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Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Top Big 12 recruiting rivalries

By Damon Sayles

Recruiting rivalries. No matter if two teams are pushing for a national title or in a rebuilding stage, recruiting gets the people going. Nothing ruffles the feathers of recruiting fans more than monitoring the process of a player considering one school and its big rival.

Here are five of the better recruiting rivalries going right now in the Big 12.

1. Texas-Oklahoma

This is traditionally the biggest game of the year in the Big 12, and it’s the biggest rivalry recruiting-wise, as well. Which power can land the most in-state talent? Which power can steal away the most talent from across of the border. Oct. 12 will be huge, as the Longhorns and Sooners battle in the annual Red River Rivalry, and several top targets will be paying close attention. Leading the charge will be ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell), who has both schools very high on his list. ESPN 300 cornerback Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne) is looking at leaving the conference to play football, but he has positive things to say about both Texas and Oklahoma. One player to really keep an eye on is ESPN 300 safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie), who has been interested in Texas for a long time but has taken a new level of interest in the Sooners.

2. Oklahoma-Oklahoma State

Bedlam. No one word defines the attitude of a weekend that takes place either in Norman, Okla., or in Stillwater, Okla. It’s a time when a state is divided, and it’s a time when recruiting targets interested in both schools begin to make up their minds. The hot name still uncommitted from the state is ESPN 300 safety Steven Parker Jr. (Jenks, Okla./Jenks). The 6-foot-2, 175-pound playmaker has both schools atop his recruiting list, and many are wondering if he will choose the traditional Big 12 power in the Sooners or the rising superstar of the conference in the Cowboys. Something to think about: Parker’s high school teammate, three-star safety Dylan Harding, committed to Oklahoma State on July 31. As for an out-of-state name, both schools are hoping to lure ESPN 300 defensive tackle Garrald McDowell (Covington, La./Covington) out of Louisiana. McDowell, however, is projected to play ball in the SEC.

3. Texas-Baylor

Texas has owned recruiting for years in the Big 12, primarily with players in the Lone Star State. Baylor’s recent success on the field -- coupled with Texas’ less-than-stellar efforts -- has put it in the forefront of recruiting within the state. While Texas is sitting pretty with 24 commits and seven of the 24 being ESPN 300 players, Baylor has 23 commits with three ESPN 300 players. The Bears were able to land ESPN 300 standouts in wide receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau) over Texas.

Baylor is hoping to not only win one or two more from the 2014 class but also outshine the Longhorns in the 2015 class. Texas, however, has jumped out to an outstanding start with eight commits -- and all eight are ESPN Junior 300 players. Maea Teuhema (Keller, Texas/Keller), the nation’s No. 3 offensive tackle, leads the charge in the 2015 class.

4. Kansas-Kansas State

Wins and losses on the football field tend to put this rivalry on the back burner, but ask anyone who supports Lawrence, Kan., and despises Manhattan, Kan. -- and vice versa. This rivalry gets intense, primarily for in-state players. Kansas won the biggest battle thus far when four-star running back Traevohn Wrench (Gardner, Kan./Gardner-Edgerton), the state’s No. 3 player, chose the Jayhawks over the Wildcats. Kansas, in fact, has three of the state’s top 10 players in Wrench, three-star athlete Joe Dineen (Lawrence, Kan./Free State) and three-star athlete Andre Maloney (Shawnee, Kan./Shawnee Mission West).

Kansas State, however, has a shot at landing the state’s biggest target in ESPN 300 offensive lineman Braden Smith (Olathe, Kan./Olathe South), who has offers from multiple schools, including Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State and TCU, in addition to the in-state school. The state’s No. 4 player, high three-star tight end DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, Kan./Derby) also has both in-state schools high on his list, as well as Oklahoma, Florida and Ohio State.

5. Baylor-Texas Tech

Some people say Baylor is chasing Texas in recruiting. The school many tend to forget about is Texas Tech. When the Bears and Red Raiders collide on Nov. 16 in Waco, Texas, this can really shape recruiting for the immediate future. A lot of 2015 players are keeping tabs on both teams -- which are undefeated as we inch close to the middle of the season. Those same players are particularly watching the head coaches. Art Briles has made Baylor one of the most exciting teams to watch and a team with a Heisman hopeful in running back Lache Seastrunk. First-year Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury is winning games with young players and freshmen quarterbacks in Davis Webb and walk-on Baker Mayfield.

The race for a few uncommitted players is still strong. Four-star running back Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter), high three-star safety Payton Hendrix (Dallas/Bishop Dunne), three-star safety John Plattenburg (Houston/Lamar) and junior college offensive tackle Avery Gennesy (Southaven, Miss./East Mississippi Community College) all are considering both programs.