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Thursday, December 12, 2013
Big 12 recruiting storylines: Dec. 12

By Damon Sayles

With the high school playoffs coming to an end and junior college bowl games behind us, it’s time for many athletes to put recruiting back in the forefront. Several athletes are either in the middle of finishing up their official visit schedules, or they’re in the right mindset to make the big announcement that will shape their lives for the next few years.

Here are some attractive storylines in the Big 12:

Four-star DT still tight with Texas?

This weekend marks the big banquet weekend for Texas, an important event when many commits come to Austin and several targets look to take official visit. With Mack Brown expected to announce his resignation very soon, this weekend could also serve as a time to keep an eye out for Texas commits who choose to reopen their recruiting because of Brown’s departure.

Trey Lealaimatafao
Defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao will be in Austin for an official visit this weekend.
One player to watch is four-star commit Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren), who is expected to be in Austin for an official visit. Lealaimatafao’s presence is important, as there will be several questions answered about his true interest in the Longhorns. Lealaimatafao has insisted that he’s still solid with Texas, but he’s taken recent official visits to UCLA, Arizona State and Ole Miss.

Cyclones blazing in early parts of December

December is only 12 days old, but it has been very good to Iowa State. The Cyclones have picked up five commits since the start of the month, and they’re hoping to land a few more before the end of the year.

One player who is excited about the future of Iowa State is junior college linebacker Jordan Harris (Wesson, Miss./Copiah-Lincoln Community College). The 6-foot, 235-pound inside linebacker, who committed Dec. 10, said he chose the Cyclones because he felt most wanted there, and the possibility of turning the program around is something that intrigued him.

“I just feel real good about it,” Harris said. “They’ve got a great leader in Coach [Paul] Rhoads. It’s going to be a matter of time before this thing blows through the roof. I’m ready to hop in.”

Iowa State, which has 20 commitments, is hoping to land players such as ESPN Junior College 50 cornerback Danzel McDaniel (Dodge City, Kan./Dodge City Community College), four-star running back Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter) and three-star athlete Darious Crawley (Houston/Cypress Ridge).

Who’s next for Oklahoma State?

Oklahoma State has 24 commits, the latest being three-star running back Sione Palelei (Gonzales, La./East Ascension), who decommitted from LSU to play ball in Stillwater, Okla.

Palelei was the second player to switch from LSU to Oklahoma State. Four-star cornerback Chris Hardeman (Houston/Alief Taylor) switched to Oklahoma State in August. Like Hardeman, Palelei is expected to be a solid contributor for the Cowboys sooner rather than later.

The big question now involves who Oklahoma State wants next. National signing day is getting closer, and the spaces for commitment are becoming less and less. Oklahoma State is hoping to land ESPN 300 safety Steven Parker II (Jenks, Okla./Jenks), but players like three-star junior college safety Josh Keys (Seminary, Miss./Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College) and four-star linebacker Kenny Young (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) are far from consolation prizes.

West Virginia continuing to build budding class

West Virginia has been pretty content with its 2014 class, particularly after a week where it lands an ESPN 300 player. Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), the No. 1 player out of Pennsylvania, verbally committed to the Mountaineers on Dec. 9.

To add to its success, West Virginia also landed Henry’s high school teammate, three-star defensive tackle Jaleel Fields, two days later. The Mountaineers now have three December pledges -- the other being junior college quarterback Skyler Howard (White Settlement, Texas/Riverside Community College) -- and the coaches are hoping for more of the same this month.

Still on the market is four-star running back Donte Thomas-Williams (Durham, N.C./Hillside), a 6-foot, 217-pound bull with speed. The nation’s 12th-ranked running back could be a major addition for a Mountaineers team that entered the top 40 of the latest ESPN class rankings on Wednesday.

Will one ESPN 300 DE call Baylor home?

After some speculation early, it appears as though Baylor will keep its 2014 class intact.

The Bears’ top two commitments, ESPN 300 receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and ESPN 300 athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), had been on watch for decommitting, but both players seem to be ready to continue their college careers in Baylor’s green and gold. Cannon has been on several unofficial trips since committing in August.

Baylor has 24 commits, the latest being three-star safety Chance Waz (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson), and it has its eyes on a couple of targets to close the class. ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) is still one to watch. While many feel Thomas' decision will come down to Texas, Stanford, Oklahoma and Notre Dame, Baylor is a school with a rising football program and a respected academic reputation -- two things he holds very highly as he prepares to make a decision.