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Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Big 12 class rankings analysis

By Damon Sayles

West Virginia’s last commitment came on Aug. 6 when junior college inside linebacker Devante Averette (Iowa Falls, Iowa/Ellsworth Community College) gave Dana Holgorsen and his staff a verbal pledge. Since then, the Mountaineers have been on the outside looking in on the RecruitingNation class rankings.

With USC’s struggles, however, the Mountaineers have managed to sneak into the top 40. ESPN 300 defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central) recently parted ways with USC, and West Virginia has taken the Trojans’ spot in the rankings. Texas (No. 7), Baylor (No. 17), Oklahoma (No. 22), Oklahoma State (No. 29) and Texas Tech (No. 31) all held their spots in this week's update.

Trending up: Texas Tech is proving that you can win with young players. Led by a true freshman walk-on quarterback in Baker Mayfield, the Red Raiders are looking to score their biggest win of the year in a home game Thursday night against TCU. Texas Tech is hot right now; the Red Raiders have 18 commitments, and many others will be watching Thursday’s game on ESPN. A strong victory against TCU can help Texas Tech both offensively and defensively. Two players who will be keeping an eye on things are four-star running back Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter) and high three-star safety Payton Hendrix (Dallas/Bishop Dunne).

Trending down: July 25 was the last time Iowa State scored a verbal pledge. While the Cyclones have 12 commitments, they are still looking for their second four-star pledge. ESPN 300 receiver Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale) spearheaded the charge with a December commitment, but Paul Rhoads and his staff still have work to do from a recruiting standpoint. The Cyclones still have plenty of time to upgrade and can score big with home-game performances against in-state foe Iowa (Sept. 14) and upcoming conference opponents Texas (Oct. 3), Oklahoma State (Oct. 26) and TCU (Nov. 9).

One to watch: After a bad loss to BYU and the firing of Manny Diaz as defensive coordinator, Texas is a team many recruits -- committed and uncommitted -- are keeping an eye on. Defensive targets saw BYU run for 550 yards and compile almost 700 total yards against the Longhorns, but it’s a new week and the Longhorns now have a new defensive coordinator in Greg Robinson. Texas hosts Ole Miss this weekend, and a big win against the Rebels will help erase a week of turmoil for the Longhorns and their supporters.

Bold prediction: West Virginia cracked the top 40, and the Mountaineers will land a couple of junior college players to help boost them further in the rankings. Outside linebacker Edward Muldrow (Snellville, Ga./Copiah-Lincoln Community College) and cornerbacks Darius White (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley Community College) and Marcus Caffey (Council Bluffs, Iowa/Iowa Western Community College) all have strong interest in West Virginia. Landing one will give the Mountaineers a nice bump in the rankings. Landing all three could put them in or close to the top 30.