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Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Best Big 12 classes by position

By William Wilkerson

There is still plenty of work for every Big 12 program to do before the completion of the 2014 recruiting cycle. But one can begin to at least paint an outline for how each class is going to look come February.

Here is a look at which Big 12 teams have the best 2014 recruiting class at each position.
Strongest class: Texas
This one came down to, surprise, Texas and Oklahoma, with the Longhorns squeaking this one out with their commitment from Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer). The ESPN 300 quarterback has long been the signal-caller Texas wanted in this class, and for good reason. At 6-foot-2 and 196 pounds, Heard has the ability both athletically and mentally to be a difference-maker in Austin. He is also expected to bring some much-needed stability to a position that hasn’t had much of it over the past few seasons. He led Guyer to a state championship in 2012 by completing 155-of-250 passes for 2,090 yards and 17 touchdowns (seven interceptions), and also rushed 250 times for 2,138 yards and 35 scores. He was an Elite 11 finalist, which OU commitment Justice Hansen (Edmond, OK/Santa Fe) was not. Look for these two to battle it out in Dallas for many years to come.

Running back
Strongest class: Texas
If we revisit this question in a few months this could very well be Oklahoma’s spot to lose. They’ve already got a commitment from ESPN 300 recruit Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson), who is ranked No. 228 overall and No. 18 at his position. And they are very much in the running for the No. 100 recruit overall Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) and four-star Nathan Starks (Greenwood Village, Colo./Cherry Creek). But until those chips fall where they may, we’ll go with the Longhorns’ position-by-committee over OU and Oklahoma State, which has the Big 12’s top RB in Devon Thomas (Broken Arrow, OK/Broken Arrow), the No. 208 player overall and No. 15 RB. Texas has an ESPN 300 RB of its own in Donald Catalon (Houston/Eisenhower), who is the No. 23 RB overall, and also a couple of underrated three-star commitments in Kevin Shorter (Newton, Texas/Newton) and D’Onta Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City). Due to the turnover Texas could experience at the RB position over the next year or so, these three players could see the field early.

Wide receiver/Tight end
Strongest class: Baylor
This is probably the toughest position to pick and could have easily gone three different ways. But we’ll go with Baylor, led by its star-studded duo of K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), over Oklahoma and Texas. Cannon, the No 5 WR, and Hall, the No. 9 athlete, are as good a one-two punch as any in the country. The Bears did a great job of surrounding them with above-average weapons in four-star Ishmael Zamora (Houston/Elsik), three-star Chris Platt (Willis, Texas/Willis), and two top 25 tight ends in Jordan Feuerbacher (Kingwood, Texas/Kingwood) and Blake Mahon (Coppell, Texas/Coppell). Oklahoma has an argument with three WR/TEs in the ESPN 300, while two of Texas’ six WRs are ESPN 300 members. West Virginia also has a case with two ESPN 300 WR.

Offensive line
Strongest class: Baylor
Offensive linemen, across the conference, are not as strong as they’ve been in years past. By default, so to speak, we’ll go with Baylor, who might not have the most highly regarded group but definitely the largest. It starts with a pair of offensive tackles in Josh Pelzel (Rockdale, Texas/Rockdale), the No. 42 OT overall, and Patrick Lawrence (Waxahachie, Texas/Waxahachie), the No. 67 OT. They are the headliners of a class with five OL commitments, which includes mammoth juco commitment Jarell Broxton (Gaithersburg, MD/Lackawanna College), who is 6-foot-5 and 328 pounds. Texas Tech is the only school that can rival the Bears in numbers, with four commitments. But they aren’t ranked very high. TCU could end up with the top class if Braden Smith (Olathe, Kan./Olathe South) ends up a Frog. Right now they only have three commitments. No other Big 12 program has more than two OL pledges.

Defensive line
Strongest class: Texas
This one is fairly simple to figure out. The Longhorns, for now, are the only team in the conference that has had success getting commitments across the DL. It starts with ESPN 300 DE Derick Roberson (San Antonio/Brennan), the No. 8 DE overall. While his commitment is anything but a guarantee, he’s been true to his word since Aug. 2, 2012. The Longhorns also have commitments from four-star DTs Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren) and Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), as well as Sione Teuhema (Keller, Texas/Keller), the No. 38 DE, and Jake McMillon (Abilene, Texas/Abilene), the No. 71 DT.

Strongest class: Oklahoma State
Baylor, TCU and Texas all have strong linebacker classes to date, but this one came down to Oklahoma State and West Virginia. In the end, the Pokes get the nod with two top 15 recruits at their positions in outside linebacker Gyasi Akem (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow) and inside linebacker Josh Mabin (Spring, Texas/Klein Oak). Akem, the No. 221 player overall, is rated as the No. 15 OLB. Mabin, a four-star prospect, is the No. 13 ILB. WVU rivals OSU with a class consisting of ESPN 300 OLB Davonte James (Springfield, OH/Springfield) and juco stud Devante Averette (Iowa Falls, IA/Ellsworth CC), who had an offer from OSU.

Strongest class: Texas
This isn’t the strongest collection of defensive backs the Longhorns have ever put together, but it is still good enough to be the best in the Big 12. The headliner of the group is ESPN 300 DB Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), the No. 15 CB. Texas recently picked up a verbal pledge from four-star safety John Bonney (Houston/Lamar), the No. 21 safety. It also has a commitment from former Nebraska safety verbal pledge Jason Hall (Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie). This class could get stronger if UT can find a way to turn this season around. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are Texas’ biggest competition here.