NCF On The Trail: Big 12

Brandon Martin surprised observers by coming out of nowhere to become one of the nation’s most highly-coveted prospects. He also surprised many when he made a commitment to Missouri last weekend. However, Martin showed us with his latest move, the surprises aren’t over yet.

Editor's note: This story has been updated following Kyler Murray's decision to stick with Texas A&M.

It's been a while since Texas A&M and the University of Texas have been locked in a handful of major recruiting battles. A rivalry that was once played on the field is now playing out in high schools and living rooms with six days left until national signing day. While Longhorns fans are in a state of frenzy due to rumors and chatter, the Aggies remain the "cool school" in the Lone Star State and hold the momentum headed into the first two of five announcements that could flip that perception within the state lines.

What exactly is on the line for both programs beginning with Friday's announcements by ESPN 300 cornerbacks Holton Hill and Kris Boyd? The Longhorns' shot at starting a wave of momentum of their own, and the Aggies showinging their ability to make a late push on two prospects Texas has recruited as priorities.


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Big 12 programs have done a solid job on the recruiting trail in the Class of 2015, with seven teams ranking in the top 40 nationally as signing day approaches next Wednesday. Texas leads the way with a top 10 class, while TCU, Oklahoma State and West Virginia are among the squads that have put together quality recruiting classes.

Yet, every Big 12 program still has questions to answer as they aim to finish their 2015 recruiting classes with some late additions.

In this ESPN Insider story, you can get a detailed look Insider at where every Big 12 team stands heading into the final days of this recruiting cycle.
Kyler Murray isn't the only high-profile Texan who will shape the future of Lone Star State recruiting, as ESPN 300 defensive backs Kris Boyd and Holton Hill will announce their decisions together Friday.


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It’s not often a recruit commits to the same school twice, but that’s what happened with ESPN 300 receiver John Burt on Monday.


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Big 12 recruiting scorecard

January, 26, 2015
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It's the most wonderful time of the year! Signing day is less than 10 days away. The second-to-last official visit weekend is in the books. Here's where the Big 12 recruiting classes stand entering the final stretch:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 18
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 27th
The latest: The Bears added a fourth offensive lineman to their class on Sunday in the form of Ringling, Oklahoma, guard Riley Daniel. He chose Baylor after an official visit this weekend and a trip to Texas Tech last weekend. Baylor is also battling the Red Raiders for three-star Louisiana cornerback Henry Black, who visited Waco over the weekend.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 18
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: Iowa State is searching for a running back to replace Devine Ozigbo, who flipped to Nebraska earlier this month. Might the answer be Joshua Thomas? The three-star back from Buford, Georgia, appears to be down to Iowa State and Wisconsin. A decision is expected soon. Thomas visited the Badgers this weekend. Another recruit to keep an eye on: Julian Good-Jones, the Cyclones' tackle commit who visited Louisville this weekend.

KANSAS
Total commits: 24
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: Kansas picked up five intriguing pledges from the state of Texas in the last week -- DE Dorance Armstrong, WR Jeremiah Booker, WR Steven Sims, LB Osaze Ogbebor and former Tulsa CB commit Shola Ayinde -- but also lost two significant commits over the weekend. On Sunday, three-star receiver Kevin Thomas flipped to SMU and three-star athlete Arico Evans made his flip to TCU.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: Not ranked
The latest: Kansas State will be a finalist for one Georgia prospect on signing day and will have to do some work to ensure another stays in the fold. Three-star defensive end G.G. Robinson, a Louisville commit, visited K-State over the weekend and hails from Lilburn, Georgia. Meanwhile, three-star OLB commit Mohamed Barry took an official visit to Nebraska and will make his final decision between KSU, Nebraska and Miami on Thursday.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 20
ESPN 300 commits: 8
ESPN JC50 commits: 3
Class rank: 17th
The latest: The Sooners are likely going to part ways with ESPN 300 defensive tackle Marquise Overton, whose ACT score has the OU staff concerned he won't qualify. A key target to take his place in the OU class is four-star Darrion Daniels. The Dallas defensive tackle visited Iowa this weekend and is expected to decide this week, though Texas Tech might be the favorite at the moment.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 18
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 35th
The latest: The Cowboys moved quickly to land ESPN 300 athlete Louis Brown after he parted ways with Texas last weekend. Brown took an official visit to OSU and made his commitment on Saturday night. The Burton, Texas, native will likely play defensive end. OSU also held its first junior day for the 2016 class this weekend.

TCU
Total commits: 24
ESPN 300 commits: 0
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: 37th
The latest: The Horned Frogs loaded up on speed this weekend. First they secured a commitment from Kavontae Turpin, an electric receiver and returner from Monroe, Louisiana. Then came the commitment from Arico Evans, who'd pledged to Kansas earlier this month. He accounted for 34 total touchdowns as a quarterback at Dallas Hillcrest this season.

TEXAS
Total commits: 23
ESPN 300 commits: 9
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 9th
The latest: Texas had a big-time weekend with five-star DT Daylon Mack, ESPN 300 running back Soso Jamabo and ESPN 300 athlete Kai Locksley in town for official visits. Mack and Jamabo will announce their decisions on signing day. Locksley, an important QB target for Texas after losing Zach Gentry to Michigan, will go home and mull over whether he should flip from Florida State. The Horns also brought in Georgia DB commit Deandre Baker and Dominique Reed, the nation's No. 4 juco receiver. Texas also picked up a re-commitment on Monday from ESPN 300 wide receiver John Burt, who'd backed out earlier this month to reconsider Auburn.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 0
Class rank: 33rd
The latest: The Red Raiders picked up a commitment last week from three-star offensive lineman Cody Wheeler of powerhouse Allen High School in Texas. He was one of the many official visitors in Lubbock over the weekend, a list headlined by ESPN 300 running back Chris Warren III. Three-star defensive end pledge Lonzell Gilmore visited Baylor over the weekend.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 24
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN JC50 commits: 1
Class rank: 25th
The latest: In addition to landing a commitment from three-star lineman Rob Dowdy, West Virginia had a big-time weekend with three Florida studs visiting Morgantown: four-star Miami pledge RB Mark Walton, four-star Georgia commit WR Shaquery Wilson and ESPN 300 receiver Antonio Callaway. Another Florida native, four-star athlete Jordan Cronkrite, will decide between WVU and Florida on signing day.
The shockwaves from Texas A&M quarterback commitment Kyler Murray’s unofficial visit to Texas on Wednesday were still being felt Thursday because he's such an important target for both schools.


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ESPN 300 prospect Holton Hill is one of only three elite cornerbacks remaining on the board in the 2015 class, and that means coaches are doing all they can to land his commitment.


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ESPN 300 receiver Van Jefferson is no longer committed to Georgia and the news was definitely disappointing for the Dawgs. So who’s in the driver’s seat now for the one of the best receivers in the country?


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Best of the visits: Big 12

January, 18, 2015
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The third weekend in January is always a busy -- if not the busiest -- weekend in the recruiting cycle. College coaches are allowed to contact recruits face-to-face again and the college football season is over, so both players and coaches have turned their attention to the final few weeks of recruiting. It was a busy weekend around the Big 12 with almost every conference program hosting recruits on official visits. Here’s a look at some of the best of the best form those visits.

ESPN 300 running back Nick Brossette has been a longtime LSU commitment, but that hasn’t stopped him from giving Texas a long, long look. Texas would like to land an impact running back in the 2015 class, and Brossette remains one of its best options. Brossette has built a great relationship with Horns coach Charlie Strong, and from all indications he had a good time in Austin this weekend.


Oklahoma landed a much-needed commitment from Dallas Kimball three-star cornerback Antoine Stephens on Sunday. The 6-foot-1, 187-pound Stephens was also offered scholarships by Texas Tech, Baylor, Louisville, SMU, Washington State and others.


After losing five commitments in the past few weeks, Iowa State received positive news from three-star inside linebacker De'Amontae Jackson over the weekend. The 6-foot, 235-pounder was a big get for the Cyclones out of the Sunshine State. At one point in time, Jackson had offers from Alabama, Florida State, Kentucky, Miami and others.


It also looks like Iowa State did a very impressive job with No. 10 junior college offensive tackle Jaypee Philbert this weekend. He posted about loving his time at the Kansas-Iowa State basketball game and also posted a picture of him hanging out with Cyclones offensive coordinator Mark Mangino.


Three-star defensive tackle Tyrell Jacobs joined fellow Louisianan Reggie Walker on an official visit to Kansas State this weekend. Jacobs, who visits Missouri and Illinois the next two weeks, was also accompanied by his mother.


Texas Tech had a large group of visitors on campus this weekend, including Kansas three-star athlete pledge Arico Evans. The 6-1, 190-pounder from Dallas Hillcrest seemed to be having a good time on his trip to Lubbock.


Oklahoma State also had some big prospects on campus, including eight players who were already committed to the Cowboys. This includes players like three-star safety Za'Carrius Green, who definitely liked what he saw with the black Oklahoma State uniform.

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Few recruiting battles are more intriguing than the ones going on in Texas for high-profile players such as Daylon Mack, Soso Jamabo and Chris Warren III. What schools they pick could tilt recruiting supremacy in the Lone Star State moving forward


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There are 30 players committed to Big 12 schools in the final update of the ESPN 300 for the Class of 2015. That number is comparable to the Big Ten and the Pac-12, but definitely trails behind the ACC and SEC. What also has to be troubling is the lack of top-flight national recruits ending up at Big 12 schools. Only two top-50 players and seven in the top 100 are heading to Big 12 programs. The good news is that those numbers could change down the stretch as some good talent remains on the board in Texas and Oklahoma.


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Top early enrollees: Big 12 

January, 14, 2015
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Big 12 programs have always been big believers of using players that can enroll at midterm and can make a big impact in their program, starting in spring practices. Whether it be through the junior-college ranks or through high school players that are ready to step on the field from Day 1, there will be plenty of fresh faces that do big things in the league early on. Here is a look at five Big 12 early enrollees:


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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Even it looks like there is momentum for an early signing period in mid-December, college coaches still are torn on whether that’s a good thing. Plus, what does an early signing period do to the financial aid agreements players are already signing?


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Q&A: Texas LB commit Cecil Cherry

January, 7, 2015
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The much-hyped "Florida Five" is now fully on board at Texas, and their ringleader calls it "a dream come true."

[+] EnlargeCecil Cherry
Tom Hauck for Student SportsThree-star linebacker Cecil Cherry says he's hyped to play with fellow Floridians at Texas.
Three-star linebacker Cecil Cherry of Victory Christian Academy in Lakeland, Florida, was the first to commit. Defensive backs Davante Davis and Tim Irvin, tight end Devonaire Clarington and receiver Gilbert Johnson have all joined the class since Jan. 1.

All five visited in November and bought into joining Charlie Strong's class and giving the Longhorns an injection of Florida talent like they've never before seen. Cherry discussed each member of the "Five" and their plans to bring a national title back to Austin in a chat with ESPN.com on Tuesday.

What was it about your official visit weekend in Austin that sold you guys on Texas?

Cecil Cherry: That weekend was great. We bonded together, had fun and talked together about making history and coming to Texas and taking over. We had fun as brothers and I believe the three or four years we spend together are going to be more fun. We want to bring our talents to Texas to take the program to the college playoff and play for a national championship.

What's going to surprise Texas fans about the way Florida kids play?

Cherry: Well first of all, we're going to bring back how 'The U' was, but we're going to do it the professional way. That's being generals with it, not wild how they were but still having fun and going around with a chip. We've got to be good players on and off the field: have fun, be all about ball, get your education, be a team leader. It's going to feel like, 'Man, we've got Florida boys on the team.'

How excited were you to learn you'll get to play with Malik Jefferson?

Cherry: Oh I was hyped. I like that Malik and [Anthony] Wheeler joined because it's not just about me making tackles. They can help me and I can help them. We can help each other get rings in college and try to get to the NFL. They'll be calling that the next 'Linebacker U.' We can all help each other out. It starts with the linebackers, the quarterbacks of the defense.

Tell me about Tim Irvin. What do you like about his game?

Cherry: Tim plays fast, he's undersized and he gets to the ball and takes control of the field. I want him to play safety behind me. He's so small that everybody has overlooked him, but he plays with that chest and has that dog in him.

What should we expect from Davante Davis?

Cherry: Oh, he's a lockdown corner. I like how he talks. He'll tell you what it is, tell you what he'll do. He's not scared to hit nobody. I want players like that, who go out with a chip on the shoulder. You do your job and go 100 percent at what you do. It's just like the Spurs -- everybody handles their position and goes 100 and they all bond together and win. That's what we've got to bring to Texas. All of us go 110 at our position and we make stuff happen and get in the college playoff and win a national championship.

What about Devonaire Clarington?

Cherry: Big body frame, physical, good route-runner. He's a special tight end, not your ordinary tight end. He can do a lot from the slot and bring some diversity to moving the ball on offense. I saw him at a couple camps and we started talking and relating during our weekend at Texas. It felt like we grew up with each other.

I know he's a year older than the other four, so have you seen Gilbert Johnson play much? What do you know about him?

Cherry: He's smooth, calm, collected. Good receiver. I think he'll tear it up. He's crisp with his routes and pass-catching. He's not a talker. One thing I noticed about these boys from going out with them, we had a really great time. We really look out for each other.

You know people are doubting Texas after how this season finished. What does this opportunity to help turn a program around mean to you?

Cherry: It's wonderful to me. Everybody might talk and say this and that, but Coach Strong didn't recruit those boys when he came in. Coach Strong has to get his talent in. It starts off with the Florida boys. If you want players, you're going to come down south to Polk County and all the way up. Everybody wants to play with dogs. Coach Strong recruits to win, pay bills and feed his family. Coach Mack Brown was there to recruit nice players. You've gotta look at Florida State. They've got all these Polk County, Florida, boys in there and they win a national championship because Jimbo [Fisher] recruited in Florida where the players are. Coach Strong knows where to get 'em to change the program around.

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