Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Big 12 recruiting roundtable
By Jake Trotter
National signing day is now just 24 hours away. To get you ready, we checked in with our ESPN.com recruiting experts for their takes on the major storylines in the Big 12.
Senior national recruiting writer Jeremy Crabtree and Big 12 recruiting reporter Damon Sayles took time from their extremely busy schedules this week to address a few questions:
Oklahoma is closing strong here. With a few blue-chip players still in play, could the Sooners end up with the top class in the Big 12
Jeremy Crabtree: I think Oklahoma will be one of the national storylines on signing day. The Sooners have surged in recruiting’s home stretch and it will continue on signing day. Oklahoma is in great shape to land Michiah Quick, the No. 75 player in the ESPN 300 from Fresno (Calif.) East, and Steven Parker II, the No. 139 player from Jenks, Okla. If they get both, I think you can make a good argument for the Sooners having the best class in the Big 12.
Getting a commitment from in-state ESPN 300 safety Steven Parker II would help Oklahoma's quest to have the Big 12's top class immensely.
Damon Sayles: There are two uncommitted ESPN 300 players -- Quick and Parker II -- still in the running for the Sooners. If Oklahoma can land at least one of the two, there's a very good chance it can overtake Texas for the top class in the conference. If Oklahoma can land both and also manage to flip ESPN 300 defensive end Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass) -- an LSU commit -- the Sooners could finish with a top-10 ranking nationally.
Which other Big 12 programs have impressed you?
Crabtree: I’ve been a big fan of Baylor’s class for quite some time. The Bears have reloaded on the offensive side of the ball with five ESPN 300 prospects. No. 30-ranked K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and No. 38 prospect Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau) are playmakers who should thrive in the Bears’ offense. I think people have also overlooked Oklahoma State’s class. The Cowboys are quietly building a very good reputation for developing players, and there are a number of guys in this year’s crop that could become monsters down the road.
Sayles: Baylor and Texas have been impressive for two separate reasons. For Baylor, having 27 commits is great. Having five of those 27 be ESPN 300 players is even better. Having four of those five ESPN 300 players be wide receivers puts big smiles on the faces of Art Briles, his offensive coaching staff and even Bryce Petty. Texas has 21 commits, but with the coaching change, it is impressive to see how Charlie Strong has kept a large nucleus of players together. The Longhorns have seven ESPN 300 players, and they are still in the hunt for another in defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head).
Several junior-college players will be transferring in to the Big 12. Who will make the biggest impact?
Crabtree: Kansas State needs help on defense and you can point toward a number of their defensive recruits to step up right away, but with QB Jake Waters returning, the Wildcats will need another receiver to complement Tyler Lockett. That’s where Andre Davis (Santa Rosa, Calif./Santa Rosa) comes in. A number of coaches thought he was the top juco receiver in the 2014 class.
Sayles: A couple players have the chance to make some immediate noise in the conference, including Baylor offensive lineman signee Jarell Broxton (Gaithersburg, Md./Lackawanna College) and Kansas State defensive tackle commit Terrell Clinkscales (Dodge City, Kan./Dodge City Community College), two ESPN Junior College 50 players. However, I think Tyreek Hill (Pearson, Ga./Garden City Community College) has the tools to be one of the most exciting players in college football at Oklahoma State as a running back, receiver or returner. Hill is the top-ranked juco athlete in the country and No. 4 in the ESPN Junior College 50 for a reason. Speed kills, and opposing teams will find that out soon enough.
It appears several incoming freshman QBs could contend for starting jobs immediately. Who do you give the best chance of winning a job right away?
Crabtree: Three-star quarterback Patrick Mahomes (Whitehouse, Texas/Whitehouse) at Texas Tech is my guy to keep an eye on. He’s got a perfect build for quarterback at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, and his production speaks for itself. Kliff Kingsbury isn’t afraid to play young quarterbacks, especially if they make plays. Our scouts think Mahomes doesn’t have the best mechanics, but he sure makes a whole lot of plays.
Sayles: I don't see any of the freshmen actually starting right off the bat, but with the situation at Texas, don't be surprised if ESPN 300 quarterback Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) is calling plays for the Longhorns before the end of the 2014 season. Heard is a pure dual-threat option, and he'll fit well into Charlie Strong's system. We still don't fully know about the status of incumbent David Ash, but Heard is a game manager with athleticism, which makes for a dangerous combination. He finished his high school career with back-to-back state championships, and is a winner.
Finally, name a couple other incoming freshmen who we can expect to have an immediate impact in 2014?
Crabtree: I admit, I’m awfully excited to see what Oklahoma’s offense with Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) would look like. The No. 6 running back in the country is so explosive and can be used in a number of different ways. I have a feeling Josh Heupel and Cale Gundy are already drawing up ways to use his explosiveness.
Sayles:Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale), an ESPN 300 wide receiver, can be a reliable option in Iowa State's offense. Look for the Cyclones to take advantage of his 6-foot-5 frame. ESPN 300 athlete Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), the top-ranked player in Pennsylvania, could be a major contributor for West Virginia early. Outside linebacker Kyron Watson (East St. Louis, Ill./East St. Louis) is a special kind of player who could flourish at Kansas. Any member of Baylor's incoming ESPN 300 wide receiver quartet of Cannon, Hall, Ishmael Zamora (Houston/Alief Elsik) and Chris Platt (Willis, Texas/Willis) could be go-to targets as well.