NCF On The Trail: Baylor Bears

video
With the Big 12 football season kicking off in a few weeks, college recruits will be focused on setting up official visits and also narrowing their college lists in preparation for a commitment. As important as this time will be for recruits, it’ll be equally important for schools, as they prepare for a season that, with solid performances in home-game environments, can assist in landing some of the best uncommitted prospects around.

Here are some names that the Big 12 schools will be pursuing throughout the fall.

video
The new ESPN 300 features 22 players currently committed to Big 12 programs. Texas leads the conference race with seven commits, while Oklahoma is next with five. Texas Tech has the conference’s highest-ranked ESPN 300 player in quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who is ranked No. 38 and is the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country.

Here are five things to know in the Big 12:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

DALLAS -- Winning football games holds top billing in most cases, but when discussing the most important objective to college football coaches, a great recruiting class is always high on the totem pole.

The Big 12 media days on Monday and Tuesday gave coaches a chance to share their opinions on their teams, their competitors and the future of college football. It also allowed each coach to talk about the positives and negatives of recruiting.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
1:30
PM ET
The Big 12's head coaches are in Dallas today for Big 12 media days, but that doesn't mean they aren't busy as usual recruiting like crazy. The latest on each Big 12 program's recruiting efforts:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Bears are capitalizing on their 2013 success in a big way for the future: Baylor might have the nation's top 2016 recruiting class at this point with six verbal pledges. Baylor landed one of its most impressive victories in a long time Friday when offensive tackle Patrick Hudson, a top-20 prospect for 2016, flipped to BU after being committed to Texas A&M for nearly four months. But that's not all. Art Briles and his staff also landed receiver Tren'Davian Dickson and local defensive back Eric Cuffee this weekend and locked up a big-time talent last week in ESPN Junior 300 running back Kameron Martin.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: We mentioned him in last week's Big 12 scorecard, and the big week is finally here. Running back Devine Ozigbo is set to announce his commitment on Tuesday at 2 p.m., and trimmed his list of 20 offense down to three: Iowa, Iowa State and Boise State. The three-star back is a top-100 recruit in the state of Texas and would be an important get for the Cyclones who could play right away for them.

KANSAS
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: When you're able to get a player as talented as receiver Kevin Thomas on campus, you've got to lock him up. The Jayhawks did just that last week, securing a commitment from the three-star wideout from Texas powerhouse DeSoto High School, during his unofficial visit. Thomas chose KU over offers from the likes of Wisconsin, Nebraska and Clemson and is now KU's highest-rated pledge.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcat's newest commitment came from three-star defensive end Josh Little of Oklahoma City Millwood. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound lineman picked KSU over a handful of offers, including from Arizona State, Purdue, Washington State and Iowa State. Little hails from the same high school that produced All-Big 12 receiver Tyler Lockett and racked up 76 tackles and five sacks as a junior.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Former Sooners commit defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin has set a decision date for Sept. 15, and he still has OU in his final three. The three-star recruit from Houston Cypress Falls is down to OU, Texas and LSU. While Texas is currently in the lead, Lampkin is planning to give the Sooners one last chance to sway him with his official visit for the Sept. 13 game against Tennessee.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Three-star offensive tackle Joshua Jones released his top five this weekend and Oklahoma State made the list along with TCU, Texas Tech, Purdue and Wake Forest. The big 6-foot-6, 271-pound lineman hails from Bush High School in the Houston area, and it wouldn't be a surprise if this comes down to an OSU-TCU battle.

TCU
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: TCU landed its first verbal commit for the class of 2016, from defensive end Jonathan Marshall, during its final summer camp. The Shepherd, Texas, standout is 6-foot-3 and 256 pounds and had early offers from Oklahoma State and North Texas. It's possible another commitment could come Monday from three-star DeSoto (Texas) defensive tackle Bryce English, a former Texas commit who is set to choose between TCU, Arkansas, Arizona State and UCLA.

TEXAS
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Texas did not land any new commitments off its inaugural "Under The Lights" camp on Friday, but ESPN Junior 300 offensive tackle J.P. Urquidez came close to announcing a decision Saturday and has Texas and Baylor at the top of his list. The Longhorns also hosted a critical unofficial visit from four-star QB Kai Locksley and his father, Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley. He's set to make a commitment to either UT, Florida State or Maryland during his season opener.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Red Raiders got a big opportunity recently to ensure one of their top commits stays in the fold. Three-star running back Corey Dauphine, who has long been rumored to be considering a flip to Texas A&M or Baylor, took an unofficial visit to Lubbock and went home saying he felt 100-percent solid with his commitment. Dauphine could still take a trip to A&M in early August, but this was a big step in the right direction for Tech's chances.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: WVU's newest pledge should be a familiar name: Three-star QB David Sills. As a 13-year-old, he made a (very) early commitment to USC and then-coach Lane Kiffin. He went back on the market this year -- he didn't have much of a relationship with Steve Sarkisian -- and the Mountaineers won out for the standout from Eastern Christian Academy in Maryland. Stills is up to 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds and should be a fairly polished passer when he arrives in Morgantown after years of training with famed QB coach Steve Clarkson.
Baylor fans were beyond excited July 15 when ESPNJr300 No. 133 Kameron Martin committed, adding more speed to the Bears program. The excitement went to a whole other level July 18 when Art Briles and staff flipped one of 2016’s best, No. 20 prospect Patrick Hudson, from Texas A&M.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Baylor continues to be a trailblazer in the state of Texas at the skill positions. After securing a commitment from 2016 top quarterback target Zach Smith on June 1, Art Briles and staff struck again July 15, picking up a verbal pledge from speedy ESPN Junior 300 No. 133 running back Kameron Martin.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
1:30
PM ET
The latest on what's happening on the recruiting trail in the Big 12 as we wind down summer camp and 7-on-7 season and inch closer and closer to putting the pads back on.

BAYLOR
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Longtime Baylor commit ATH Blake Lynch transferred to Gilmer (Texas) High School, a big-time East Texas program, this summer and is trying his hand at a new role. The former Troup (Texas) quarterback played wide receiver at the Texas state 7-on-7 tournament this past weekend, and that's the position our ESPN scouts see him playing in college. Lynch's commitment to BU remains solid.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: RB Devine Ozigbo of Sachse, Texas, is set to announce his commitment next Tuesday and is down to eight schools on his list: Iowa State, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Wisconsin, Boise State, Boston College and Mississippi State. The Cyclones are selling him on the chance to be the only rusher they take in their 2015 class, but ISU's top competition for Ozigbo might be its in-state rival.

KANSAS
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: ESPN 300 running back Tyreik Gray told our Damon Sayles this past weekend he wants to take official visits to Kansas, Oklahoma and Louisville before deciding on signing day. Gray is also expected to take an unofficial visit to Texas on Friday. Gray transferred to powerhouse Houston Lamar this spring and is being recruited as a RB/DB by most schools.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats' newest commitment came from ILB Chase Johnston. The Carl Junction, Missouri, native impressed enough at a K-State camp this summer to earn an offer, running an impressive 4.6-second 40 at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds. Johnston also went to Arkansas and Missouri camps this summer and made a strong impression, but KSU was his first and only scholarship offer.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: The Sooners appear to be in the lead now for ESPN 300 offensive tackle Madison Akamnonu of Arlington (Texas) Bowie, and he could be closing in on a decision soon. The 6-foot-5 lineman's father attended OU, and this is likely going to come down to a Texas-Oklahoma decision for the rising four-star. For what it's worth, two of Akamnonu's high school teammates have already committed to TCU.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Pokes are out in front for a sleeper wide receiver out of Louisiana. Don't be surprised if OSU locks up a pledge from Jalen McCleskey of Covington (Louisiana) St. Paul's in the near future. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound wideout has visited Stillwater several times and could end up being OSU's first WR pledge for 2015.

TCU
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: TCU is one of two early offers for Plano (Texas) Prestonwood linebacker Deonte Williams. Baylor has also joined the mix with an offer for the teammate of ESPN Junior 300 receiver Michael Irvin Jr., and Williams is planning to camp at Florida State soon. The Horned Frogs already got Williams on campus this summer and are in good shape so far.

TEXAS
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Texas hosts its first-ever "Under The Lights" camp on Friday night inside Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, and a star-studded turnout is expected. Among those planning to attend are all 11 commits in this class and reportedly as many as 25-plus members of the ESPN 300 for 2015 and 2016, highlighted by WR Ryan Newsome, CB Holton Hill, CB Kris Boyd and possibly OLB Malik Jefferson. Top QB targets Kai Locksley (2015) and Shea Patterson (2016) will also be on campus.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: Texas Tech had just two of its commits qualify for Nike's The Opening in Oregon, but both were stellar. QB Jarrett Stidham finished in seventh place in the final Elite 11 standings and DT Breiden Fehoko proved he's one of the nation's strongest linemen with an event-best 42 reps of 185 pounds on the bench press. Both will play in the Under Armour All-America Game after their senior season.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: LB Riley Nicholson is expected to make his decision this week, and the Mountaineers are finalists along with UCF and NC State. The Kissimmee (Florida) Osceola standout visited all three schools multiple times during his recruitment, but UCF's rise to prominence in 2013 might be the difference-maker in this battle.
LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- There was plenty of recruiting news that came out of Monday's reporting day for The Opening. One of the prospects who shared the latest was ESPN 300 No. 39 Malik Jefferson.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

With the dead period hitting last week and coaches taking much-needed vacations, the recruiting trail is as quiet as it gets during the year during the next week or so. Here’s the latest in recruiting around the Big 12:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Bears have had a couple of decommits in recent weeks but are still in terrific shape at the skill positions. Adding some beef up front, particularly along the offensive line, will be key for Baylor as this recruiting cycle progresses.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones' recruiting class looks much better today than it did early last month with Paul Rhoads' program landing five commitments in June including Austin (Texas) Westlake quarterback Dominic DeLira. It will be important for the Cyclones to hold off other suitors for DeLira and build this class around him now that he is on their commit list.

KANSAS
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks added another junior college commitment when Trinity Valley Community College (Texas) defensive back L.B. Bates picked KU on June 29. Bates is a 6-foot, 175-pounder who is originally from Allen, Texas, and can play cornerback or safety.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: K-State has two commitments from Georgia -- running back Kalin Heath and Isaiah Zuber -- among their six total commitments. Bill Snyder’s program is one of many Big 12 schools that have recognized the opportunity to land overlooked hidden gems in SEC country.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: OU added alternate uniforms last week, with an eye on giving its recruiting a boost while maintaining its tradition. Several recruits liked the move, which had been in the works since last year with the help of former players Trey Millard, Aaron Colvin and Gabe Ikard contributing to the design.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Cowboys are off to a solid start on the recruiting trail, particularly at the skill positions. Nacogdoches (Texas) cornerback Jaylon Lane, a current Cowboys commit, is at The Opening this week and is considered one of the top cornerbacks in the nation.

TCU
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Horned Frogs might be in the best shape of any Big 12 school with more than half of its recruiting class already secured. TCU, which doesn’t have a ESPN300 member on its commit list, can now focus on rounding out its class with elite signees.

TEXAS
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: The Longhorns are in solid shape along the offensive front with three offensive linemen on their commit list including ESPN300 members Toby Weathersby of Houston, Texas/Westfield and Patrick Vahe of Euless, Texas/Trinity.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: Kliff Kingsbury’s program got terrific news last week when ESPN300 defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko of Honolulu, Hawaii/Farrington decided he would not take any more recruiting trips and is 100 percent committed to the Red Raiders. He will also take part in The Opening this week.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers are late to the party but WVU threw its hat into the mix in the race to sign elite Class of 2017 prospect Anthony Hines III of Plano, Texas/East. Hines has 43 total offers but has been committed to Mississippi State since Oct. 13.
BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was one of the many high-profile college and NFL quarterbacks on hand Sunday at the Elite 11 quarterback competition on Nike's campus. Bradford said he was impressed with the play of a number of the quarterbacks, but he did have some candid advice for the recruits that have yet to make their college decisions. Plus, one college quarterback really made a big impression on No. 3 dual-threat quarterback Deondre Francois and Monday's schedule features more work at the Elite 11.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
1:30
PM ET
Here's the latest in recruiting around the Big 12 as summer camp season winds down and new commitments keep rolling in:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: Believe it or not, Baylor is already running out of room in a 2015 class that should be smaller than usual. The Bears picked up pledge No. 11 from a sleeper defensive back, Montrel Wilson of Keller (Texas) Fossil Ridge, last week. Depending on which position its "athlete" commits play, BU already has five or six defenders on board. They'll keep pursing ESPN 300 prospects such as OLB Malik Jefferson and CB Holton Hill, but the numbers game is going to get tricky for Art Briles' staff in the coming months.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 5
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Iowa State landed its quarterback for the 2015 class on Friday in Austin (Texas) Lake Travis dual-threat Dominic DeLira. He comes from the same prestigious program that produced Garrett Gilbert, Baker Mayfield, Michael Brewer and Todd Reesing, who had an awful lot of success at Kansas playing under new ISU OC Mark Mangino. The Cyclones also locked up a pledge from in-state DE Seth Nerness this weekend and has now picked up four pledges in June.

KANSAS
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Kansas followed up an impressive five-pledge haul from juco prospects last week with one more from Los Angeles Harbor College WR Cory Butler, who flipped his commitment from Utah to KU. But the Jayhawks should be far more excited about a (very) late add to their 2014 class: OT Larry Mazyck. The 6-foot-7, 340-pound lineman signed with Maryland out of Iowa Western C.C. but did not qualify, clearing the way for him to end up at KU. He'll join the program this summer and could be a starter-quality contributor immediately if he's in shape and a quick learner.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 4
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Soon after locking up Nebraska offensive lineman Adam Holtorf, Kansas State picked up a second line pledge from three-star tackle Scott Frantz out of KU's backyard. The Lawrence (Kan.) Free State prospect is now the Wildcats' highest-rated pledge, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound lineman who picked KSU over Missouri and KU.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Oklahoma has no pledges but a lot of exciting possibilities at receiver. OU did make the top five that ESPN 300 WR Ryan Newsome released on Saturday, along with Texas, Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame. Texas has been considered the favorite for Newsome for a while, but it might be wide open now following Newsome's unofficial visit to Oregon. The Sooners will continue to make a hard run at flipping the top-rated recruit in Baylor's class, ESPN 300 WR John Humphrey Jr.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Cowboys' class grew to eight with the addition of Za'Carrius Green, a safety/linebacker from Duncanville, Texas, who turned down offers from Texas Tech, Kansas State, Kansas and Iowa State. Oklahoma State had yet to extend an offer, but one recent commit worth keeping an eye on is WR Dahu Green. The three-star in-state recruit is a big 6-foot-4 target and committed to Louisville last week. He'd likely have some thinking to do if either in-state Big 12 school made an offer in the near future.

TCU
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: TCU is one of only 10 programs in FBS with 16 or more pledges, a list that includes Alabama, Clemson, Texas A&M, Penn State and other heavy hitters. Its most recent commitments came from Arlington (Texas) Bowie CB Niko Small and Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints kicker Jonathan Song. Small ran a 4.44 40 time at camp and hails from the program previously coached by TCU corners coach Kenny Perry. Song's offer from TCU is to grayshirt, so he'll continue to seek full scholarship offers and recently camped at UCLA.

TEXAS
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: New offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Wickline has three four-star linemen on board so far and is looking for the final pieces to his 2015 puzzle. The Longhorns extended new offers last week to Houston North Shore center Tyler Moore and Coppell (Texas) three-star tackle Connor Williams. ESPN 300 tackles Madison Akamnonu and Jerry Tillery (a Notre Dame commit) and four-star Garrett Thomas have also been offered and are still on the radar.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: RB Corey Dauphine was not a coveted big-time recruit when he committed to Texas Tech in February, but interest in the three-star back from Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial has picked up significantly ever since. He's expected to make a "final" decision in the next few weeks and is considered a soft commit at this point. If he doesn't stick with Tech, Dauphine is going with Texas A&M or Baylor.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers recently added two linemen to the fold in Oviedo, Fla., nose tackle Alec Shriner and Belmont (Ohio) Union Local tackle Colton McKivitz, who'd been previously committed to Miami (Ohio). Shriner is also capable of playing center or guard on offense if necessary.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

June, 16, 2014
Jun 16
1:30
PM ET
Here's the latest in recruiting around the Big 12, with several programs seeing their commit list grow during the past week:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Baylor offered Class of 2016 standout Shane Simmons, a defensive end from Hyattsville (Maryland) DeMatha. The Bears joined West Virginia, Arizona State, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee and others on his offer list. Baylor also joined the race for elite 2017 prospect Anthony Hines III of Plano (Texas). Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and Kansas are among the 20-plus teams who have offered Hines, who has committed to Mississippi State.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 3
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones have been on a roll on the recruiting trail, landing Waukee (Iowa) defensive end Anthony Nelson early last week, just days after Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Prairie offensive lineman Bryce Meeker joined Iowa State's pledge list. At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Nelson is a lean defensive line prospect with plenty of room to grow.

KANSAS
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Kansas' commit list exploded over the weekend with five junior college standouts picking the Jayhawks, according to KUsports.com. Charlie Weis’ program secured verbals from offensive lineman Jarek Smalley of Garden City (Kansas) Community College, defensive tackle Jacky Dezir of College of DuPage (Illinois), offensive lineman DeLonte Murray of Lackawanna (Pennsylvania) Community College, offensive lineman Will Smith of Butler County (Kansas) Community College and receiver Raeshawn Lee of College of San Mateo (California). It’s pretty clear new offensive coordinator John Reagan wants to upgrade the talent along the offensive line.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 3
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: K-State landed a commitment from Seward, Nebraska, defensive end Adam Holtorf, who announced his pledge on social media late Sunday night. The Wildcats also began their pursuit of Class of 2015 Sachese, Texas, running back Devine Ozigbo with an offer last week. Kansas, Iowa State, Wisconsin and Boise State are among the teams that have offered the three-star prospect.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Oklahoma added another commit to its list, with Lancaster (Texas) guard Dominique Hearne choosing the Sooners. Hearne turned down offers from Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and Arizona State to pledge to Bob Stoops’ program.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Cowboys landed commitments on back-to-back days last week with the additions of Tyler (California) Junior College defensive tackle Motekiai Maile and Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor safety Kenneth McGruder.

TCU
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Gary Patterson’s squad continues to add athletes to its class with Mansfield (Texas) athlete Julius Lewis joining the Horned Frogs’ commit list this week. Lewis has the ability to play several different positions at TCU, but has been recruited as a cornerback to add speed and athleticism to Patterson’s secondary.

TEXAS
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The Longhorns didn’t hesitate to throw their name into the mix for ESPN 300 athlete Louis Brown of Burton, Texas, making an offer to a player who decommitted from Baylor last week. Charlie Strong’s program also offered Class of 2016 running back Devwah Whaley of Beaumont (Texas) Central.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: Kliff Kingsbury’s program secured a early commitment from up-and-coming safety Collin Wilder of Katy, Texas, as Texas Tech got a jump start on its Class of 2016. The Red Raiders offered Marvel, Texas, athlete D'Eriq King joining Clemson, Louisville, Michigan State and UCLA. Kingsbury’s program also offered Hines and Class of 2016 quarterback Shane Buechele of Arlington (Texas) Lamar Consolidated in the past week.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers began their pursuit of in-state signal caller Tyrhee Pratt of Charleston Capital. The Class of 2016 prospect could be a key recruit for West Virginia's 2016 class, as they’d hate to miss out on a in-state prospect who could end up with a lengthy offer list.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: RecruitingNation released its latest edition of the class rankings on Wednesday and it was no surprise to see Alabama, Clemson, Texas A&M, Penn State and Auburn round out the top five. But who are a few teams to keep an eye on that are outside the top 15? How about Mississippi State, TCU and Arkansas? All three programs have gotten off to good starts and could surprise folks come signing day.

Mississippi State off to fast start


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

When talking about the top young assistant coaches in college football, the name Kendal Briles continues to pop up. The son of Baylor coach Art Briles, Kendal has quickly earned the reputation as one of the top recruiters in the state of Texas and in the Big 12. Briles, who is the passing-game coordinator and offensive recruiting coordinator for the Bears, visited with RecruitingNation to talk about the difference in recruiting at Baylor now versus when his father's staff arrived, the emergence of BU as a regional power, and the future of recruiting.

[+] EnlargeKendal Briles
Matt Pearce/Icon SMIBaylor assistant coach Kendal Briles says the Bears only have "about four scholarships left" to give out in the Class of 2015.
When Art Briles got to Baylor, the Bears were 31-94 in the previous 11 seasons. Fast forward and Baylor has won 29 games in the last three seasons. How different is it walking into high schools to recruit versus when you guys arrived in Waco?

Kendal Briles: Just completely different. It’s really just the confidence of being a coach walking in a school and having 'BU' on your chest. It’s a totally different image now than when we got here. Texas high school coaches respect what we have done here, and Art Briles being successful here has a lot of people excited and they respect what we have done here. I see a lot of Baylor shirts walking through high school now, which is great.

While anyone paying attention would know Baylor was headed in the right direction in 2010, was it Robert Griffin III winning the Heisman Trophy that really put the building of the program back on the map?

KB: I think it was not only that, but the way he did it with the flair. He wasn’t just a pocket guy who was real productive. There was a lot of flair with him, the offense we ran and the way he did it just being so dynamic and doing things with the football no one else can do ... that personality and style of our offense made it real intriguing for guys to see. Him winning the Heisman was a huge deal, beating Oklahoma at home and beating Texas later that year ... all those things added together, you can’t say enough what those things did for our program.

Colleges often time have a former player that resonates and influences youths around the country. Do you see that with Robert Griffin III in Texas?

KB: One hundred percent. That is the name I hear more than any other. I get kids telling me tell RGIII 'What’s up?' I get things like that all the time.

When Art Briles took the Baylor job, you guys had goals that needed check marks. What did winning the Big 12 and going to a BCS Bowl do for the program from a recruiting perspective?

KB: It’s helped tremendously, and with the new stadium we are building right now. To be able to do something that is a reality, and not just that we are going to build a stadium is big. You can see [the stadium] right here on I-35, people are seeing pictures of it and all those things are big. Where we are at this year is the last three years we have had three different starting quarterbacks and to be able to keep growing as a program has been big. It was 'after RGIII is gone, Baylor will go back to the doormat,' then Nick Florence comes in and leads America in offense, then he is gone and then Bryce Petty comes in and what he did last year, so it shows you that we have a real football team.

You mentioned the new stadium set to open this season. Today’s college football recruiting world continues to be an arms race and doesn’t have the appearance of slowing down. Do the fans and media overplay the importance of facilities?

KB: No, it’s a huge deal. It’s imperative if you are going to recruit on the highest level to have as good or better facilities as others. You have to be on a competitive playing field. Everybody was using our stadium against us saying, 'Baylor doesn’t even have a stadium on campus' and stuff, and now we are on campus. You have to be very proactive with facilities nowadays without a doubt.

There is growing chatter about the need for an early signing period. Is that a subject that has been talked about in the Baylor football offices?

KB: To be honest with you, we haven’t discussed it all as a staff. I see the good and bad of it. The thing about it is when someone comes up with a new rule, everybody is on the same playing surface. Everyone has their strategies, you figure out what is going to be best for the Baylor Bears, then you go attack it and recruit. You can find negatives and positives with everything. For us, it really doesn’t matter. However they lay it out, we will go out and play.

On that same topic, official visits for prospects in the spring of junior year is being tossed about with the costs of unofficial visits and the process becoming earlier and earlier. What are your thoughts on that possibility down the line?

KB: For us, I wouldn’t want that. We are in central Texas, we recruit Texas, so all these kids we are recruiting are three hours away and can always get to us. If they start flying all over the country, it kind of gives those schools an unrealistic advantage because kids can think 'This is great, I can just fly out here,' but that is not really reality because it costs money once you are at a far away school. I just think that I wouldn’t want that, but I can see how schools that recruit Texas would really like that.

Baylor has the making of another impressive class with five ESPN 300 prospects already in the fold. What are the main needs remaining in the class?

KB: We want another secondary guy. If we could find a great quarterback, then we would take one ... another linebacker, and we are going to sign a punter this year. Those are really the only needs we have left. We only have about four scholarships left in this class.

You are one of the lucky ones that played big time high school football in Texas, was a highly recruited prospect and now coaches big-time football in the state. What is it that continues to impress you the most about Texas high school football?

KB: It’s just incredible. The thing that impresses me the most is the football coaches. You are talking about great high school football coaches in Texas. Guys that are cutting edge and do great things on both sides of the ball. The talent to me is incredible to me how good some of these young kids are. We had a freshman at our camp [on Sunday] that you would think would be a 24-year old man. It’s just incredible. The people that live outside the state that haven’t been to Texas high school football, seen the one-horse town that everyone gets behind the team, it’s an incredible experience. I feel very blessed to have grown up here and to be a part of it.
videoOn Monday, we went in-depth on just how many coaches were impacted this offseason when Mack Brown resigned. The ripple effect of the Texas coaching shakeup touched 103 coaches and 47 college programs. If you missed that story, click here to check it out.

If 103 sounds like a big number, just imagine how many recruits each and every one of those coaches would've affected. And not just the 2014 prospects who were forced to scramble before signing day -- these coaching changes have long-term implications for the Class of 2015 and beyond.

[+] EnlargeDamarkus Lodge
Miller Safrit/ESPNWide receiver DaMarkus Lodge has closed the door on Texas after the coaching change and will likely choose from Texas A&M, Baylor and Ole Miss.
DaMarkus Lodge is just one example, and proof that it only takes one assistant coach to completely change a kid's plans.

The ESPN 300 standout from Cedar Hill, Texas, is the state's No. 1 wide receiver prospect. When he announces his decision on June 20, most expect he'll be choosing from Texas A&M, Baylor and Ole Miss.

What most don't know is just how close he came to committing to Texas last year.

Ever since attending Texas' 36-20 win over Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry in October, Lodge was sold. He and his parents visited Texas again in November, for at least their third time since the spring. Lodge had every intention of leaving that weekend visit as a Longhorn.

"It was actually about to happen," Lodge said last month. "I was going to commit."

Darrell Wyatt had everything to do with that. Texas' now-former co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach had a remarkably strong bond with Lodge and was one of the first to offer him a scholarship. Wyatt's advantage was unmistakable: He had coached Lodge's personal trainer, David Robinson, while an assistant at Oklahoma. Robinson, the co-owner of Quick Twitch Training in Dallas, swore by Wyatt's expertise.

"Everything D-Rob is telling me, that's what he said they were teaching at Texas," Lodge said. "I was already ahead of the guys who were there and the guys who were coming in. I knew I was going to come in there and play for sure."

Lodge says his parents were on board with him making that November commitment. But for some reason, which even Lodge can't explain today, right when he was on the cusp of making the pledge, his gut said no.

"I was about to do it, about to pull the trigger, and something was telling me in my head, 'Don't do it. Just wait,'" he said. "So I told them never mind."

A month later, Brown announced his resignation. Lodge was glad he'd held off, but he was especially troubled to learn Wyatt was not going to be retained by new coach Charlie Strong. That was the game-changer.

"He was like a dad to me," Lodge said. "I was kind of heartbroken. I used to talk to Wyatt three times a week. [Texas] would've had me."

Texas' new coaches visited Cedar Hill several times this spring in the hopes of re-sparking his interest. Is there any chance they can still sway him to follow through on his old plans of becoming a Longhorn?

"Not at all. Not at all," he said. "For me, that door is just not open. I think they know they really lost me with the whole staff change."

But there's one more door that has yet to open. Wyatt remains unemployed. Lodge has no idea why.

While he says he would hate to decommit from his June 20 choice later on, Lodge is not afraid to admit it: Wyatt is still the one person who can change his mind.

"I wonder where Coach Wyatt is going to go," Lodge said. "If he goes to one of the schools that I'm looking at, or if he picks up another job, then I'm probably already 90 percent with him.

"I can't wait to see where he goes. If he goes to one of these big programs, I'm probably with him. I really wanted to be coached by him for the next four years. Wherever he ends up ... it's going to be crazy."

SPONSORED HEADLINES