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Beal, Hunter among overshadowed Big 12 standouts

2/18/2015

The Ultimate 300 is full of playersInsider who changed programs or sparked a dominant run during their time in the Big 12. Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford put up video game numbers at Oklahoma, Robert Griffin helped change the future of Baylor and the rest of the conference and Dez Bryant made the impossible look possible during his time at Oklahoma State.

Yet those guys overshowed other players who made major contributions during their college careers. Here's a look at five Big 12 players who saw their contributions get overlooked due to the excellence of Ultimate 300 members who signed in the same recruiting class.

Jeremy Beal, defensive end, Oklahoma: As the No. 137 player in the ESPN 150 for the Class of 2006, Beal was a highly regarded recruit when he signed with Bob Stoops program. He just happened to sign with the Sooners at the same time as five members of the Ultimate 300 which included a future Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick (Sam Bradford) along with four future Pro Bowlers (Trent Williams, Gerald McCoy, Jermaine Gresham, DeMarco Murray). Beal sits second on the Sooners all-time sack list (29) after a stellar career in crimson and cream. He had 224 tackles and 58.5 tackles for loss in 54 career games (43 starts).

Terrance Williams, receiver, Baylor: A member of Art Briles' first recruiting class, Williams signed alongside Ultimate 300 members Griffin and Kendall Wright. He had a scout’s grade of 74 as one of the unheralded recruits in BU’s Class of 2008. As multi-sport star in high school, Williams turned his potential into production in Waco, Texas. He finished his career with 202 receptions for 3,334 yards and 27 touchdowns.

"Terrance is another big, strong receiver who is a great kid with great instincts,” Briles said when Williams signed. “He has a good, tough mind. We believe he has a great upside and will really flourish once he has the opportunity to specialize."

Dominic Espinosa, center, Texas: A member of a 2010 recruiting class that featured Ultimate 300 members in Jordan Hicks, Jackson Jeffcoat and Mike Davis, Espinosa made a huge impact on the Longhorns program. UT really saw just how important Espinosa was in 2014 after his ankle injury in the season opener set the Longhorns offense back for weeks. He started 40 straight games before the injury ended his senior season before it really got started.

Kendall Hunter, running back, Oklahoma State: Mike Gundy’s fortunes changed when he signed the Cowboys’ Class of 2007 and it wasn’t just inking Ultimate 300 member and future Pro Bowler Bryant. Hunter combined with Bryant to give the Cowboys one of the best running back-receiver duos in the Big 12 as they helped spark OSU’s rise up the standings. Hunter became an All-American while rushing for 4,135 yards and 37 touchdowns during his four seasons in Stillwater.

Darwin Cook, safety, West Virginia: Cook signed with a trio of Ultimate 300 members and future NFL draft picks when he became a Mountaineer alongside Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin. Cook had at least 69 tackles for three straight seasons from 2011 through 2013. He was a three-year starter and key contributor to the Mountaineers defense during his four years in Morgantown, West Virginia.