Big 12: Polo Manukainiu

The 2012 Big 12 Recruiting All-Name Team

February, 6, 2012
2/06/12
9:00
AM ET
Readers of this blog know how much I love names.

Whether it be my most lamented transfer of the 2011 season or guys, judging by their names, born to play the game, I love it.

As such, we celebrate these on the blog often. And with another recruiting season come and gone, it's time to give a little attention to the best new names in the Big 12.

Here's last year's team.

We're including Texas A&M, Mizzou, TCU and West Virginia in this post ... because I want to.

Now, for the best new names in the Big 12.

Team MVP: Lynx Hawthorne, ATH, Baylor: Known for his cat-like reflexes, I can only assume. Will also assume the role of my new favorite player in the Big 12.

Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma: Matching consonants are a great start for a great name. But the adjective/noun first name combined with the noun last name, too? Too much, sir. My hat is off.

Eric Striker, S, Oklahoma: A safety named Striker? Come on, Bob Stoops. Perfection. He narrowly missed my MVP nod.

Ellwood Clement, OT, Kansas State: Bringing a bit of the blues to The Little Apple. I assume he plays a mean harmonica.

Maty Mauk, QB, Missouri: His nomenclatorial doppelganger (I'm slapping a patent on that term) won a national title at LSU, which gives him extra points, and he gets the nod based on the snappy matching consonant, too.

Aiavion Edwards, S, Baylor: Throw a jump ball in this man's territory at your own risk.

Torshiro Davis, LB, Texas: I've never heard of anyone named Torshiro, but I love it. He sounds a bit like a bull, which is a great trait for a linebacker. And its uniqueness is offset by the unremarkable last name. It just works.

Zorrell Ezell, DT, Baylor: He's not an evil emperor, but he means business.

Kolby Listenbee, ATH, TCU: Rumor has it he captures the attention of insects near and far with a mere whisper.

Orion Stewart, ATH, Baylor: I hear this guy has a belt that is just mesmerizing.

Devlyn Cousin, DT, Iowa State: Guy is just an absolute terror at family reunions.

Glenn Gronkowski, WR, Kansas State: A guy named Gronkowski is going to catch passes for a team with one of the game's best coaches? Where have I heard this before? Big brother Rob didn't win the Super Bowl this year, but everybody in the family gets to keep the name. I'd say they broke even.

Kennedy Estelle, OT, Texas: Sounds like a supermodel. Blocks like a big ugly.

Polo Manukainiu, DE, Texas A&M: I love Pacific Islander names, and this one clearly qualifies. Also, his name is Polo. Outstanding, sir.

Noble Nwachukwu, DE, West Virginia: Assuming his name is pronounced the same as the Aggies' receiver, it looks like he'll bring an additional level of class to the family name, which is pronounced "WATCH-ah-koo."

Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OT, TCU: I look forward to moving from "butchered" to "serviceable" when it comes to pronouncing his name in the future.

Thierry Nguema, CB, Texas Tech: Bringing a bit of European soccer to the Big 12, which is something I think it's always needed.

To this year's team: Congratulations on the nod. I look forward to seeing you play and hearing your names called often on broadcasts. This was a great group of my absolute favorite names from the new classes.

Any suggestions for this year's recruiting classes that I missed?
The big day is so, so close. National signing day will get started bright and early Wednesday morning, but it's time to take a look at where the Big 12 teams sit with one day left before players can officially sign.

This will change quickly in the next couple days, but here's how they look before things get real crazy. Here's how the rankings looked two weeks ago, when we last updated the Big 12 scorecard.

This scorecard is written in pencil. Tomorrow, players will sign in ink.

1. Texas Longhorns

National ranking: No. 3
Total commits: 27
ESPNU 150 commits: 11
Key commits: RB Johnathan Gray, DT Malcom Brown, WR Cayleb Jones, QB Connor Brewer
Latest news: Texas recently added the nation's No. 1 inside linebacker, former Tennessee commit Dalton Santos. That may help its national ranking, which fell from No. 2 to No. 3 since our last update. The Longhorns also added No. 14 ATH Daje Johnson, a former TCU commit. Both were ESPNU 150 prospects. Texas also added defensive end Bryce Cottrell, who had previously been committed to Oregon.

2. Oklahoma Sooners

National ranking: No. 10
Total commits: 20
ESPNU 150 commits: 5
Key commits: RB Alex Ross, WR Sterling Shepard, WR Durron Neal, OL Ty Darlington, WR Trey Metoyer
Latest news: Oklahoma surpassed Texas A&M since our last update, and added Sam Grant, the nation's No. 18 TE. David Smith, the nation's No. 124 ATH, also joined the fold for the Sooners. One of the nation's top juco offensive tackles, Will Latu also pledged to Oklahoma and could make an immediate impact. Oklahoma swiped Zack Sanchez on Monday, a cornerback who had been committed to Baylor since July.

3. Texas A&M Aggies

National ranking: No. 12
Total commits: 22
ESPNU 150 commits: 5
Key commits: OLB Jordan Richmond, RB Trey Williams, ATH Bralon Addison, QB Matt Davis
Latest news: The nation's No. 33 defensive end, Polo Manukainiu, became a late addition to the Aggies' class, and the nation's No. 30 safety, Edward Pope, also gave new coach Kevin Sumlin a commitment.

4. Texas Tech Red Raiders

National ranking: No. 17
Total commits: 26
ESPNU 150 commits: 3
Key commits: WR Reginald Davis, WR Dominique Wheeler, OT Michael Starts, QB Clayton Nicholas
Latest news: The Red Raiders added juco cornerback Ola Falemi to their class, but look out for Tuberville on signing day. Switches on the big day are no surprises with him at Tech.

5. Baylor Bears

Total commits: 22
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: ATH Corey Coleman, OT Kyle Fuller, DT Javonte Magee, OLB Brian Nance
Latest news: Baylor swiped Kansas QB commit Seth Russell, No. 47 nationally at the position, to make a big wave across the Big 12. It also grabbed cornerback Patrick Levels out of Dallas. Nance and Magee both pledged to Baylor after the new year.

6. Missouri Tigers

Total commits: 18
ESPNU 150 commits: 1
Key commits: OG Evan Boehm, QB Maty Mauk, ILB Donavin Newsom, OLB Torey Boozer
Latest news: Missouri may be in the lead in the DGB sweepstakes after hosting the nation's No. 1 receiver on a visit on the final weekend of the recruiting season. The nation's No. 105 ATH John Gibson and No. 151 DT, Harold Brantley, are the latest additions to Mizzou's class.

7. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Total commits: 21
ESPNU 150 commits: 1
Key commits: TE Dominic Ramacher, OLB Jeremiah Tshimanga, OT Michael Wilson, QB Wes Lunt
Latest news: OSU has added five commits since our last update, including Wilson, the nation's No. 22 offensive tackle. Receiver Chance Allen (No. 141) joins the squad as well. CB Kevin Peterson came to OSU after originally committing to Oklahoma. OSU also added receiver Jhajuan Seales. Juco offensive tackle Chris Grishby committed on Jan. 22.

8. Iowa State Cyclones

Total commits: 21
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: OT Daniel Burton, WR P.J. Harris, WR Quan West, ATH Damien Lawry
Latest news: The Cyclones have two fewer commits than the last time we checked in, but added Devlyn Cousin, the nation's No. 154 defensive tackle.

9. Kansas State Wildcats

Total commits: 18
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: WR Vernon Vaughn, DT Travis Britz, RB Jarvis Leverett, QB Tavarius Bender
Latest news: Kansas State added five commitments in the last two weeks, highlighted by Demonte Hood, the nation's No. 111 DT. RB Charles Jones is headed to Manhattan via Louisiana, too. S Donovan Starks is coming from Crosby, Texas, and receiver Judah Jones is a Wildcat after wrapping his high school career at power Evangel Christian in Louisiana. OT Ellwood Clement gave K-State five juco players in this class, low by Bill Snyder's standards.

10. Kansas Jayhawks

Total commits: 18
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: TE Jordan Smith, OG Brian Beckmann, S Gregg Allen, DT Tyler Holmes
Latest news: New coach Charlie Weis has added four commits since our last update. QB Seth Russell, the team's top commit, is gone, but the Jayhawks have the QB spot settled for the next three years with transfers Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps. Greg Allen (No. 89 safety) is the top new addition, and Charles Brooks gives the class a second tight end. The Jayhawks also added a pair of juco defensive tackles that figure to have immediate impacts, Chaquil Reed and Jordan Tavai.

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