to offer. Adams has Texas, Florida, Texas A&M, LSU and Ole Miss high on his list, as well as Big Ten power Ohio State. Adams has an official visit to Texas set up this weekend, but it’s still up in the air if he makes the trip to Austin -- not because of lack of interest but because his high school team begins playoffs this weekend.
The Cyclones have 15 commits, and Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale) was the first of the 2014 recruiting class to give Paul Rhoads his verbal pledge. Lazard has been solid with his choice since committing on Dec. 3, 2012, but his first official visit was taken to Notre Dame the weekend of Oct. 18. Lazard really liked the visit and has said the Irish are high on his list. Will Lazard stay with Iowa State, which is roughly 40 miles away from his home, or will he choose Notre Dame, nearly seven hours away but also with more of the established football reputation?
8. Oklahoma needs defensive linemen. Will it get them?
The clock is ticking on the Sooners, and the window of opportunity to land big-time defensive linemen is closing as the days go by. Oklahoma is known for starting slow and finishing strong in recruiting, and while they have 16 commits, the Sooners only have one defensive linemen committed in three-star tackle Brandon Glenn (Irving, Texas/Ranchview). Solomon Thomas, three-star end Trey Carter (Dallas/Pinkston) and ESPN tackles Ainuu Taua (Lompoc, Calif./Lompoc) and Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central East) are still options.
Of all the ESPN 300 players, Smith (Olathe, Kan./Olathe South) may be the biggest enigma. Reason being: The 6-foot-6, 285-pound offensive lineman has been very stoic not only with where he’s leaning but also with recruiting as a whole. Smith has TCU, Oklahoma, Alabama, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Ohio State high on his list, but he’s yet to set up any official visits. Olathe South’s season is over, so look for Smith to begin narrowing down his choices. Don’t be surprised if he chooses TCU, as his older sister Megan is a thrower for the Horned Frogs’ track and field squad.
10. Any bold signing day shockers to watch for?
Consider this a very bold prediction, but Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westside) will not sign with an in-state school. Although he has offers from Texas A&M and Houston and interest from Texas, TCU and Texas Tech, Iheanacho will decide out of Arkansas, LSU, Florida State or Ole Miss. At 6-7 and 220 pounds, Iheanacho could really be a gem in the SEC, as coaches love his size and the potential that he brings as a converted basketball standout.