Thursday, February 2, 2012
Wrapping up signing day in the Big 12
By David Ubben
National signing day has come and gone, and as with any game week, we'll provide a proper wrap-up of the events of the week. Time to hand out a few superlatives.
Top class: Texas
The Longhorns did what the Longhorns do once again: Dominate a state with a talent pool as rich as any in America. The flagship school in the state of Texas reeled in 12 ESPNU 150 signees, seven more than any school in the Big 12, and finished the day at No. 3 in ESPN Recruiting's class rankings, the only Big 12 team in the top five.
Player you'll see next year: Courtney Gardner, WR, Oklahoma
The Sooners grabbed Gardner, a juco prospect, on signing day after he had been committed to Arkansas. Gardner's physical maturity earned rave reviews. For the Sooners, who need big help at pass-catcher positions, he'll provide a big, versatile target to help replace Ryan Broyles, who left for the NFL and left a big void in the Sooners' lineup when he tore his ACL late in 2011.
Best save: Texas A&M
The Aggies got some semi-expected news early, receiving word that Bralon Addison had sent his letter of intent to Oregon. It didn't take A&M long to get over it, though. The nation's No. 18 receiver had left the fold, but later in the day, at a news conference in Dallas broadcast live on ESPNU, the nation's No. 3 receiver pledged to the Aggies. The sweetest part for the Ags: SEC-bound Thomas Johnson had previously been committed to Texas, which is badly in need of receivers.
Biggest thieves: Texas
The Longhorns did a little work on the recruiting trail late, too. Eight of the final nine commitments that Texas received were previously committed elsewhere, and Mack Brown's staff flipped four players between Saturday and signing day. The final one came midday on signing day, when LSU-committed, Shreveport-bred Torshiro Davis flipped his commitment from LSU and sent Texas his letter of intent.
Future award winner: Johnathan Gray, RB, Texas
You don't become the nation's all-time high school leader in touchdowns scored by accident. Gray is the top overall player headed to a Big 12 school and could do big things in Texas' physical attack. The backfield will be crowded at first, but Gray seems like a can't-miss prospect who could perhaps become another award winner in the backfield for Texas, which hasn't had one since Cedric Benson in 2004.
Program on the rise: Baylor
RG who? Baylor's more than just one player, and Art Briles' staff proved it this year. Baylor brings in a class just outside the national top 25 that's loaded with prospects on the side of the ball the Bears need the most help with: Defense. Linebacker Brian Nance and defensive tackle Javonte Magee are among the nation's best at their positions.