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Tuesday, January 21, 2014
5 to watch: Big 12 signing day preview

By Damon Sayles

National signing day is in 15 days, and while many athletes have finalized their college plans, several questions remain. Will the committed players stay committed? Will the Big 12 programs steal away some of the top players? Will the world be surprised by last-minute changes?

There will be several storylines to watch from now until signing day, but here are five to definitely keep your eyes on:

1. How many more ESPN 300 players can Oklahoma get?

Steven Parker
Steven Parker would be a big gain for the Sooners' defense.
The Sooners have 22 players verbally committed, and if all works out the way they hope, they could finish the class with two or three more big-time targets. Safety Steven Parker II (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) and cornerback Kendall Randolph (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln) are two ESPN 300 athletes many believe will sign to play in Norman, Okla. While Parker and Randolph both are gems, five-star cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), ranked No. 9 in the ESPN 300, would be a monster land for the Sooners.

2. Will the Kansas State-Nebraska flips continue?

On Sunday, Kansas State managed to flip former Nebraska commit Terrell Clinkscales (Dodge City, Kan./Dodge City Community College), the No. 17 player in the ESPN Junior College 50 and the No. 4 junior college defensive tackle in the country. Now the big question is, can Nebraska flip Kansas State outside linebacker commit Elijah Lee (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs)? The Cornhuskers have shown a major interest in the three-star prospect, and some believe it’s only a matter of time before he chooses not to sign with Kansas State.

3. Can Texas land former Louisville commits?

When Charlie Strong left Louisville to take over at Texas, two things were expected. First, some Texas commits would find new homes. Second, some Louisville commits would find new homes. Strong is hoping to add a couple of former Louisville commits, particularly ESPN 300 defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head Island, S.C./Hilton Head) and three-star defensive tackle Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Victory Christian Academy).

4. Will TCU get Braden Smith’s commitment?

TCU is still in the hunt for Smith, an ESPN 300 offensive lineman, but so are Texas A&M, Auburn and a few other schools. The Olathe (Kan.) South standout, ranked No. 127 in the ESPN 300, is fresh off an official visit to Auburn, and he’s expected to visit Texas A&M this weekend. TCU, however, is his last visit -- the weekend of Jan. 31 -- and this could be a huge advantage for the Horned Frogs. Smith is the top-ranked player in Kansas, and he will definitely boost whichever recruiting class he chooses for signing day.

5. Will Thomas-Williams be No. 5 for West Virginia?

West Virginia has four ESPN 300 commitments and 20 total as of right now. Many believe that high-profile running back Donte Thomas-Williams (Durham, N.C./Hillside) will be the Mountaineers’ fifth ESPN 300 pledge. Thomas-Williams has West Virginia, North Carolina State and Florida State high on his list, but after a very successful official visit to Morgantown, W.Va., over the weekend, the Mountaineers are hoping for some good news soon. Look for Thomas-Williams to announce his decision sometime after his official visit to North Carolina State this weekend.