NCF On The Trail: Baylor Bears

Dec. 19, 2014. Consider it one of the biggest days for Big 12 recruiting in a long time.

On a day already anticipated as one to watch with the morning announcements of ESPN 300 linebacker Malik Jefferson and four-star athlete DeAndre McNeal, the Big 12 got its own version of a Christmas bonus with five major commitments by the end of the afternoon.

Jefferson and McNeal committed to Texas. ESPN 300 quarterback Jarrett Stidham committed to Baylor after recently decommitting from Texas Tech. ESPN 300 defensive end Ricky DeBerry and four-star safety Kahlil Haughton chose Oklahoma.

And better believe, it’s not over for the conference.

There are several players who could be additions to the growing number of Big 12 commitments. Here are five names to watch from now until national signing day in early February.

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Under Armour All-American quarterback Jarrett Stidham, a one-time Texas Tech verbal, is now on board with Baylor. Below, see how Stidham can help Art Briles continue to terrorize Big 12 defenses:


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A flurry of commitments and decommitments has led to considerable movement in the latest class rankings update. Several top-10 programs added ESPN 300 prospects, including Tennessee, which picked up top-10 ILB Darrin Kirkland Jr. The Vols already have a class that features a talented group of defensive linemen, and have now added a big, powerful inside linebacker that can develop into a tough downhill run-stopper. Butch Jones now has Tennessee in contention for a second-straight top-five finish.

Outside the top 10, USC landed a verbal from in-state tight end Tyler Petite, a tall, lengthy prospect with the size, speed and leaping ability to potentially create mismatches as a receiving target at the position. After landing the former Duke commit, USC's class features eight ESPN 300 prospects.

Ole Miss also saw a move up in the rankings with a pair of additions. The Rebels landed ESPN Junior College 50 QB Chad Kelly, a player who is physically gifted enough to be a strong candidate to replace QB Bo Wallace, a one-time junior college transfer himself. Ole Miss, who not sits at No. 17, also landed ESPN 300 OT Michael Howard. He is a lean OL prospect that needs to fill out, but is an athletic and tenacious player and with development could end up being a real strong pick-up out of Florida for the Rebels.

Inside the rankings

Coach Art Briles has had two very distinct luxuries when it comes to recruiting in today's complicated landscape -- recruiting in the shadows and recruiting without pressure. Both are actually in many ways, one in the same. As Briles has built this program, he's been able to do it his way without public pressure or booster interference because early on, nobody thought it could be done and nobody cared.

This staff was able to go after who they wanted, on their own timetable and without much scrutiny. In today's recruiting world, that's a huge luxury. Players like Levi Norwood, Antwan Goodley or Tevin Reese, who was a late qualifier, were all bypassed by other Power 5 programs, but nobody even noticed Baylor signed them or griped, "who are these guys" on signing day.

As a result, prospects like these were brought along at a normal pace and developed properly by the coaching staff. Redshirting the bulk of the classes for the first few years has also been huge for the Bears. The challenge going forward will be dealing with increased program exposure and expectation level which almost always brings with it increased recruiting scrutiny from boosters and fans alike. But the Bears don??t need to change a thing.



To see the full class rankings, click here.

Early Offer: The dead period is here 

December, 14, 2014
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What is the dead period and why is it an important time in football recruiting? Plus, Texas Tech’s loss at quarterback could be Baylor’s gain.

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Go ahead and debate who should have been in the inaugural College Football Playoff, but there’s no debating Bama, Oregon, FSU and OSU dominate in recruiting.

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Big 12 recruiting scorecard

December, 1, 2014
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Here's what's been cooking on the recruiting trail in the past week around the Big 12:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: It looks like Art Briles could have another explosive playmaker in his arsenal. Class of 2016 commit and ESPNJr300 member Tren'Davian Dickson broke the single-season state record with 34 touchdowns for Navasota (Texas) this season, including a four-touchdown performance over the weekend. Navasota’s playoff run continues this weekend, meaning Dickson could add to his record-breaking total before his junior season ends.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones became the first out-of-state school to offer Class of 2016 Edmond (Oklahoma) Santa Fe linebacker Calvin Bundage last week, joining Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tulsa. Bundrage could project to linebacker or safety in college.

KANSAS
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks are looking for immediate help with seven of their 13 commitments from the junior college ranks, but Kansas has a solid class considering the uncertainty without a head coach. It’s important the Jayhawks get someone hired quickly to avoid seeing this class fall apart and set the program back even further heading into 2015.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Saturday was the Wildcats’ final opportunity to host recruits during a game weekend, including Mustang (Oklahoma) tight end Blake Williams. The Class of 2016 prospect was on hand to see Kansas State’s 51-13 thrashing of Kansas.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: Oklahoma added a potential receiving target to the offense with a commitment from Blinn (Texas) Junior College receiver DeDe Westbrook. The Sooners also took advantage of their bye week by starting to make in-home visits with signing day quickly approaching. Four-star safety Kahlil Haughton tweeted a photo of himself alongside Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops on Sunday.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Cowboys commitment Ronald Jones helped McKinney (Texas) North advance deeper into the playoffs with three touchdown runs in his team’s win over the weekend. Dealing with an ankle injury, Jones finished with 33 carries for 92 yards.

TCU
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: TCU became the first program to offer Class of 2016 running back Sewo Olonilua. The Kingwood (Texas) running back has terrific size at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, and could be a name to keep an eye on in the future.

TEXAS
Total commits: 19
ESPN 300 commits: 9
The latest: The Longhorns threw their name in the mix for Orlando (Florida) Bishop Moore tackle Parker Boudreaux. A member of the ESPNJr300, Boudreaux’s lengthy offer list reads more like a database with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Auburn and others among his suitors. He is the No. 222 player in the ESPNJr300.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: The Red Raiders are hoping to flip an Oregon commitment with their recent offer to Class of 2015 Beaumont (Texas) Central safety P.J. Locke. The three-star prospect is committed to the Ducks and has offers from TCU, Oklahoma State, Alabama, and others.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 23
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Last week we noted junior college standout Larry Jefferson could be on the cusp of committing to WVU. The Itawamba Community College defensive end pulled the trigger last week, joining teammate Xavier Pegues on the Mountaineers’ pledge list. WVU is in terrific shape heading into the home stretch of this recruiting cycle with the ability to focus on hidden gems and Class of 2016 prospects thanks to its 23 current commitments.
While the rest of college football’s Power 5 conferences prepare for conference championship games, three Big 12 teams will be hosting big conference games, and of course, recruits.

Kansas State visits Baylor, and TCU hosts Iowa State in two matchups with major College Football Playoff implications. Bedlam takes place in the Sooner State as Oklahoma hosts Oklahoma State.


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Early Offer: Malik Jefferson's final 7 

November, 24, 2014
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Malik Jefferson reduced his list to seven schools on Monday, and though the list is hardly a surprise, recruiters think there are still some in store with the No. 35 player in the country.

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Big 12's top recruiting visits 

November, 21, 2014
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With Kansas State holding off West Virginia on Thursday, the Big 12 will have another three-game weekend. Will the conference have a couple players finalize their college plans?


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Early Offer: Who will land Soso Jamabo? 

November, 20, 2014
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Soso Jamabo loved visits to UCLA and Notre Dame, but is it too early to count out the Texas schools? Plus, NC State added a key pledge on Wednesday that should give the Wolfpack much-needed help on the offensive line.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

November, 18, 2014
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The Big 12 had a relatively slow week, as three games were on tap. The result of the slow week, however, proved to be prosperous for Baylor, as the Bears landed a commit to increase its 2015 class to a baker's dozen.

Here's an in-depth look at how the weekend fared from a recruiting perspective:


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

November, 11, 2014
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For Texas, it was lose a player, gain a player. For Texas Tech, it was all about gaining a potential sleeper -- even though it didn’t have the luxury of having the game-day experience as support.

For Oklahoma, it was about impressing the future stars in attendance despite a lackluster performance on the field. For TCU, the concept was simple: Earn a quality win, impress the visitors in attendance and keep the College Football Playoff committee interested.

It was a good weekend for Big 12 recruiting. Here is an in-depth look at how the weekend concluded:


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Big 12 recruiting scorecard

November, 10, 2014
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Here is what's happening on the recruiting trail around the Big 12 this week:


BAYLOR
Total commits: 12
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Waco (Texas) Midway four-star safety Kahlil Haughton was on hand to see Baylor embarrass Oklahoma, 48-14, on the Sooners' home field. Both schools are recruiting the elite safety prospect so the Bears undoubtedly made a strong impression on the Class of 2015 prospect.


IOWA STATE
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: ISU’s week on the recruiting trail was a reminder how quickly things can change. The Cyclones landed Navarro Junior College tackle Tristan Nickelson early in the week, only to see him flip his commitment to Texas on Saturday. Rough week in Ames.


KANSAS
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Class of 2016 quarterback Dagan Haehn of Corinth, Texas/Lake Travis was on hand to see the Jayhawks capture their first Big 12 win over the season with a 34-14 triumph over Iowa State. The Jayhawks also offered Shawnee Mission (Kansas) East defensive tackle Kyle Ball.


KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: It was a rough weekend for the Wildcats on the field, but Bill Snyder’s program is looking at a good “case of the Mondays” after Loganville (Georgia) Grayson linebacker Mohamed Barry committed to KSU Monday morning. The three-star prospect also reports offers from Wisconsin, South Florida, NC State and others. He continues the Wildcats' trend of looking for hidden gems in Georgia as the fourth 2015 KSU commit from The Peach State.


OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: Along with Haughton, the Sooners had several visitors for the game against Baylor including UCLA commit Will Lockett (Manvel, Texas/Manvel) and current commit Kenneth Mann (Burleson, Texas/Burleson).


OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 15
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: Several Cowboys coaches hit the recruiting trail with OSU on a bye week. The Cowboys also offered junior college offensive lineman Tyler Howell (Butler C.C.), who has offers from Arkansas, Ohio State, Missouri and others.


TCU
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Horned Frogs hosted several recruits for their game against Kansas State including Class of 2016 prospect Kaleb McNac (Garland, Texas/Lakeview Centennial) and Keion Sutton (Midlothian, Texas/Midlothian).


TEXAS
Total commits: 18
ESPN 300 commits: 9
The latest: The Longhorns flipped Navarro Junior College offensive tackle Tristan Nickelson, who was previously committed to Iowa State. Meanwhile UT lost a commitment when Converse, Texas/Judson safety Keivon Ramsey decided to re-open his recruiting process.


TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: The Red Raiders added a commitment from Humble (Texas) Atascocita receiver Quan Shorts. The three-star prospect flipped from Texas San Antonio to pledge to Kliff Kingsbury’s program.


WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 21
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Mountaineers offered Coconut Creek (Florida) Monarch receiver Cavin Ridley, the No. 264 player in the ESPN Junior 300. Miami (Fla.) and Temple have also offered Ridley, who is the younger brother of Alabama commitment Calvin Ridley, the No. 23 player in the ESPN 300.

Big 12's top recruiting visits 

November, 7, 2014
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With the month of November upon us, games are beginning to matter more. Even more so, recruiting visits are becoming more and more important.

There are four games on Saturday’s Big 12 schedule, and while the biggest game of the weekend won't host any official visits, look for two traditional powers to have huge official visit weekends. Additionally, be on the lookout for a couple of standout players giving coaches their verbal commitments.

Baylor at Oklahoma


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UA jersey tour: Malik Jefferson

November, 4, 2014
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MESQUITE, Texas -- As he sat with his family and his head coach during the Under Armour All-America Game jersey ceremony Tuesday morning, ESPN 300 linebacker Malik Jefferson thought about the road traveled to get to where he is as a football player.

In short, he described it as “a blessing,” and he thought about the people in his life who may have indirectly affected his football career. He thought about his older brother, Tarik Jefferson, a senior linebacker at North Texas.

To be an Under Armour All-American takes sacrifice -- and sacrifice is something Malik said he learned mostly from his big brother. On and off the field.

“He gave me the motivation to work hard,” said Jefferson, the nation’s No. 3 outside linebacker and No. 35 player overall in the 2015 ESPN 300. “I work hard on my own because he wanted to work hard by myself. I remember he would ask me to sit on his back while he did push-ups. He instilled hard work in me and showed me the way. I took notes from Day One. He’s quiet but a hard worker.”


Jefferson the student is now Jefferson the teacher as he prepares for college. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Jefferson is an absolute playmaker on the field. Few linebackers his size run the 40-yard dash in less than 4.5 seconds. He clocked a 4.39 at The Opening this summer in Oregon.

With more than 30 offers to choose from, Jefferson, a three-year starter for Poteet High School in Mesquite, Texas, is looking at schools such as Texas, Texas A&M, TCU and Baylor, as well as out-of-state schools Alabama, Oregon and Stanford. Jefferson will announce his college plans Dec. 19.

Tuesday’s ceremony, sponsored by American Family Insurance, was icing on the cake for an outstanding high school career.

“I’m very appreciative of everything, and it’s a blessing to know that [Under Armour is] recognizing my true talents,” Jefferson said. “I can’t wait to get there, have fun and compete against the best of the best.”

He then added: “Oh, and to work my tail off.”

Quick hits on Malik Jefferson:

Why do you wear your football number? “I wear No. 46 because of my big brother (Tarik). He wore it in high school, so I took after him.”

Best UA game player:Jadeveon Clowney. Or Julio Jones. He’s an animal.”

Favorite football player:Von Miller. He follows me on Twitter. I was excited when I got that follow.”

In any sport, which celebrity would you challenge? “Drake in basketball. He doesn’t have a jump shot.”

Did you know ... Jefferson is very active with his church. He is a part of a miming group that does a form of interpretive dance.

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