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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
ESPN 300: Top Big 12 targets

By Damon Sayles

The spring evaluation period is upon us, and coaches are traveling and hosting spring games in an effort to evaluate and attract the nation’s elite prospects. Fortunately for coaches, roughly two-thirds of the players making up the 2015 ESPN 300 are still uncommitted. A large majority of those players are considering playing in the Big 12.

Here are five ESPN 300 players heavily targeted by Big 12 schools:

OG Jalin Barnett
6-foot-4, 315 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 36

Barnett has a host of offers, but the big question involves whether or not the Lawton, Okla., offensive lineman will stay in-state. Offers from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are very intriguing, and he was in attendance for Oklahoma’s spring game on April 12. The Sooners are considered a strong favorite in the recruiting race, but Texas Tech also has offered and, with an energetic group of coaches, could be a program that wins over Barnett. SEC powers Alabama and Auburn also are teams to watch.

CB Kendall Sheffield
5-foot-11, 180 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 12

Many feel Sheffield is Texas A&M’s to lose, but don’t be surprised if a Big 12 school ends up the winner of the Sheffield sweepstakes. Sheffield admits he’s a fan of the Aggies, but he also likes his offers from Texas and Baylor. It’s still very early in the game, and Sheffield isn’t showing his cards. Sheffield, who has earned an invitation to The Opening, also has intriguing offers from Florida State, Oregon and Alabama. Look for Sheffield to keep his recruiting close to the vest.

WR Tyron Johnson
6-foot-1, 185 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 26

Will Johnson continue a recent trend of Louisiana athletes leaving the state, or will he find a home at LSU come February? The Tigers might be a favorite for the New Orleans receiver, but Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech should be considered dark horses, as he likes all four. Johnson has earned an invitation to The Opening, and wherever he ends up, he could make an immediate impact. Clemson and Auburn also are programs to keep an eye on, in case LSU falls out of the mix.

OLB Malik Jefferson
6-foot-2, 220 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 38

Jefferson’s process will be fun to watch. Texas fans believe the Longhorns are the favorite. Texas A&M fans believe the Aggies are the favorite. Baylor fans believe Jefferson will surprise all and choose the Bears. And then there are the out-of-state schools, like Alabama and Ohio State, which feel they are very much in the running. With Jefferson expecting to graduate early, a decision could come in November or December, if not sooner.

WR DaMarkus Lodge
6-foot-2, 185 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 63

Lodge, a week before the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp, denied having a reported top three of LSU, Clemson and Ole Miss, and added that he’s still wide-open with recruiting. Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas and TCU all are potential landing spots for the Cedar Hill, Texas, product. He also likes multiple out-of-state schools, including Florida, LSU, Clemson, Texas A&M and Oregon. Lodge grew up in Jackson, Miss., and Ole Miss is a school of interest, as well. Can the Big 12 keep one of the nation’s elite receivers in-state?