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Monday, December 23, 2013
Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12

By Damon Sayles

Tis the season for state-title games and all-star games for many of the nation’s top recruits. Several Big 12 targets were on notice over the weekend, whether it involved playing for a state football ring or state bragging rights.

Two headlining events over the weekend were the Texas high school state championships in Arlington, Texas, and the annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas in Spartanburg, S.C. Here are some weekend highlights from both events in addition to news about an ESPN 300 running back and a three-star athlete considered to be a two-sport standout.

Record crowd eyes ESPN Junior 300 QB’s dominance

Four college bowl games took place on Saturday. Three of the four games had smaller crowds than the one ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas/Allen) performed for.

Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray capped off another state championship season for Allen (Texas) High School, leading it to a 63-28 victory over Pearland (Texas).
The nation’s second-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2015 class won his second consecutive state title, accounting for 468 total yards and five touchdowns as Allen cruised to a 63-28 win against Pearland. Murray, who has offers from Texas A&M, Texas, Ohio State, Oregon, Auburn and many others, completed 11 of 14 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 188 yards and a score.

As impressive as Murray was, the largest crowd to watch a high school football game may have been even more of a story. The announced crowd of 54,347 put Saturday’s college games to shame.

The Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl -- which featured two top-25 teams in USC and Fresno State -- had 42,178. The Gildan New Mexico Bowl and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl combined for 49,055 fans. Even the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl pitting Louisville and Florida drew 54,178 -- 169 less than the Allen-Pearland affair.

Just to show how big Texas high school football is on all levels, the state had 12 division titles this year, from the six-man classification to Class 5A. Eight of the 12 state championship games drew crowds of 11,000 or more fans, and five of those eight attracted at least 20,000. The Class 4A Division I state title game had 33,745 in attendance. The Class 5A Division II title game had 30,285 present.

Cowboys QB commit shines at Shrine

You can bet that Oklahoma State coaches were smiling when they heard about what ESPN 300 quarterback Mason Rudolph (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) did at the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas -- the annual North Carolina-South Carolina all-star clash -- on Saturday.

Rudolph, the Cowboys’ top-ranked recruit and the nation’s No. 8 pocket-passing quarterback, threw three touchdown passes for the South Carolina squad -- including a game-winner to ESPN 300 receiver Shaquille Davidson, a South Carolina commit, in the final 16 seconds. Rudolph was named the game’s offensive MVP.

Not that Oklahoma State needed it, but Rudolph reminded the coaching staff of what he does well. He made plays, managed the game and, most importantly, led his team to a victory. Rudolph finished his high school career with more than 10,000 passing yards and 124 touchdowns. He also completed nearly 70 percent of his passes in three varsity seasons.

Sooners still in the running for ESPN 300 RB

Jan. 4 will be decision day for Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom). The ESPN 300 running will announce his college plans during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.

Oklahoma will be one of the three hats on the table for the nation’s No. 72 overall player and No. 9 running back. Mixon’s top three, announced via Twitter on Saturday, includes the Sooners, UCLA and Wisconsin.

Many feel Oklahoma is the favorite to land Mixon, but both UCLA and Wisconsin are legitimate contenders. UCLA is the closest to home, roughly five hours away Oakley, and Wisconsin has a reputation of producing quality running backs. However, Mixon has built a solid relationship with running backs coach/director of recruiting Cale Gundy, and he enjoyed his official visit to Norman, Okla., the weekend of Oct. 4.

2015 WR building his reputation

Ryan Newsome (Aledo, Texas/Aledo) is a household name to many Texas high school football fans, but his national popularity seemed to grow with every big week. Seven punt returns for touchdowns and multiple big plays as a wide receiver have helped his cause.

Newsome rushed six times for 91 yards and a touchdown and also caught a 28-yard touchdown pass to help Aledo defeat Brenham and win the Texas Class 4A Division II state championship. His touchdown reception put Aledo over the 1,000-point mark for the season. No other high school team has scored 1,000 points in a season.

Newsome’s versatility has made him a target among several BCS schools. He has Big 12 offers from TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas Tech, along with offers from Clemson, UCLA, Oregon State and Colorado State. Newsome also is starting to pick up interest from Alabama and Texas A&M.

“They’re all looking at me as a wide receiver,” Newsome said, “but they also want me to be a return guy. I’ll do whatever.”

Newsome said he will rest his body for the holiday break, then prepare for the offseason and get ready for spring camps and combines to further get his name out to the masses.

Football or basketball for three-star twin?

Three-star receiver Derrick Neal (Dallas/Lincoln) once was thought to be joining his twin brother Erick on the basketball court at the next level. Erick Neal signed with Texas-Arlington as a point guard in November.

Derrick, however, chose not to sign and is now leaning toward playing football in college. Once committed to Texas Tech, Neal is weighing a few options and recently picked up an offer from Kansas.

A 5-foot-10, 160-pound athlete, Neal is getting looks from TCU and Baylor. Those schools haven't extended offers yet, but he has offers from Kansas, Texas Tech and Oregon State. The idea of trying to be a receiver in the fall and a basketball point guard during the winter also is something he would consider -- if the opportunity presents itself.

Neal was used in multiple formations as a senior. He rushed for 486 yards and five touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 259 yards and three scores.