Big 12: Jared Johnson

Big 12 recruiting -- 2012 classes take shape

July, 18, 2011
It's mid-July. The season starts in six weeks and signing day is a little more than six months away. We are now almost halfway through the recruiting season and here's how the Big 12 classes for 2012 look.

We'll try to offer a monthly scoreboard update between now and signing day next February. There's been plenty of shifting and activity since our last update in June.

All numbers are courtesy ESPNU recruiting pages. You can see them by clicking on each team for more on each class. The teams are ranked below.

Very nice showing for the Big 12 so far, with six of the 10 teams in the league ranked in ESPN's top 25 class rankings, including fish-in-barrel shooters Texas, who top the national recruiting rankings.

1. Texas Longhorns
National ranking: No. 1
Total commits: 18
ESPNU 150 commits: 9
Key commits: RB Johnathan Gray, DT Malcom Brown, WR Cayleb Jones, QB Connor Brewer
Personnel notes: Seven of the Longhorns' commits are offensive players, nine are on defense and another is designated as an athlete. Four of the top five commits, however, are skill-position players. Texas also has kicker Nick Jordan (No. 8 nationally) committed.

2. Texas A&M Aggies
National ranking: No. 4
Total commits: 20
ESPNU 150 commits: 3
Key commits: OLB Jordan Richmond, RB Trey Williams, ATH Bralon Addison, ATH Matt Davis
Personnel notes: The Aggies swiped Addison from Oklahoma State and gave themselves four commits that are designated as athletes. Eight of their other commits are on defense, and nine play offense. Quarterback Trevor Knight recently switched to Oklahoma, but Davis is expected to play QB for the Aggies.

3. Oklahoma Sooners
National ranking: No. 12
Total commits: 11
ESPNU 150 commits: 4
Key commits: RB Alex Ross, WR Sterling Shepard, WR Durron Neal, OL Ty Darlington
Personnel notes: The Sooners recently added Knight, a quarterback, but would still love to add receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the nation's No. 1 receiver and No. 3 overall prospect. Oklahoma's class has just two defensive players and one athlete, Daniel Brooks. The other eight commits play offense. The Sooners swiped Neal from Missouri, where the in-state Tigers were hoping to add him to their 2012 fold.

4. Texas Tech Red Raiders
National ranking: No. 14
Total commits: 16
ESPNU 150 commits: 3
Key commits: WR Reginald Davis, WR Dominique Wheeler, OT Michael Starts, OT Christian Okafor
Personnel notes: Wheeler is the class's top commit, but David and Starts are the other two ESPNU 150 prospects. Nine commits play offense, two are athletes and five play defense.

5. Missouri Tigers
National ranking: No. 19
Total commits: 12
ESPNU 150 commits: 1
Key commits: OG Evan Boehm, QB Maty Mauk, OT Germain Ifedi, ILB Donavin Newsom
Personnel notes: The Tigers beat out Oklahoma for in-state prospect Boehm, and would like to do the same with Green-Beckham. But for now, the class includes seven defenders (four linebackers) and five offensive players, with two of the top three commits being offensive linemen. Mauk (No. 14 QB nationally) was a recent addition. Mauk and Boehm allowed the Tigers to jump into the most recent top 25 class rankings and leapfrog Oklahoma State.

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys
National ranking: No. 24
Total commits: 7
ESPNU 150 commits: 1
Key commits: TE Dominic Ramacher, CB Kendall Sanders, OLB Jeremiah Tshimanga, OT Timothy Hines
Personnel notes: OSU has had a rash of decommitments, including two from ESPNU 150 listers Dalton Santos and Bralon Addison. The current class is headlined by Ramacher, one of four offensive players in the class. Two of the three defenders are cornerbacks. OSU also added a quarterback since our last update, 6-foot-4 Wes Lunt of Rochester (Ill.).

7. Baylor Bears
Total commits: 12
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: ATH Corey Coleman, CB Terrell Burt, WR Kiante' Griffin, ATH Terrence Singleton
Personnel notes: The Bears have three athletes in the group, five offensive commits and four defenders, including three defensive backs. Quarterback Jared Johnson was a high-profile recent pickup.

8. Iowa State Cyclones
Total commits: 6
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: WR Quan West, DE Mitchell Meyers, QB Grant Rohach, RB Barkley Hill
Personnel notes: The Cyclones have a second QB in Luke Knott, the younger brother of star linebacker Jake Knott, and four of the six commits are skill position players. The Cyclones also have a pair of defenders, with no offensive linemen currently committed.

9. Kansas State Wildcats
Total commits: 5
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: WR Vernon Vaughn, DT Travis Britz, QB Tay Bender, ILB Will Davis
Personnel notes: The Wildcats have three defensive commits, and both offensive commits are skill position players.

10. Kansas Jayhawks
Total commits: 3
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: CB Daniel Gray, OG Brian Beckmann, ATH Derek Keaton
Personnel notes: Turner Gill set the bar high with his first full class in Lawrence, and will need a late charge to surpass a fantastic effort in 2011 on the recruiting trail.
We'll kick off our look today at the position rankings for each team in the Big 12 before looping back around to rank the top 10 at every position in the Big 12.

We'll start at the most obvious position: Quarterback, a position that I'd argue is more important in the Big 12 than in any other conference.

Depth will be a huge factor in these rankings, though at quarterback, it's the toughest to gauge, considering how little we see of backup quarterbacks.

Here's how each Big 12 team ranks at the quarterback position:

[+] EnlargeLandry Jones
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireLandry Jones leads the Big 12's deepest and best group of quarterbacks.
1. Oklahoma

Oklahoma learned the hard way in 2009 about the importance of the backup quarterback, but even in his limited experience, Drew Allen has impressed Bob Stoops after narrowly losing out on the backup job behind Sam Bradford in 2009. Landry Jones is a great one, and with his opportunities, has become a Heisman Trophy favorite. Could Allen have done the same if he had beaten out Jones in 2009? Blake Bell, the nation's No. 3 quarterback in the 2010 class, will likely be Oklahoma's No. 3 in 2011.

2. Oklahoma State

Brandon Weeden's profile spiked when he led the Cowboys to a comeback win over Colorado on a Thursday night game in 2009. He took over as the starter shortly after, but going into that game Weeden was a third-stringer. Alex Cate transferred after it became evident that Weeden would be the starter in 2010, and behind Weeden is Clint Chelf and two solid recruits: Johnny Deaton and J.W. Walsh, who was the nation's No. 10 QB (just outside the ESPNU 150) in 2011 and enrolled early.

3. Texas A&M

Ryan Tannehill is entrenched at the starting spot, with a lot of youth behind him. Matt Joeckel and Jameill Showers will try to hold off incoming freshman Johnny Manziel for the No. 2 spot this fall. Manziel was impressive during the spring, and will contend for the starting job in 2012, but he'll likely redshirt unless he wins the backup job.

4. Texas Tech

Seth Doege looks ready to grab the reins for two seasons, barring injury. Jacob Karam is probably ready to start in the Big 12 right now, he's just not as good as Doege. Behind them are two promising prospects with upside and development to do: Scotty Young and Michael Brewer. The Red Raiders are the last of the Big 12 teams who have truly solid depth at quarterback.

5. Baylor

Robert Griffin III will probably hold every school record for quarterbacks by the time he leaves Waco, but the Bears need to find a true replacement behind him. Nick Florence filled in well in 2009 when Griffin missed the final nine games with a knee injury, but he's a junior like Griffin and their eligibility will expire simultaneously. Redshirt freshman Bryce Petty and 2012 commit Jared Johnson could battle for the spot in 2013.

6. Missouri

The Tigers depth took a hit after Tyler Gabbert's transfer following spring practice, but expectations are high for sophomore James Franklin, who got a bit of experience in 2010 behind Blaine Gabbert. Senior Jimmy Costello quit the team after last season to focus on an impending fall enlistment in the Army, but rejoined after the Gabbert brothers' departures from Columbia. He's likely to be the backup, with Ashton Glaser and walk-on Ryan Howerton filling out the rest of the quarterback spots. Corbin Berkstresser, a 6-foot-3, 218-pound quarterback from Kansas City that ESPN ranked No. 43 at his position, will arrive in the fall, too.

7. Texas

How long until we see a quarterback make the kind of plays Garrett Gilbert made against Alabama in the national championship? Those kinds of long scores were rare last year, but the Longhorns will have a competition this fall that sounds like it's pretty open heading into camp. If Gilbert wins, he'll likely have a much shorter leash in 2011 than he did in 2010, before Case McCoy or Connor Wood gets a crack, and dark horse true freshman David Ash could make things interesting, too.

8. Kansas State

Collin Klein made a nice move toward winning the job with a strong spring game performance. But coach Bill Snyder says he still didn't see a ton of separation between Klein and his backups, Sammuel Lamur and Boston College transfer Justin Tuggle, who spent last year replacing Cam Newton at Blinn College in Texas.

9. Iowa State

James Capello transferred after the spring, but Iowa State's race has likely boiled down to two men: Jerome Tiller and Steele Jantz. Jantz, a juco transfer, is the wild card and Tiller will need to show that his struggles in spot duty last season were temporary. He didn't show the progress you'd expect from a maturing player when he played for an injured Austen Arnaud in a few games early and late in 2010. Jared Barnett is still battling in Ames, but him winning the job would be a huge upset.

10. Kansas

The Jayhawks could use a couple more years of Todd Reesing. The Jayhawks saw a huge drop off at the quarterback position in 2010, as Jordan Webb, Quinn Mecham and Kale Pick all got time under center. Kansas will likely run its offense through a strong group of running backs, but unless newcomer Brock Berglund shows potential and proves he's the best of the group, expect Kansas to remain near the bottom of the Big 12 by the end of 2011.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III still has two years of eligibility, but perhaps no player in college football has helped precipitate a program's rise the way Griffin has.

So, the question is obvious, even though Art Briles has helped build a deeper and better Bears team in his brief three seasons in Waco: What happens when Griffin leaves?

We won't know for sure until he actually does, but Briles got a big commitment on Wednesday from Jared Johnson, a quarterback from Grand Prairie, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. And who did Johnson pick the Bears over?

Oregon and Pittsburgh, to name a few.

"A lot of colleges only take one QB in a recruiting class, so it does put slight pressure to make a decision," Johnson told Sporting News. "I loved the vibe of the coaches and their coaching style and I loved the university and all it has to offer. ... College coaches like my style of play because I have grown as a passer as I’ve matured, and I can make all the throws, but I'm also a good athlete that will make plays when things break down."

Johnson, a 6-foot, 195-pounder, sounds like a perfect fit for Baylor's offense, which requires a mobile quarterback like Griffin to operate the way Briles wants it to. If Griffin stays four years and Johnson sticks with Baylor through February, he'll have a year to sit and learn from one of the most experienced QBs the Big 12 has ever seen, and compete for the job in the 2013 season.

Here's our scouts' take on Johnson:
"If Johnson was taller he would be a high profile BCS level recruit. However, his height is limiting his recruitment, but that does not negate the fact that Johnson can really sling it. He has good bulk and a very live arm. His release is so smooth and consistent and he is capable of making every throw on the field when his feet are set. He is a pocket passer first. He possesses very good arm strength. Shows great zip on the deep out route. Shows touch and timing as a vertical passer. Can drive the ball downfield and will fit it into tight spots. Has a quick release and shows the ability to get rid of the ball in a hurry. He shows good overall accuracy. Displays nice RPMs on intermediate routes. Works primarily from the shotgun and wastes little time getting set, working through progressions and getting the ball out. He is a good athlete, but a passer first. Can and will run, can keep plays alive and throws very well on the move and when off balance. Has the arm to make deep downfield throws on the move and across his frame. Makes a lot of plays on his own with his feet and is a threat to run."

It's pretty obvious why Briles wanted him. That sounds like a young Griffin III to me. Johnson, ranked by ESPN as the nation's No. 68 quarterback, gives the Bears another addition to a solid recruiting class.

He's the 10th player in the 2012 class to commit to the Bears.

Last year, as a junior at South Grand Prairie High, Johnson passed for 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns, and added 579 yards and seven scores on the ground.

On a final note, considering how many times Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson was called "Jared," it'll be nice to finally have someone in the Big 12 who fits the moniker.