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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Big 12 class rankings analysis

By Damon Sayles

The big question entering the new week: Would Texas take a dive in the ESPN class rankings after losing three defensive tackle pledges?

While the Longhorns didn’t lose ground, they didn’t gain ground either. A push, in this case, is definitely a win for Texas, which stays at No. 13 and still atop the Big 12 class rankings. Oklahoma is closing in at No. 17, while Baylor remains in the top 20 at No. 18.

Oklahoma State is at No. 25, Texas Tech is at No. 35 and West Virginia is at No. 37. Here is an in-depth look at the Big 12 class rankings:

Trending up: Without question, the conference’s shock of the week came when ESPN 300 cornerback Nigel Bethel II (Miami/Booker T. Washington) flipped his commitment from Miami to Texas Tech. His presence alone was enough to move the Red Raiders up a couple spots from last week. Bethel is Texas Tech’s highest-ranked commit and first ESPN 300 pledge since the Class of 2012. At 5-foot-9 and 172 pounds, Bethel is a shutdown cornerback who will be an asset to the Red Raiders’ defense -- possibly soon.

Trending down: Kansas is still stuck on 13 commitments and has yet to pick up a new pledge in the new year. The Jayhawks still have two ESPN 300 commits in outside linebacker Kyron Watson (East St. Louis, Ill./East St. Louis) and interior offensive lineman Jacob Bragg (Nacogdoches, Texas/Nacogdoches), but with national signing day rapidly approaching, they are hoping to land a few more commits that can help their program. Three-star cornerback Matthew Boateng (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy) was Kansas’ last commit on Dec. 20.

One to watch: Versatile four-star safety Steven Parker II (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) skyrocketed 61 spots -- from No. 200 to No. 139 -- in the rankings. Now it’s time to monitor which school will land him. Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Texas and Ohio State are among the places he could choose on national signing day. One school to watch is Auburn, which he will visit on Jan. 31. Parker is the nation’s No. 9 safety, but if needed, he can play cornerback or wide receiver at the next level.

Bold prediction: For Texas followers, the last few days of recruiting have been slightly uncomfortable. With new coach Charlie Strong’s staff nearly complete, Longhorns fans will be excited about what’s to come. Assistant coach Joe Wickline is one of the most respected names in college football, and comes to Texas from Oklahoma State, where he consistently produced an offensive line that helped the Cowboys’ skill-position players put up some of the best numbers in the nation. Wickline’s arrival in Austin will mean big things for the Longhorns.