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Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Most important Big 12 recruiting targets

By Damon Sayles

As recruiting dips its toe into the fall season, many uncommitted players are beginning to shorten their lists in preparation for upcoming big college announcements. All of the Big 12 schools could use help -- or add depth -- at multiple positions, but there are a few players who are considered primary targets for the 2014 class.

Here is a look at some of the most important targets for each Big 12 program.

QB Randall Cunningham II (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman)
6-foot-5, 180 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: n/a
Baylor is still sitting pretty at 23 commits. The Bears also are still without a quarterback commitment for the 2014 class. While Baylor can look to adding interior offensive linemen and members of the secondary, it must address the only player position guaranteed to touch the ball every offensive play. The son of the former NFL quarterback, Cunningham is a dual-threat option who can use his athleticism and track and field skills to his advantage. Sound familiar?

Iowa State
OLB Nile Sykes (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic)
6-foot-2, 219 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: n/a
The Cyclones are allowing 223 rushing yards per game, and they gave up 218 yards against Iowa on Saturday. A run stopper is needed. A run stopper who also can play the pass well would be an even better pickup. Sykes, who can line up on the ball but should see a solid college future as a linebacker, can be that kind of player for the Cyclones. The program, however, will have to out-recruit schools such as Illinois, Syracuse and Indiana to land him.

DT D.J. Williams (Lufkin, Texas/Lufkin)
6-foot-3, 270 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: n/a
Kansas statistically has the Big 12’s top-ranked passing defense. The Jayhawks are looking to better their rush defense, and a player like Williams can do wonders for the future of the defensive scheme. Williams is a strong, explosive lineman who enjoys battling in the trenches. There isn’t a lot of flash in his game, which makes him a decent fit for Kansas’ businesslike attitude under Charlie Weis. The bigger question: Can Kansas nab Williams over schools such as Oklahoma, Missouri and Miami?

Kansas State
LB Errol Clarke II (Miami/Garden City Community College)
6-foot-3, 240 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: n/a
Here’s a great opportunity for Kansas State. The Wildcats already have a commitment from juco outside linebacker D’Vonta Derricott, and it’s very possible they could score another Garden City target in Clarke -- if they offer him. Clarke does not have a Kansas State offer yet, but he visited Manhattan, Kan., unofficially over the weekend and enjoyed the experience. If Kansas State offers, it will have to battle Wisconsin, South Florida, Cincinnati and Georgia State for Clarke.

OT Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton)
6-foot-6, 290 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 38
The Sooners picked up a solid interior lineman in guard Jonathan Alvarez (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) on Sept. 10. Tucker would be not only the Sooners’ first offensive tackle pledge but also the program’s highest-ranked recruit of the 2014 class. Tucker can play tackle or guard, but if he fills out, he can be electric as a pass defender on the ends. Many feel Tucker will play college closer to home, but Oklahoma has a great reputation of landing players from the West Coast.

Oklahoma State
S Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks)
6-foot-2, 175 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 237
If Baylor isn’t the most talked-about team for its play in the Big 12 right now, Oklahoma State may hold that honor. The Cowboys have looked just as impressive on the defensive side of the ball as they have on offense. Parker can be a huge asset to a secondary that already features ESPN 300 cornerback Chris Hardeman (Houston/Alief Taylor). Parker already has Oklahoma State high on his list. His high teammate, three-star safety Dylan Harding, committed to the Cowboys on July 31.

DE Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/Martin)
6-foot-5, 247 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 7
Many feel the race for Garrett comes down to Texas A&M, Alabama and Ohio State, but TCU is very much in the hunt for the nation’s No. 2 defensive end and the top-ranked player in Texas. TCU is roughly 15 minutes away from Garrett’s home, and the opportunity to see loads of playing time early is evident. A physical specimen, Garrett also can be swayed by the fact that TCU’s been very good recently at putting defensive players in the NFL. The idea of him choosing TCU isn’t a far-fetched one.

DE Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell)
6-foot-3, 256 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 31
It’s no secret that Texas’ defense is going through tough times. That could mean good things for defensive players in the Class of 2014, and Thomas is good enough to come to Austin and see significant game time as a freshman. The Longhorns are desperate for run stoppers, and Thomas is one of the best in the 2014 class. Texas, however, will have to win him over against powerhouses such as Stanford, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.

Texas Tech
OT Drew Sarvary (Tallahassee, Fla./Tyler Junior College)
6-foot-7, 310 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: n/a
Texas Tech has a good crop of receivers and a highly touted quarterback in Patrick Mahomes (Whitehouse, Texas/Whitehouse) to support its 2014 class. It has three offensive tackles committed, but a player like Sarvary is hard to pass up -- particularly when he plays a position so in demand for a high-octane offense like the one the Red Raiders have. Sarvary has offers from Memphis, East Carolina, South Florida and North Texas, but the Red Raiders are in a good position to land him.

West Virginia
ATH Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa)
5-foot-11, 181 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 131
Henry is the No. 1 player in Pennsylvania for a reason. West Virginia ranks very high on Henry’s list, joining Ohio State, Penn State and Pittsburgh. He’s got great speed, versatility and can be a playmaker in the secondary. He’s a huge target for West Virginia, as he has visited the Mountaineers a few times already. The idea of playing against the up-tempo Big 12 offenses makes West Virginia an intriguing choice, and Henry is ready for the challenge.