Big 12: 2011 signing day wrap

Baylor recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
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BAYLOR BEARS

The class

Signees: 19 (five enrolled early, four junior college)

Top prospects: The Bears got a big-time offensive tackle in Spencer Drango, the nation's No. 14 prospect at the position. Trevor Clemons-Valdez (No. 32 defensive tackle) and Johnathan Lee (No. 48 receiver) are two other highly-rated prospects in the class. Suleiman Masumbuko and Beau Blackshear add more talent on the front line of the defense.

Needs met: Baylor is set for 2011 at the skill positions; they have elite Big 12 talent at quarterback and receiver, and some talent with potential at running back. Where they needed help is on the offensive line and everywhere on defense, excluding the secondary, where they stocked up on talent in their 2010 class. The Bears got exactly what they needed. It's not a balanced class, but that's not what Art Briles wanted. He wanted big bodies up front, and nine of his 19 signees are offensive or defensive linemen. Defensive tackle Phil Taylor and offensive tackle Danny Watkins will be making big money in the NFL next year, and they need to be replaced. The Bears have done that. Jay Finley is gone, and Baylor signed three running backs in this class with a chance to replace him in 2011.

Analysis: Baylor's location in central Texas helps so, so much in recruiting. The Bears can get in on a lot of talent that's overlooked by other programs, they don't have to worry about distance (18 of the 19 commits are from Texas) and have been able to grab an elite, top-tier recruit in recent years. Last year, it was Ahmad Dixon, a safety who was the nation's No. 15 overall prospect. Darius Jones, an ESPNU 150 prospect, signed in 2009. Kendall Wright has become one of the league's best receivers as the No. 112 overall prospect in 2008. This year, they don't have an elite prospect, but they've got a lot of quality talents to help fill what Baylor needs. They lost offensive tackle Nila Kneubuhl on signing day after the offensive tackle had been committed to the Bears for nearly a year, which has to be frustrating for Briles, but it's not a huge blow. New defensive coordinator Phil Bennett has been on the job less than a month. He'll have 11 new players with two possible ones at athlete, compared to just six offensive prospects. The class ranks eighth in the Big 12, but it's an acceptable group for the Bears, who have a lot of established talent already on campus.

ESPN recruiting grade: C-plus

Iowa State recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
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IOWA STATE CYCLONES

The class

Signees: 22 (four junior college, four enrolled early)

Top prospects: The Cyclones' top signee is running back DeVondrick Nealy, and they added another back in Rob Standard. Both are among the nation's top 75 running backs. Tad Ecby is the nation's No. 83 receiver, and Quenton Bundrage and Ted Lampkin will also catch passes for Paul Rhoads. Sam Richardson is the nation's No. 53 quarterback and Jamison Lalk is the nation's No. 104 offensive tackle.

Needs met: Rhoads did this well, adding three receivers among his highest-rated recruits to boost a position that in 2010, was probably one of the Big 12's worst. And Sedrick Johnson, tight end Collin Franklin and Jake Williams are all leaving Ames. Jared Brackens and Sam Richardson should also help a secondary that loses both starting safeties and the top reserve at safety.

Analysis: Iowa State is not a team that's going to go toe-to-toe with Texas and get ready-made talents that can be impact players in the Big 12 immediately. Winning in Ames is about getting guys in the right positions to succeed and developing the talent you can get. Iowa isn't a deep state in terms of talent, and the Cyclones already have to deal with big brother in Iowa City scooping up the state's top talent. As a result, you see five players from Texas, five from California, and four from Florida to compliment the five from Iowa. Iowa State got some talent where they need bodies, and developing that talent will be crucial to continuing what Rhoads has built so far in two seasons with the Cyclones. Their class ranks last in the Big 12, but the Cyclones deal with disadvantages not many others in the Big 12 have to contend with.

ESPN recruiting grade: C-minus

Kansas recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
12:30
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KANSAS JAYHAWKS

The class

Signees: 27 (one junior college, three enrolled early)

Top prospects: Kansas got one of the top players in Kansas City, running back Darrian Miller, who ranks as the nation's No. 18 running back. It also got the top player in Colorado, quarterback Brock Berglund. Anthony Pierson also signed with Turner Gill as a shifty back that ranks 28th nationally at his position. Marquis Jackson and JaCorey Shepherd join the class to add a couple high-level receivers, too.

Needs met: Turner Gill wanted speed? He's getting it. Kansas' top five recruits all can move and all five are skill-position players. Berglund should have a shot to compete for the starting job, and Miller and Pierson should help James Sims at running back. Best of all, both Miller and Berglund, the Jayhawks' top two signees, enrolled early and will be ready for spring practice. Kansas clearly needed help at receiver, too, and Jackson and Shepherd will have a chance to provide it. Skill position players are the life blood of offenses in the Big 12, and Gill may have a handful of good ones in this class.

Analysis: Gill has emphasized recruiting since he stepped on campus, and we've written about it here plenty. The emphasis is paying off. This is a great, great start for a class that ranks fifth in the Big 12. Kansas is coming off a 3-9 season and really struggled to have any big playmakers offensively. If these new guys can help provide that, you'll see some rapid improvement at Kansas. Even better, Kansas had 27 signees and all but one was ranked at his position. Gill's persona translates very well to the recruiting trail, and it was a big selling point that helped him get his first BCS job at Kansas. If he can recruit this well coming off a 3-9 season, it could get a lot better fast when he gets the Jayhawks into a bowl game.

ESPN recruiting grade: B-minus

Kansas State recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
12:00
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KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

The class

Signees: 32 (13 enrolled early, eight junior college, three transfers)

Top prospects: Kansas State's highest-rated recruit is four-star defensive end Ian Seau, the nephew of NFL star Junior Seau and the nation's No. 18 defensive end, but he won't be the one K-State fans are most excited to see next year. That title goes to the pair of brothers who transferred to Manhattan after stops at Miami and Tennessee as one of the nation's top linebackers and running backs. Arthur Brown and Bryce Brown, Wichita natives, are part of the hefty class. Defensive tackles Sam Harvill and Lamonte Clark hope to offer help up front with defensive end Hunter Davis and outside linebacker Mike Moore.

Needs met: Kansas State wanted help at defensive tackle, and certainly got it with two of their top recruits occupying the spot at the teeth of the defense. Clark weighs in at an impressive 310 pounds, and if he can become a contributor, he'll be a rare 300-pounder in the Big 12. Additionally, the Wildcats may have their new starting quarterback in this class, juco transfer Justin Tuggle. He's the man who replaced Cam Newton at Blinn College in Texas, and with Collin Klein reportedly moving back to wide receiver, don't be surprised if he's K-State's starter next fall.

Analysis: In most spots, the Brown brothers won't be factored into recruiting rankings, but they could have a big say in how successful the Wildcats are in 2011. Daniel Thomas is gone, and if Bryce Brown can tap into the potential that made him the nation's top running back recruit in his 2009 class and get rid of whatever kept him off the field at Tennessee, he'd make a lot of Kansas State fans happy. The same goes for Arthur Brown at linebacker. Their 32 commits make up the biggest class in the Big 12, and if their juco transfers to contribute immediately, this could end up being a very underrated class, ranking seventh in the Big 12.

ESPN recruiting grade: C-plus

Missouri recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
11:30
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MISSOURI TIGERS

The class

Signees: 17 (three enrolled early)

Top prospects: Junior college transfer Sheldon Richardson is a defensive tackle and former Missouri signee out of high school who ranks as the nation's No. 3 juco prospect. Shane Ray (No. 35 DE) and Gerrand Johnson (No. 58 DT) also give the Tigers some strength on the defensive line at the top of its recruiting class. Quarterback Corbin Berkstresser (No. 43 nationally) could also have a future at the helm of the Tigers' offense. Michael Boddie and Taylor Chappell give the Tigers a pair of tackles to develop for the future.

Needs met: Missouri got some help at receiver with Wesley Leftwich and Brandon Hannah, but the deep threat its offense needs might already be on campus. Three starting defensive backs graduated, but the Tigers signed four DBs in their 2011 class. The problem is only Cortland Browning (No. 82 CB) is ranked by ESPNU. Fellow corner David Johnson, and safeties Earnest Payton and Ian Simon are also coming to Missouri, but the Tigers will have to hope there are hidden gems among the unheralded group.

Analysis: You'll hear the standard recruiting cliches from Missouri about this class, but the truth is it's pretty underwhelming considering the success the Tigers have had in recent years on the field. Also true? You can't fully judge a class until it takes the field for a couple years. That said, Missouri didn't sign a single four-star high-school prospect in the class. Even if Richardson blossoms into a star, he sounds like a player intent on playing major college football for just one season before a jump to the NFL. The Tigers have proven they're one of the best programs in the Big 12 at developing talent once it arrives in Columbia, so maybe this class could surprise in a few years, but the expectations from this group will be low next season. ESPN ranks the Tigers' class as ninth in the Big 12, ahead of only Iowa State, and that's not very good for a program that's been on the rise the past six years or so under Gary Pinkel.

ESPN recruiting grade: C

Oklahoma recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
11:00
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OKLAHOMA SOONERS

The class

Signees: 17 (three enrolled early)

Top prospects: Receiver Trey Metoyer and running back Brandon Williams are ESPNU 150 members among the best at their positions. Both could contribute early at Oklahoma. Jordan Phillips, Jordan Wade and Nathan Hughes add three more ESPNU 150 signees and a great haul of prospects on the defensive line. Danzel Williams is an athlete that Oklahoma plans to use at running back and gives the Sooners six ESPNU 150 prospects, second-most in the Big 12 behind Texas.

Needs met: Coach Bob Stoops said it in his press conference on Wednesday, and he's right: Oklahoma wasn't depleted anywhere, and didn't have any real pressing needs. As a result, you get a very balanced, but typically strong class from the Sooners. Oklahoma's 2010 class was one of its best ever, and you never know how one will look, but none of the current recruits will be counted on for any major contributions in 2011. If they can help somewhere, they'll be welcome to. But it won't be a problem if they need a year or two before they can become high-level Big 12 talents.

Analysis: Coming off a strong freshman class like Oklahoma had in 2010 takes a little pressure off the following year, but the Sooners cashed in another solid class near the top of the national rankings. OU ranks No. 11 overall, and players like Metoyer, Williams and the trio of defensive linemen can make the kind of immediate impact that players like Tony Jefferson had in 2010. The Sooners reign as one of the Big 12's elite teams won't be threatened, and we could see them contend for a national championship again soon after 2011, a year that looks like a promising one in Norman.


ESPN recruiting grade: B-plus

Oklahoma State recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
10:30
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OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

The class

Signees: 28 (four junior college, six enrolled early)

Top prospects: Running back Herschel Sims is the class' only ESPNU 150 commit, but quarterback J.W. Walsh and Sims are both in the top 10 nationally at their respective positions. Known best for offense, Oklahoma State also snagged Josh Stewart and Miketavious Jones, two top 20 cornerbacks, and linebacker Nico Ornelas, the nation's No. 16 outside linebacker.

Needs met: Sims could help contribute immediately at running back alongside rising sophomores Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle to help replace Doak Walker Award finalist Kendall Hunter. Ashaad Mabry and James Castleman will help fill in on the defensive line for the Cowboys, who lost three starters up from from their 2010 team. The Cowboys added four athletes who could be very versatile and Travis Cross and Devin Davis could play in 2012 after the Cowboys lose four starters on the offensive line.

Analysis: Oklahoma State has to feel really good about this class. Skill position talents Walsh and Sims have been longtime commitments and provided very little drama down the stretch. Walsh is already on campus and in classes and could be a factor in replacing Brandon Weeden after 2011. An extra few practices this spring certainly help his chances. The Cowboys' class ranks No. 21 nationally and third in the Big 12, behind just Oklahoma and Texas. That's a good spot for the Cowboys, who proved they can hang with both teams on the field in 2010, and would like to beat both with consistency in the future. Ascending up the recruiting rankings is a good way to do it.

ESPN recruiting grade: B

Texas recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
10:00
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TEXAS LONGHORNS

The class

Signees: 22 (four enrolled early)

Top prospects: Running back Malcolm Brown is the big headliner, the nation's No. 2 running back and No. 7 overall prospect. Cornerback Quandre Diggs gives the Longhorns the nation's top corner and No. 21 overall prospect. Defensive tackle Desmond Jackson and linebacker Steve Edmond are also two of the nation's best at their positions. Josh Turner, Sedrick Flowers and Leroy Scott give the Longhorns seven ESPNU 150 commits.

Needs met: Texas isn't starved for talent at any position. Its biggest problem in 2010 was a lack of talent at the skill positions, so it needs to find some solutions there, be it from talent already on campus or with incoming recruits. Brown gives the Longhorns a running back with their two other backs, Fozzy Whittaker and Cody Johnson, set to be seniors in 2011. Diggs and Scott also give them depth at cornerback, where Aaron Williams, Curtis Brown and Chykie Brown left openings.

Analysis: Part of me feels bad for Malcolm Brown. There might not be another player in the country with more expectations in his first year on campus, and that's not necessarily fair. Brown seems like he's embraced them, and hasn't wavered much since committing to the Longhorns in August. Texas couldn't run the ball in 2010. Brown is expected to help them do it in 2011. I just hope fans realize that offensive lines have just a little bit to do with that, too. The Longhorns did what they usually do, and hauled in the best recruiting class in the Big 12, narrowly beating out Oklahoma. They got a nice balance of offensive and defensive talents, but most other recruits will offer depth early on in their careers. Also, I wouldn't put much stock into Texas' drop from No. 1 to No. 5 nationally in the recruiting rankings. They lost just one recruit (granted, it was their top recruit, offensive tackle Christian Westerman of Arizona, who signed with Auburn) after replacing six assistants and Texas already had 22 commits in late June. The drop was precipitated by SEC teams Alabama and Auburn and USC gaining late signees from uncommitted prospects.

ESPN recruiting grade: A

Texas A&M recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
9:30
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Texas A&M Aggies

The class

Signees: 22 (three from junior college, five enrolled early)

Top prospects: Kicker Taylor Bertolet will likely spend a year behind starter Randy Bullock, and two signing-day steals are at the top of the list of possible future stars in Tim DeRuyter's defense. 6-foot-5, 230-pound Brandon Alexander is the nation's No. 32 defensive end, but the Aggies fully intend on using him as a linebacker. He picked the Aggies over the rival Longhorns the morning of signing day. Cornerback Floyd Raven also picked Texas A&M over Ole Miss on signing day as well, despite a letter of intent mixup.

Needs met: Bertolet answers a big need for the Aggies in 2012, as the nation's No. 2 kicker. Don't be surprised if Alexander gets some early playing time to help replace Von Miller and Michael Hodges, two of the team's top defenders and linebackers who exhausted their eligibility after the 2010 season. Shaun Ward, a Florida native, is also a top linebacking prospect who could help early.

Analysis: Texas A&M had to make a late push for what looked like a mediocre class early on. In early July, the Aggies had just seven commits (10th in the Big 12) and its best prospect was the nation's No. 53 athlete, Jonathon Henderson. But Mike Sherman made a late push and signed 10 recruits with the same or better recruiting grade from ESPNU and help give the Aggies a class that ranks in the middle of the Big 12. It's not a class that wows, but it's one that should be able to continue some of the momentum that Texas A&M established in the 2010 season.

ESPN recruiting grade: B-minus

Texas Tech recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
9:00
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Texas Tech Red Raiders

The class

Signees: 27 (four from junior college)

Top prospects: Kenny Williams and Bradley Marquez both ranked among the nation's top 30 running backs and Jace Amaro is one of the nation's top tight ends. Incoming quarterback Michael Brewer was the nation's No. 27 quarterback and could be a factor in the Red Raiders spring quarterback competition.

Needs met: Texas Tech has a lot of depth at running back, but Marquez and Williams could end up being two of the Red Raiders' best backs eventually. The Red Raiders are moving on without running back and longtime starter Baron Batch and also must replace departed receivers Detron Lewis and Lyle Leong. Derek Edwards and LaDarrin Roberts could fill that void in depth behind rising underclassmen, and junior college transfer Marcus Kennard could contribute quickly. Defensive end Cooper Washington switched to the Red Raiders from Oklahoma on signing day and could help provide some elite talent up front to instill the SEC-type defense Tommy Tuberville hopes to bring to Lubbock.

Analysis: Texas Tech is ecstatic with this class, and for good reason. It's one of the best in the Big 12 behind top-tier classes Texas and Oklahoma, and it's one of the best-ranked classes in school history. ESPN ranks it just outside the national top 25, and we could see some elite skill position players emerge from this unit. The big-time defensive signees will be coming in 2012, but for now, offensive coordinator Neal Brown has plenty more young players to help further establish his offense.

ESPN recruiting grade: B-minus

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