Friday, January 31, 2014
Key recruiting visits -- Big 12
By Damon Sayles
It’s the last week of official visits, which means one last chance for coaches to make an impact before national signing day.
While many athletes have decided where they want to play college football, there are still a few players looking to use this final week as a measuring stick. Here are eight players to keep an eye on as they make an official visit. Also included are two 2015 players who will make junior-day appearances.
1. OG Braden Smith (Olathe, Kan./Olathe South) Visiting: TCU
TCU will have to fight off Texas A&M and Auburn to land Braden Smith.
This is what TCU wanted. The ESPN 300 offensive lineman is considered the prize get for the Horned Frogs, and they will get his final official visit. Smith, No. 127 in the ESPN 300 and the top-ranked player in the state of Kansas, has TCU, Texas A&M and Auburn in his top three, and when it comes to favorites, he’s a tough player to judge. It could help TCU that his older sister Megan is a member of the Horned Frogs’ women’s track and field team.
Once an Arkansas commit, McBride can be a major pickup for TCU. The four-star wide receiver is taking an official visit to Fort Worth and has high regard for Gary Patterson and his coaching staff. McBride is qlso appreciative of how TCU kept in contact with him throughout his recruiting process. If the Horned Frogs can land him, they’ll get a top-50 receiver who can challenge for immediate playing time in the fall.
Avery is looking forward to a nice visit in Lawrence, and the Jayhawks fans would like what they see out of Avery, a versatile four-star back. The big question: Will the recent commitment of junior college running back De'Andre Mann (Salinas, Calif./Harnell Community College) -- which gives Kansas two running back pledges, along with four-star Traevohn Wrench (Gardner, Kan./Gardner Edgerton) -- serve as a major con in Avery’s decision-making process?
Texas has two interior linemen committed, but it could use a couple of offensive tackles in its 2014 class. Rodriguez, a three-star tackle, could fill that void. Rodriguez has been committed to Colorado since Aug. 23, but he will be in Austin for an official visit. The Longhorns could score big if they’re able to flip the 6-foot-6, 265-pound lineman, an athlete who plays larger than his frame.
Mosley had been committed to Arkansas since July, but he recently re-opened his recruitment and is looking at TCU. The three-star prospect can play multiple positions, which is one reason why the Horned Frogs are intrigued by him. For a smaller athlete at 5-9 and 152 pounds, Mosley is deceptively strong. He is high school teammates with Corey McBride, and both athletes could find homes in Fort Worth after this weekend.
6. LB Willie Harvey (St. Augustine, Fla./Menendez) Visiting: Iowa State
Normally, it’s tough to sway a recently committed player, but Iowa State feels strongly about landing Harvey. The linebacker committed to Southern Mississippi on Jan. 21, but the Cyclones have not stopped recruiting him and could use another linebacker in the class. If Harvey flips to Iowa State, he will only be the third linebacker commit -- which could work in his advantage for getting early playing time.
7. ATH D'Cota Dixon (New Smyrna Beach, Fla./New Smyrna Beach) Visiting: West Virginia
With nearly 20 reported offers, Dixon is one of those players who can boost a team’s recruiting class in the 11th hour. A player with a very high motor, Dixon can play cornerback, running back or wide receiver at the next level -- the kind of player that would fit perfectly in Dana Holgorsen’s system. Dixon has taken visits to Michigan State and Wisconsin, but his trip to Morgantown could be the one to ultimately make up his mind.
8. DT David Moala (San Diego, Calif./Cerritos College) Visiting: Kansas State
Any additional gets for Kansas State will be considered a bonus, and Moala would be a nice addition for the Wildcats’ defensive line. At 6-2 and 310 pounds, Moala can be a very disruptive run-stopper in the Big 12. The three-star lineman also has Oregon State high on his list, as his cousin, the late Tevita Moala, played for the Beavers, but Kansas State has been recruiting him the longest.
This weekend is huge for Oklahoma as it hosts its first junior day. Barnett, No. 10 in the ESPN Junior 300, is a big fan of the Sooners and what they have to offer. He’s the top-ranked player in the state of Oklahoma, and if the Sooners play their cards right, they will have a major addition to the 2015 class. Barnett plays tackle for his high school but is considered the nation’s No. 1 offensive guard prospect by ESPN scouts.
The Sooners are excited about Jamabo’s presence, as he defines everything they want in a running back. He has great size at 6-3 and 200 pounds and has good speed and explosiveness. More importantly, Jamabo still has room for improvement. Jamabo, No. 45 in the ESPN Junior 300, is the No. 5 running back in the country, and Oklahoma is hoping to make a huge impression on him and get his talents north of the Red River.