Monday, February 24, 2014
Top position classes: Big 12
By Gerry Hamilton
With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes in each conference. For the full series, click here.
Quarterback The TCU Horned Frogs signed two of the Lone Star State’s top 2014 QBs in four-star Foster Sawyer (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal) and three-star Grayson Muehlstein (Decatur, Texas/Decatur). While the question remains about what TCU’s newly revamped scheme will look like under new coaches Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, both Sawyer and Muehlstein have great size with the desired arm strength and playmaking ability.
Running back To say the Oklahoma Sooners made the most of the impressive Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama on the recruiting trail would be an understatement, and that includes the very important running back position. One of those big-time prospects who jumped on board after the momentum-grabbing victory was No. 53 Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom). The 6-foot-1, 209-pound back, in the mold of former Sooners star DeMarco Murray, is equally adept out of the backfield as he is taking a handoff, and has the ability to team with sophomore-to-be Keith Ford to form a formidable duo in future years. A second back in the class is ESPN 300 prospect Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson). Perine is the power back in the class to go with the skill and versatility of Mixon.
Tight end Oklahoma addressed many needs with its top-15 recruiting class, and that certainly includes the tight end position. Coach Bob Stoops and his staff signed a trio of tight ends, including ESPN 300s No. 277 Carson Meier (Tulsa, Okla./Union) and No. 295 Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain), as well as three-star junior college prospect Isaac Ijalana (Mount Holly, N.J./Pierce College). All three players have terrific size of at least 6-foot-5, and Meier and Andrews possess the frame to add mass and strength. Meier has good initial burst and above-average ball skills, while Andrews has excellent hand-eye coordination and the ability to beat linebackers and safeties with regularity.
Wide receiver If not for LSU, Baylor would have had the top group of wide receivers in the country. Art Briles and his staff continue to identify and bring in speed at the position, and their 2014 class is as impressive as any. How talented is this group? All three wide receivers signed are ESPN 300 prospects, and No. 4 ranked athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau) also will begin his career on offense. The headliner is No. 30 overall K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), who is a blend of instincts, timing, quickness and smooth and natural movement. Pure speed comes from No. 231 Ishmael Zamora (Alief, Texas/Elsik) and No. 294 Chris Platt (Willis, Texas/Willis). Zamora and Platt can be seen this spring defending multiple track state titles won as juniors.
Offensive line Oklahoma put together a very impressive class on offense, and that includes the offensive line. The Sooners inked six linemen on Feb. 5, and each position on the front is included. Four-star Alex Dalton (Troy, Ohio/Troy) is the nation's No. 6 center, while four-star Natrell Curtis (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe) is the No. 23 guard. Signing day was particularly good for Bob Stoops and his staff with the addition of high three-star tackles Kenyon Frison (West Valley City, Utah/Granger) and Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge) signing LOIs. Oklahoma also made the most of its Sugar Bowl win over Alabama by grabbing one of New Orleans' best offensive guards in three-star Joseph Paul (New Orleans/Saint Augustine). And the depth in this class comes from three-star guard Jonathan Alvarez (Mesquite, Texas/Horn). The six linemen are from six different states, so the Sooners flexed their national-brand muscles.
Defensive line The early going for defensive line recruiting was tough for new Texas coach Charlie Strong. But the Longhorns closed strong with a key area of need at tackle. No. 266 prospect Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) picked the Longhorns on signing day, as did three-star Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Kathleen). While Ford might lack ideal measurables and Nelson may not have the playing experience at the position, both are solid athletes. A third defensive tackle Jake McMillon (Abilene, Texas/Abilene) could be a swing player who has a nose for the ball. At end, Texas signed a potential impact pass rusher in the fall in No. 78 recruit Derick Roberson (San Antonio/Brennan).
Defensive backs As is the case annually, the Longhorns have signed an impressive group of defensive backs. In 2014, the Longhorns went outside the state line to sign ESPN 300 No. 250 Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), who is undersized but has natural cover skills and finishing ball skills. At safety, coach Charlie Strong held onto four-star safety John Bonney (Houston/Lamar), who is born leader with a high football IQ. A second safety, three-star Jason Hall (Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie), brings size and range. ESPN 300 wide receiver Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City) could potentially get a look at corner.
Linebackers Texas continues to address speed and athleticism at linebacker in the spread-dominant Big 12. In 2014, the Longhorns signed a pair of quick and athletic four-star prospects in ESPN 300 No. 128 Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie) and inside prospect Cameron Hampton (Dallas/Carter). A third linebacker in the class is high three-star Andrew Beck (Tampa, Fla./Plant), and three-star running back D’Onta Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City) could also get a look on the outside.
Athletes Oklahoma not only signed four talented athletes on Feb. 5, it also picked up four prospects who project at different positions. The Sooners continued to work effectively in Northern California, pulling in ESPN 300 No. 75 Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central East), who figures to play wide receiver and return punts and kickoffs. High three-star Jordan Thomas (Klein, Texas/Klein Collins) figures to land at safety, while three-star Tito Windham (Gulfport, Miss./Harrison Central) will play cornerback and 6-foot-3, 219-pound Dimitri Flowers (San Antonio, Texas/Churchill) will play flex tight end or H-back.