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Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Big 12 class rankings analysis

By William Wilkerson

A rough opening week for defending conference champion Kansas State could keep it from sniffing the top 40 of the ESPN class rankings.

The five Big 12 schools in the ESPN class rankings stayed put with Texas at No. 7, Baylor at No. 17, Oklahoma at No. 22, Oklahoma State at No. 29 and Texas Tech at No. 31.

Here is a look at where the Wildcats go from here and a few more notes concerning the Big 12:

Trending up: We all know how potent Oklahoma State’s offense has been under the direction of coach Mike Gundy. But you haven’t been able to say the same about the Pokes’ defense. One week into the season, though, it is OSU’s defense that has people talking after it held Mississippi State to a field goal in a 21-3 victory on Saturday. If the Cowboys can continue this defensive effort, they could add to an already impressive group of 2014 defensive commits that includes linebacker Josh Mabin (Spring/Klein Oak) and cornerback Chris Hardeman (Houston/Taylor).

Trending down: Kansas State was one of the hottest recruiting programs in the Big 12 a month ago. But that is likely to change after a head-scratching 24-21 loss at home to North Dakota State on Saturday. The defending Big 12 champions can save face, but they’ll have to do it against three of the Big 12’s best when the Wildcats start conference play on Sept. 21 at Texas. They will follow that up with a road game at Oklahoma State, then a home game against a very good Baylor team. The good news for K-State: Home games against Louisiana-Lafayette and Massachusetts that should get its confidence up before a trip to Austin.

One to watch: Four-star safety John Bonney (Houston/Lamar) could be getting closer to making a decision. The two schools that appear to be in the best position are Texas and Baylor. Bonney, the No. 21 safety in the country, has visited both campuses multiple times, including a surprise visit to Texas a few weeks ago. But the Longhorns already have a commitment from safety Jason Hall. Will that affect Bonney's decision? Bonney has always liked Baylor and has had a good relationship with coach Art Briles since Briles' days at Houston.

Bold prediction: The Big 12 will have six schools with class rankings in the top 40. Texas will have the highest-rated class followed by Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and TCU. The Horned Frogs are the only one of these schools not ranked in the top 40, but that will change with the additions of Braden Smith (Olathe, Kan./Olathe South) and at least one more ESPN 300 recruit.