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Monday, January 13, 2014
Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12

By Damon Sayles

With a little more than three weeks until signing day, schools are now in the 11th hour of recruiting for 2014 targets. While some programs will try to land the big fish still uncommitted, other programs will try to make some commits have a change of heart just in time for the Feb. 5 signing day.

Texas picked up junior college tight end Blake Whiteley (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada/Arizona Western College), but the Longhorns losing three defensive lineman commitments proved to be the talk of last week. Oklahoma, however, managed to add two to its growing class and Kansas State and Texas Tech also got big-time commitments. Expect a lot more fireworks this week, as several athletes will take game-changing official visits.
Here are some of this past week’s highlights:

Biggest commitment: Few commits last week were bigger -- or arguably more shocking -- than ESPN 300 cornerback Nigel Bethel II (Miami/Booker T. Washington), who switched his pledge from Miami to Texas Tech. The 5-foot-9, 172-pound cornerback became the Red Raiders’ first ESPN 300 commit, and he’ll offer immediate help for Kliff Kingsbury’s secondary. Bethel, No. 233 in the ESPN 300 and the nation’s 19th-ranked cornerback, is a true cover corner, and in the Big 12, defenders of his caliber are always welcomed.

Biggest offer: Oklahoma had a good week picking up two interior linemen in four-star guard Natrell Curtis (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe) and three-star guard Joseph Paul (New Orleans/St. Augustine). The Sooners have put several other offers on the table this past week, but for the benefit of the future, Isaiah Langley (Pleasanton, Calif./Foothill) may be the most intriguing of the bunch. Langley, an ESPN Junior 300 wide receiver, already has 10 offers, and the Sooners -- who have a great reputation of landing talent from the West Coast -- are looking to continue that trend with Langley.

Biggest answer: Prior to this past week, Kansas State was still looking for its first 2014 commit of the new year. Some asked if the Wildcats were going to land any more players with star potential. Enter three-star outside linebacker Justin Hughes (Tucker, Ga./Tucker), a player who combines athleticism with a physical toughness that is well enough to get him some playing time as a freshman. Hughes is the Wildcats’ fourth outside linebacker commit, but a lot will be expected out of the 6-foot-1, 205-pound athlete.

Biggest question: With this week expected to be the week Charlie Strong finalizes his coaching staff, many are wondering if Texas’ Big 12-leading recruiting class will continue to take hits. The Longhorns lost three four-star defensive tackle commits last week in Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren), Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/St. Augustine) and Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview). With the loss of well-liked defensive assistants Bo Davis and Duane Akina, the big questions are simple: Can Strong and his new staff keep his players committed? Will Strong be able to flip some of his Louisville commits to Texas?