NCF On The Trail: Big 12

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

February, 23, 2015
Feb 23
Junior day season is still underway, and that means a lot more offers and new names on the radar. Here's the latest on the 2016 recruiting trail in the Big 12:

Total commits: 5
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 3
The latest: Baylor running back commit Kameron Martin received an offer from Texas last week, but so far that move hasn't been enough to flip him. The ESPN Junior 300 back is a cousin of former Texas great Jamaal Charles and has called UT his "dream school," but Baylor was the first to offer and he's been a loyal pledge to the Bears since July 2014.

Total commits: 0
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones were the first to offer 6-foot-5 tight end T.J. Hockenson of Chariton, Iowa. He landed his offer during a junior day visit and put up serious numbers as a junior: 73 catches, 1,116 yards and 18 touchdowns. Hockenson is expected to take a junior day trip to Kansas State as well.

Total commits: 2
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks locked up their second commitment of 2016 from Antoine Frazier, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound offensive tackle from Huffman, Texas, who pledged one day after receiving an offer. Frazier was a high school teammate of KU early enrollee receiver Chase Harrell at Huffman.

Total commits: 2
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: One of the many recruits hoping for an offer at Kansas State's junior day Feb. 28 will be Ian Rudzik, a linebacker/running back from Ulysses, Kansas, who visited KU earlier this month. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior is drawing interest from Arizona State and Minnesota, but a KSU offer might end his recruitment quickly.

Total commits: 3
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 1
The latest: Though Oklahoma only picked up one commitment from its junior day last weekend, the Sooners did make progress with a number of key targets in the state of Texas. ESPN Junior 300 defensive end Marvin Terry, defensive tackle Chris Daniels and lineman Kellen Diesch all emerged with positive reviews and will be intriguing targets moving forward.

Total commits: 2
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: Oklahoma State went to the juco ranks for its second pledge of 2016. Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College cornerback Malik Kearse picked the Cowboys on Thursday. He originally hails from Miami, but an elbow injury in his senior year of high school meant no offers. Kearse logged two interceptions and 10 pass breakups in his first year at Fort Scott.

Total commits: 8
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 3
The latest: TCU hosted another big junior day on Saturday and received a commitment from offensive lineman Austin Myers of Manvel, Texas. The Horned Frogs also made offers to ATH Tyrell Alexander, TE Donte Coleman and 2017 ATH Roshauud Paul and were able to get ESPN Junior 300 running back Trayveon Williams and corner Jared Mayden on campus.

Total commits: 3
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 2
The latest: Texas made a ton of offers this week, and most of them went to quarterbacks. LSU commit Feleipe' Franks, Oregon commit Seth Green, Texas Tech commit Tristen Wallace and Baylor commit Zach Smith all picked up Texas offers, as did uncommitted passers Xavier Gaines, Woody Barrett and Bowman Sells. Considering the Horns' depth issues at QB, taking two in this class might make sense.

Total commits: 3
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Red Raiders landed their third commitment of the 2016 class from running back Da'Leon Ward of powerhouse Dallas Skyline. The all-purpose back picked Tech over TCU and rushed for 1,779 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior, but he is still expected to take more visits despite his pledge.

Total commits: 4
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: West Virginia is reportedly expected to get an unofficial visit from defensive end Shavar Manuel this spring. The nation's No. 2 overall 2016 recruit has Florida State in the lead following his FSU junior day trip, but WVU is on Manuel's list of upcoming trips along with Clemson, Florida, LSU and Virginia Tech.
Many believe ESPN Junior 300 defensive Nick Bosa will be an even better college football player than his brother. That’s saying a lot because his brother is Joey Bosa, star defensive lineman for national champion Ohio State and one of the top projected picks for the 2016 NFL draft.

Louisville signed the 30th-best 2015 class and is already off to a great start in 2016. The Cardinals have a good group of receivers on board and look to be in great shape with ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Jawon Pass.

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Roundtable: Junior college impact

February, 12, 2015
Feb 12
The past several days, we've focused on the incoming freshmen in the Big 12. In today's Big 12 roundtable, we're focusing on the junior college transfers:

Which junior-college transfer will make the biggest impact in 2015?

Chatmon: The door is wide open for receiver DeDe Westbrook to make a major impact for Oklahoma. The Sooners need playmaking receivers, and Westbrook fits the mold. He could be a terrific running mate with Sterling Shepard in Lincoln Riley’s version of the "Air Raid" offense, with the ability to line up in the slot or outside. Westbrook is the No. 14 player the ESPN JC50 as a four-star recruit from Blinn (Texas) Junior College.

Olson: Oklahoma State pulled off one of the better surprise coups of the final week of recruiting by flipping Chris Carson from Georgia. When you look at OSU's running back situation, it's clear he's going to get a lot of work in 2015. He's a complete back and a workhorse capable of answering a big question mark about the Cowboys' offense.

Trotter: I'm a huge fan of both Westbrook and Carson, and I think they are probably the two early favorites to contend for Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors. But on the other side of the ball, incoming Texas defensive end Quincy Vasser could also have a huge impact. The Longhorns are searching for a replacement for Cedric Reed, and Vasser, an ESPN JC50 signee, has the skill set to step in and be a starter from Day 1. It won't hurt him, either, that Texas will have a new defensive line coach, meaning Vasser should open spring ball on equal footing with the returners.

Which junior college transfer is flying too far under the radar?

Chatmon: It worked the first time, right? Receiver Ka'Raun White was somehow overlooked during the recruiting process despite his brother Kevin White becoming a Biletnikoff finalist for the Mountaineers last fall. From his hair free flowing out of the back of his helmet to his ability to run away from defenders, Ka'Raun will spark memories of his older brother. West Virginia needs immediate help at the receiver position, so Dana Holgorsen’s program will be hoping it goes two-for-two with receiver recruits from the White family.

Olson: I've been keeping an eye on Ke'aun Kinner since 2012, when he was perhaps the most productive back in the DFW Metroplex out of Little Elm, Texas. He rushed for more than 2,900 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior but never had the grades to go FBS. At Navarro College, he earned All-America honors in 2014 with more than 1,800 yards of offense and 22 TDs. He packs a lot of electricity into his 5-foot-9 frame, and I bet he'll be productive right away at Kansas.

Trotter: Carson could very well make a huge splash for Oklahoma State, but I'm also intrigued by the other running back they signed, Todd Mays. The East Mississippi Community College product can do it all, including play quarterback, running back, and receiver. He doesn't possess Tyreek Hill's world-class speed. But he can fill the role that Hill did this past season in the Oklahoma State offense as a running back/slot receiver combo player. He could also help the Cowboys on returns, and, who knows, maybe be a threat to pass off trick plays, too.

What team will see the biggest overall impact from its junior college class?

Chatmon: The Mountaineers didn’t need major junior college help, but they got it anyway with White, ESPN JC50 cornerback Rasul Douglas and two other junior college signees (Xavier Pegues, Larry Jefferson) who can help immediately. Douglas will add to secondary that already could be the Big 12’s best unit and Pegues, and Jefferson could kick start the pass rush in 2015.

Olson: I'm definitely a fan of the junior college haul that Oklahoma State put together. Carson is going to get most of the headlines, but defensive tackle Motekiai Maile has the potential to be a monster up the middle. Antwan Hadley is a big 6-foot-4 cornerback, and I'm excited to see what Mike Gundy's staff does with Mays. He's a true athlete -- quarterback/running back/receiver -- and potentially a pretty fun weapon.

Trotter: Overall, the answer to this might be Kansas or Iowa State. Underscoring several immediate needs, the two signed a combined 14 junior college transfers. The Cyclones are banking that ESPN JC50 defensive tackle Demond Tucker can instantly boost what was the nation's worst statistical defense last season. With the fewest returning starters in the league, the Jayhawks will also need multiple contributions out of its massive junior college class.

Coaches' poll: Favorite Big 12 recruits

February, 12, 2015
Feb 12
College recruiters rarely care about star ratings. They're looking for all sorts of other things: scheme fit, projection, growth potential, maturity, even track times. So once signing day passed, we asked.

We polled more than a dozen anonymous Big 12 coaches and recruiting coordinators for their favorite prospects in the 2015 class -- both the kids they signed and the ones they wanted.

[+] EnlargePatrick Vahe, Josh Wariboko
Gerry Hamilton/ESPNOne Big 12 recruiter predicts offensive guard Patrick Vahe (at left), a Longhorns' 2015 signee, will be "a good one" at the collegiate level.
Most of the recruits they named were under-the-radar finds. By now, you already know all about the elite signees such as Malik Jefferson, Jarrett Stidham and Breiden Fehoko. We were looking for the recruits who might not be big names now but are poised to make a big impact in the conference for years to come.

Here are 25 players that Big 12 recruiters liked in the class of 2015:

Baylor OG Riley Daniel: "Riley is a huge human. Schools got on him late. If you make a mistake in recruiting, make it big."

Baylor WR Blake Lynch: "Like him a lot. We had a hard time projecting where we saw him last spring position-wise, but I liked him a lot. At first we were thinking safety and we fell in love with him, but we were too late."

Baylor LB Jordan Williams: "Tremendous upside. I think he's athletic enough to play inside or outside with great tenacity. When I went to see him I said, 'How did we not know about this guy earlier?' Everybody had him at 5-11 and 190. He's 6-1 and 217."

Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler: "He’s got huge hands, good 40, good vert in a big body. He played AAU basketball, now football will become his focus. His ceiling is really high. Four or five years from now people could be looking back like ... how did Iowa State get that guy?"

Iowa State DE Seth Nerness: "Seth Nerness is a great kid. He plays with a great attitude and work ethic."

Kansas DE Dorance Armstrong: "That kid has a body on him and he can run. No idea how other people didn't get him. He had like 20 offers and comes from a big program. Watch him and he's every bit of what you'd want to recruit. That was a steal."

Kansas TE Jace Sternberger: "Jace is a coach’s son. Small-school, multiple-sport athlete. He shows his athleticism on the basketball court. He could blow up once he’s committed to one sport."

Kansas State DT Trey Dishon: "Trey is a big athlete. Everyone slept on him."

Kansas State DB Johnny Durham: "Jonathan plays with a very high football IQ. He’s always in the right spot and deceptively fast. I would compare him to Ty Zimmerman."

Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson: "Anderson is a freak. He’s the real deal. Size, speed, power. He’s a no-brainer."

Oklahoma WR John Humphrey Jr.: "A guy that I really liked in camps. He was a fast kid, came out of nowhere and can really run. I see him playing corner, to be honest, because of his feet and speed. With his change of direction and how fast he is, there's something about that kid."

Oklahoma CB P.J. Mbanasor: "Potentially really good player. I watched him and researched him and he was fluid and really played transition well. Big corners who can run are hard to come by."

Oklahoma State RB Chris Carson: "I think they may have gotten the best back in this signing class. He’s a Newcomer of the Year-type possibility."

Oklahoma State CB Antwan Hadley: "He has a safety body playing corner. Tall and long with a nose for the ball. He played against good people, too."

Oklahoma State S Kenneth McGruder: "McGruder is a stud. Big, physical, a leader. He’s a big-time safety. That’s the enforcer you want."

TCU S Arico Evans: "One kid that I think is really going to be good. He was an athletic quarterback who has that 'it' factor. He was his whole (high school) team, he knows how to play and has real upside. He's going to thrive in Gary Patterson's defense and can even grow into a linebacker."

TCU CB Julius Lewis: "Julius is a good athlete. Multiple-sport athlete, which limited his exposure in spring ball. He played both ways, which questioned what position he would play."

TCU C Jozie Milton: "Reminds you of Joey Hunt, a hardcore guy. He had all kinds of offers, but a lot of people in Texas probably didn’t see him coming. Physical, smart and you like that he can call signals."

Texas TE Devonaire Clarington: "He’s very talented. He’s just a nightmare for DBs with that size and speed. He’s probably going to end up being an NFL guy."

Texas OG Patrick Vahe: "He probably gets lost in the shuffle and gets forgotten because he committed so early. He’s going to be a good one. Tough player."

Texas Tech WR Tony Brown: "He's smooth, a good route runner. He's a good get for them. Kliff [Kingsbury] got some good receivers."

Texas Tech RB Corey Dauphine: "I like him a lot. He was a good player and a 200-meter guy. Big, physical and fast. I have a feeling he’ll cause people a lot of problems before he’s done."

Texas Tech LB D'Vonta Hinton: "Under the radar because of his height, but just a freaking football player with instincts."

West Virginia LB David Long: "He's not the biggest guy, but he plays bigger than his size. Reminds you a lot of Karl Joseph coming out of high school, a guy who can cover a big space. He's a good fit for the Big 12."

West Virginia DE Adam Shuler: "He didn’t get all of the attention and all of that but I think he has the chance to be a special player."
Quarterback Kyler Murray grabbed all of the headlines at Allen (Texas) High School over the past few seasons, but it’s actually junior offensive tackle Greg Little who is a higher-ranked prospect.

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Re-grading the Big 12 classes of 2011

February, 10, 2015
Feb 10
The only fair way to judge a recruiting class is waiting four years, right? Last week, we broke down how the Big 12's top signees of 2011 panned out. Today, we're re-ranking those classes and handing out new letter grades.

1. Kansas State Wildcats
2011 grade: C+
2015 grade: B+
Top signees: WR Tyler Lockett, OT Cody Whitehair, DE Meshak Williams, S Dante Barnett, WR Curry Sexton
Breakdown: Lockett became an all-time K-State great, and Bill Snyder's staff developed a lot of standout players from this class. Lockett and Whitehair were two-stars who'll finish as four-year starters. Don't forget that Williams was the Big 12's Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2012. KSU did count transfers Arthur Brown and Bryce Brown toward this class, too, and Arthur did earn conference Newcomer of the Year honors.

2. TCU Horned Frogs
2011 grade: N/A
2015 grade: B+
Top signees: CB Jason Verrett, QB Trevone Boykin, S Chris Hackett, DT Davion Pierson, DT Chucky Hunter
Breakdown: Not bad for a Mountain West class, eh? The class that inked a month after TCU's Rose Bowl victory produced a Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in Boykin and a Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in Verrett. While they became stars, four-star WRs LaDarius Brown and Brandon Carter were kicked off the team and 11 more members of this 24-man class ended up leaving TCU.

3. Texas Longhorns
2011 grade: A
2015 grade: B
Top signees: DB Quandre Diggs, RB Malcolm Brown, DE Cedric Reed, WR Jaxon Shipley, LB Steve Edmond
Breakdown: ESPN's No. 5-ranked class did not meet those lofty expectations, but 17 of the Longhorns' 22 signees have started at least one game and it's possible a dozen will end up starting multiple seasons. There weren't many bad busts among this group, nor were there many All-Big 12 players. Losing QB David Ash and OT Josh Cochran to career-ending injuries was a difficult blow.

4. Texas Tech Red Raiders
2011 grade: B-
2015 grade: B
Top signees: TE Jace Amaro, OT Le'Raven Clark, WR Jakeem Grant, LB Pete Robertson, RB DeAndre Washington
Breakdown: There's a lot to like about this group. Amaro became a second-round NFL draft pick and 10 other signees from this class ended up being quality starters in 2014. All but two were three-star finds. The only reason why this class isn't a solid B+ is its 12-24 record in Big 12 games.

5. Baylor Bears
2011 grade: C+
2015 grade: B
Top signees: OT Spencer Drango, DT Beau Blackshear, CB K.J. Morton, P Spencer Roth, OG Desmine Hilliard
Breakdown: Drango became an All-American in 2014 and is back for more. Blackshear will be a three-year starter, and Morton was a juco find who became a critical piece to the 2013 defense. Don't sleep on WR Jay Lee, either. The only concern with this group is Baylor signed a smaller class of 19 and at least seven haven't panned out. Plus, Shawn Oakman signed with Penn State as a three-star recruit in 2011. If we counted him in, the letter grade certainly improves.

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys
2011 grade: B
2015 grade: B-
Top signees: DE James Castleman, LB Ryan Simmons, WR Josh Stewart, RB Desmond Roland, QB J.W. Walsh
Breakdown: The prized gem of this No. 23-ranked class, RB Hershel Sims, did not last long in Stillwater. But the rest of the class Mike Gundy and his staff assembled included some major contributors, led on defense by Castleman, Simmons and DE Jimmy Bean. Stewart went pro a year too early. Walsh and OT Devin Davis have been plagued by injuries but can make comebacks in 2015.

7. Kansas Jayhawks
2011 grade: B-
2015 grade: C-
Top signees: LB Ben Heeney, CB JaCorey Shepherd, WR/RB Tony Pierson, DE Michael Reynolds, LB Jake Love
Breakdown: Four-star signees QB Brock Berglund and RB Darrian Miller both transferred (Berglund is on his fourth school now), but Heeney was an absolute gem as a two-star. KU signed 28, found about eight decent starters and a lot more who haven't made much of an impact. We'll see if Michael Cummings, who's started 12 games over two seasons, is the answer at quarterback.

8. West Virginia Mountaineers
2011 grade: C+
2015 grade: C-
Top signees: LB Nick Kwiatkoski, CB Terrell Chestnut, LB Isaiah Bruce, DT Shaq Rowell, RB Andrew Buie
Breakdown: Remember, this class was secured while West Virginia was still in the Big East. Their recruiting has certainly improved since joining the Big 12. Kwiatkoski and Bruce have combined for 44 starts, and Chestnut emerged this season. WVU still hasn't gotten a whole lot from its skill position takes in 2011, and QB Paul Millard's stint as a starter was brief.

9. Oklahoma Sooners
2011 grade: B+
2015 grade: D+
Top signees: DT Jordan Phillips, LB Frank Shannon, OG Nila Kasitati, DT Jordan Wade, LB P.L. Lindley
Breakdown: This class, ranked No. 11 by ESPN, was a total mess. Half of the 18 signees ended up transferring, two elected to give up football and prized WR Trey Metoyer was kicked off the team. With Phillips going pro early, only five members of the class are still on campus. And that includes Shannon, who was suspended for the 2014 season. At least transfers Brandon Williams (Texas A&M) and Kendal Thompson (Utah) are doing OK elsewhere.

10. Iowa State Cyclones
2011 grade: C-
2015 grade: D+
Top signees: QB Sam B. Richardson, WR Quenton Bundrage, CB Sam E. Richardson, LB Jevohn Miller, OG Jamison Lalk
Breakdown: This is not the easiest group to evaluate. The highest-rated signees, RB DeVondrick Nealy and WR Tad Ecby, were dismissed from the program last week. Bundrage might be the best of the bunch when he recovers from his torn ACL. ISU found a handful of starters from this 2011 class, but most of them still have a lot to prove.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

February, 9, 2015
Feb 9
Recruiting never stops. And even though the ink is barely dry on the letters of intent from national signing day last week, schools have begun putting together their 2016 classes. With that, we'll be turning the page on the Big 12 recruiting scorecard to next year as well:

Total commits: 6
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 4
The latest: Baylor continues to be an attractive destination for premier skill players. The Bears have already secured pledges from quarterback Zach Smith, running back Kameron Martin and wideout Tren'Davian Dickson, all three of whom are ranked in the ESPN Junior 300. The Bears also have the No. 11 overall recruit in the country on board in Silsbee, Texas, offensive tackle Patrick Hudson. Given the tremendous start, this will have a chance to be the highest-rated class Art Briles has ever signed.

Iowa State
Total commits: 0
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones had success at Urbandale High in Iowa two years ago, snagging four-star wideout Allen Lazard. Iowa State will try to pluck another promising prospect from Urbandale in three-star guard Jake Heinrich, whom the Cyclones have already offered. Heinrich's Urbandale offensive line teammate, Caleb Bright, figures to also be among the top in-state prospects in the 2016 class.

Total commits: 1
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: David Beaty inherited a potential cornerstone for his 2016 class in three-star running back Aubrey White, who committed to the Jayhawks back in October, well before Beaty was hired. Beaty has an impressive offer list that includes Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Nebraska and TCU.

Kansas State
Total commits: 2
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats have a pair of versatile big bodies on board in Xavier Kelly and Nick Lenners, who committed to K-State over the weekend. Lenners (6-4, 230) is likely to be a tight end, while the future of Kelly (6-5, 220) could be on defense.

Total commits: 2
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 1
The latest: After ignoring quarterbacks in this past class, the Sooners are looking to land a big-time one in 2016. Names to watch include Shane Buechele of Arlington, Texas, and Dwayne Haskins of Potomac, Maryland. Both are ranked in the ESPN Junior 300 and both hold Sooners offers.

Oklahoma State
Total commits: 0
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: After signing back-to-back ESPN 300 quarterbacks in Mason Rudolph and John Kolar, Oklahoma State will try to land yet another in 2016. It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys pursue ESPN Junior 300 QB Keaton Torre, who just moved from Edmond, Oklahoma, to Utah. Torre is committed to Louisville, but Oklahoma State has indicated interest. Running back figures to be a focal point for the Cowboys as well, and Oklahoma State has emerged as the early favorite to nab one of the top in-state prospects in Tulsa's Justice Hill.

Total commits: 7
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 3
The latest: Fresh off a 12-1 season, TCU is off to a fast start but lost its top pledge in four-star athlete Christian Wallace, who decommitted Sunday night. Longtime TCU defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas' retirement could have spurred Wallace's change of heart. The Horned Frogs still have seven commitments, and after not signing a quarterback last week, the Horned Frogs already have two committed for next year, including Brennen Wooten, who is rated as the four No. 4 dual-threat QB in the country at the moment.

Total commits: 3
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 2
The latest: After signing a trio of four-star receivers last week, the Longhorns have more pass-catching help on the way. Not only are ESPN Junior 300 receivers Collin Johnson and Reggie Hemphill-Mapps committed to Texas, they are planning to enroll early. Johnson, from San Jose, California, is the younger brother of 2015 Texas running back signee Kirk Johnson.

Texas Tech
Total commits: 2
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: After striking out at quarterback in 2015 after losing Jarrett Stidham to Baylor, the Red Raiders got an early pledge for 2016 in DeSoto, Texas, standout Tristen Wallace, who is being recruited both as an athlete and a quarterback. As with Stidham, the Red Raiders might have to fight to keep Wallace, especially from Ohio State, which has offered him and reportedly caught his eye.

West Virginia
Total commits: 4
ESPN Junior 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Mountaineers had a big-time visitor last weekend in four-star defensive tackle Ellison Jordan, who is one of the top rising seniors in Maryland. The Mountaineers already have a pair of defensive end commitments in three-star Logan Thomas and in-state prospect Reese Donahue.
The National Letter of Intent that more than 2,000 recruits signed last week is in no way a contract between player and coach. The paperwork offers no guarantee the coach will stick around even one more day.

That’s the tough truth Texas’ Charles Omenihu and countless other new signees have learned in the past few days. Two days after signing with the Longhorns, the defensive end’s position coach and lead recruiter, Chris Rumph, made an abrupt exit to Florida. He is certainly not alone.

In the few days since National Signing Day, coaches from Ohio State, LSU, UCLA, Notre Dame, Miami, Arkansas, and Florida have bolted for the NFL. The Irish, in fact, have already parted with three assistants since Wednesday. A defensive coordinator at North Carolina was fired, and the one at TCU retired.

The cycle goes on and on. Rumph left because Terrell Williams landed a job with the Miami Dolphins one month into his stint at Florida. So Texas will have to replace him with some other coach who has most likely made promises to other players.

"That’s the nature of the business," Omenihu said. "When you look at it and take the emotions out of it, all of this is really a business."

Omenihu, a 6-foot-5 defensive end out of Rowlett, Texas, had heard whispers Florida was interested in Rumph when new Florida head coach Jim McElwain was hired in December. But Rumph stayed put and Williams took the gig.

Crisis averted, right? Omenihu had only taken one other official visit (Arizona State) and didn’t exactly have a backup plan in case his position coach bailed. He was all-in on Rumph, fired up to play for the man who had developed a combined 14 NFL draft picks at Clemson and Alabama.

Rumph proved himself to be a fiery teacher, a sage mentor and a relentless recruiter at Texas. He also had a four-year deal. Omenihu and his fellow future Longhorns had no reason to worry.

Then the reports leaked on Thursday morning. Williams to Miami. Rumph to Florida. Almost a done deal. Omenihu reached out to Rumph. No answer. So he got in touch with defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and, soon after, Charlie Strong.

Strong’s words were reassuring. He had spoken with Rumph about the opening on Wednesday. Rumph had said he wasn’t taking it. By Friday afternoon, Rumph was gone. Omenihu, of course, found out from his Twitter feed.

"I was shocked, to be honest," he said.

Du'Vonta Lampkin was angry. The Texas defensive tackle signee logged onto Twitter and vented when he heard the news.

Considering he had flirted with flipping to Oklahoma late in his recruiting process, Lampkin’s frustration was understandable. The kid must have felt tricked.

These newly signed recruits have no reasonable recourse, either. Even if Lampkin wanted to go to Oklahoma, he would have to sit out 2015 and forfeit a year of eligibility. The NLI locks him and all his peers into a brutally one-sided deal.

That’s why elite recruits like CeCe Jefferson and Roquan Smith have every right to hold out. On signing day, Jefferson picked Florida and Smith chose UCLA on ESPN. Neither have made it official. Jefferson found out Williams was leaving Florida. Smith didn’t fax after learning Bruins defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was leaving for the Atlanta Falcons.

"They expect us to stay loyal to the school," Omenihu said, "but they don’t."

Rumph’s reason for leaving isn’t typical. He would have made more money by staying. The native of South Carolina moved on for family reasons. At Texas, he was 20 hours from family. At Florida, he’ll only be four and a half hours away.

Had Rumph moved on in December, Omenihu says he would have decommitted and faced "a much harder decision" while waiting to see who took Rumph’s place. Now that he’s signed, all he and Lampkin can do is hope for the best.

"I’m comfortable with the rest of the staff, and I’m pretty sure they’ll bring in a good defensive line coach," Omenihu said. "I’ll make sure to ask all my questions."

The one question that isn’t getting asked: What happens next year?

If the recommended early signing date of Dec. 16 gains approval this summer, this frustrating and increasingly accepted trend of post-NSD departures promises to worsen. The majority of coaching changes do occur after that date.

Coaches will compel recruits to sign as soon as possible. It’s their job. Until it’s not.

"If we leave, we’re questioned to the highest regard," Omenihu said. "If they leave, it’s just the business."

Business is once again booming, just in time for everyone but the signees to get what they want.
The trend was hard to miss if you walked the sidelines of a Baylor or TCU game before kickoff this season. What was soon to come looked pretty obvious on those Saturdays.

Throughout their dream seasons as co-Big 12 champions, guess who Art Briles and Gary Patterson packed their respective houses with? High school juniors and sophomores.

This week starts the clock on the class of 2016, yet Baylor and TCU are as ahead of the game as ever on that front. Their top-10 finishes are already beginning to pay off with this next batch of recruits.

Together, Baylor and TCU have landed 14 pledges for the 2016 class. Only 12 of the state of Texas' top 30 recruits have made commitments, but eight belong to the leaders of the Big 12.

While Texas and the rest of their recruiting rivals were scrambling to finish off the class that signed Wednesday, both Baylor and TCU have already hosted their first junior day of the year. It never hurts to have those kids stopping by to see your new trophies as soon as possible.

For TCU, it was only natural to get a jump-start on the next class. The Horned Frogs had 21 of their 23 signees for 2014 on board by the end of December.

The majority of that group committed off a 4-8 season. That group was pitched potential and promise. The 2016 class got to witness the results, and that has Patterson and his staff optimistic about how good this next batch of newcomers can be.

"I think kids that came to our ballgames, our type of offense and defense is very exciting," Patterson said during a national signing day appearance on Fox Sports. "I think the sky's the limit. I don't think we've even scratched the surface of what TCU can be."

The Frogs' group of eight pledges for 2016 already has its quarterback in San Angelo Central's Brennen Wooten, plus ESPN Junior 300 athletes Christian Wallace and D'Eriq King and receiver Courtney Lark. They also have a cornerback, three-star Ke'Shawn Somerville, who flipped from Baylor.

The Bears' 2016 class already has of the nation's best in offensive tackle Patrick Hudson, the No. 11 rated recruit in the ESPN Junior 300. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound lineman from Silsbee, Texas, flipped his commitment from Texas A&M to BU back in July.

Baylor took its quarterback for this class, Zach Smith, last summer as well. He's joined by ESPN Junior 300 back Kameron Martin, who's become the most vocal recruiter of the bunch on Twitter. BU also accepted a pledge last summer from Navasota's Tren'Davian Dickson, who went on to shatter the national single-season record with 39 touchdown catches (including four to win his state title game).

Briles and his assistants secured 13 of their 19 latest signees by the end of 2014. They didn't have to worry about many of them, either. That provided the luxury of time to get moving on 2016 and beyond.

"The last couple of weeks of recruiting, I mean, we recruited 2016 kids and looked at 2017 sophomores," Briles said during his signing day news conference. "Because these guys had been with us, stayed strong, they committed and stayed intelligent."

The commitments for this next class aren't the only key. By hosting those early junior days, Baylor and TCU get to be among the first to target and offer those in-state recruits who might not be on everyone else's radar just yet.

Neither program inked a top-30 recruiting class in ESPN's 2015 rankings Insider. Together, they signed almost four times as many three-stars as four-stars. This 2016 class can be a different story. The highly-touted kids who wouldn't take a call from Briles or Patterson a few years ago are taking trips to Waco and Fort Worth.

What matters, of course, is how you finish. TCU and Baylor will have to fend off foes for the next 12 months to ensure these pledges stick. The momentum of preseason top-10 hype should endure for these next six, making it easy to envision why both could be on the way to their highest-rated classes in a long time.
Altogether, the Big 12 signed 228 players Wednesday.

Where did those players come from? An examination of every class revealed the answer.

Not surprisingly, the state of Texas remains the backbone of Big 12 recruiting. Just over 50 percent of Big 12 signees came from the Lone Star State. But the data also showed that the Big 12 is expanding its recruiting footprint into other states.

Some more observations on the data:
  • Though it it continues to serve as the lifeblood of Big 12 programs, the competition for talent in Texas has intensified in recent years. Texas A&M, Alabama, UCLA, USC, Ole Miss, LSU and even Cal all swiped top-20 players from the state. Just five years ago, only a trio of top-20 Texas recruits bolted from the Big 12 (and one of those was to TCU). This year, 13 of the top 20 signed out of the Big 12.
  • Despite this trend, the majority of the Big 12 relied on Texas once again for the majority of its signing classes. Texans comprised at least 40 percent of the classes from Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech.
  • The rate of Texans headed to the Big 12 is actually up 4 percent from last year. Every Big 12 school signed at least three Texans, except for West Virginia, which for the second straight year didn't sign a Texas high schooler. (QB Skylar Howard was a native of White Settlement, Texas, but signed with the Mountaineers out of Riverside Community College in California.)
  • With Texas recruiting becoming more competitive, several Big 12 schools have had success opening pipelines elsewhere, including in SEC country. Iowa State and Kansas State nabbed a combined eight players from Georgia. After landing three players from Blue Springs, Missouri, last year, K-State picked up another three recruits from the same school, Tucker (Ga.) High, including linebacker Elijah Sullivan, whom the Wildcats flipped from Auburn on signing day. Oklahoma State and TCU continued to make inroads into Louisiana, each landing three players from the Pelican State.
  • Texas ended up with a top-10 class, but the Longhorns ventured outside their home state. A third of the class came from outside Texas, as Charlie Strong used his connections to add five players from Florida.
  • Oklahoma signed recruits from all over the map, as well, including Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Virginia, California, Illinois and Canada.
  • West Virginia, once again, had to show the most creativity, given the lack of in-state talent and its distance from Texas. The Mountaineers raided the East Coast, from New Jersey to Miami. West Virginia also did well adding depth to its class from just west, with four Ohioans in the class.

What we learned: Big 12 signing day

February, 5, 2015
Feb 5
National signing day has come and gone and is never devoid of drama. Seven Big 12 programs ended up with top-40 signing classes and most picked up a new signee (or three) on the final day of recruiting for the Class of 2015. Here’s a roundup of what we learned from signing day:

1. Charlie Strong’s first full Texas class gets top-10 finish

The word “foundational” will get thrown around a lot when talking about the Longhorns’ No. 9-ranked signing class, and with good reason. A nice big chunk of the 28 who inked with UT on Wednesday will be given a shot at playing time right away, including most of Texas’ 14 ESPN 300 signees.

Strong earned three nice victories on signing day: winning a coin flip (literally) for running back Chris Warren III, flipping speedy receiver/returner Ryan Newsome from UCLA and persuading three-star safety P.J. Locke to bail on Oregon. Texas went 0-for-3 on the coveted trio of Daylon Mack, Soso Jamabo and DaMarkus Lodge but still put together one of the more impressive defensive classes in the country.

It’s going to take another class like this before Texas’ cupboards are stockpiled again, but Strong confirmed with this class he won’t be afraid to take out-of-state talent (nine signees in 2015) if need be. His approach at Texas will continue to evolve, but the initial results look promising.

2. TCU misses on Mack, but could still pull surprise

Gary Patterson and his staff invested a lot of time and sweat into the recruitment of Mack, ESPN’s No. 6 overall recruit, and did an impressive job along the way. There was a phase of his process this winter during which the Frogs truly did hold a lead.

Patterson likely knew going into Wednesday that Mack was signing with Texas A&M, but it had to be a little disheartening to hear Mack declare he’d actually been silently committed to the Aggies since his Jan. 16 official visit. Kids like to maintain the charade and attention. Coaches don’t like wasting time.

The Frogs ended the day with ESPN’s No. 37 ranked class but might have one more chance to sweeten their haul. ESPN 300 Louisiana receiver Terrell Chatman delayed his signing until Thursday and, despite being a Miami commit, is mulling a flip to TCU or Arizona State.

3. Volatile day, valuable wins for West Virginia

Dana Holgorsen bragged on Wednesday that for the first time in a long time at West Virginia, he had the luxury of being selective with this 2015 class. He and his staff went hard after some big names, and a few pursuits paid off.

The most glaring need? Wide receiver. West Virginia inked an elite one in longtime ESPN 300 commit Jovon Durante and secured two more intriguing options on Wednesday: three-star Gary Jennings and juco transfer Ka’Raun White, younger brother of the great Kevin White.

But the Mountaineers missed on some key wideout targets: Shaquery Wilson flipped back to Georgia, Kahlil Lewis backed out and signed with Cincinnati and ESPN 300 standout Antonio Callaway chose Florida along with four-star back Jordan Cronkrite. WVU had as much to gain as any Big 12 program on Wednesday but had to settle for solid and a 36th-ranked class.

4. Sooners wrap up killer D with flip

Texas’ defensive class gets serious hype, but take a closer look at what the Sooners signed. Bob Stoops is right to call this his best secondary class yet: P.J. Mbanasor, Will Sunderland Jr., William Johnson, Kahlil Haughton and Antoine Stephens is a crazy collection of DB talent. That group added one more safety in four-star Prentice McKinney Jr., who’d previously committed to Notre Dame and North Carolina.

Oklahoma’s fears at linebacker were relieved -- Ricky DeBerry and Arthur McGinnis are both exciting takes -- and there are some nice pieces up front led by Canada’s finest, defensive tackle Neville Gallimore.

The infusion of depth and competition this class offers should help reshape an Oklahoma D that underperformed in 2014. Give props to newly elevated co-DC Jerry Montgomery, too. He’s a rising star in the recruiting world.

5. Red Raiders get double steal

Who doesn’t love a good package deal? Over the weekend, Texas Tech coaches sneaked Texas commit Jamile Johnson Jr. and TCU pledge J.F. Thomas in for an official visit. Soon after, Johnson made the third decommitment of his recruiting process and backed out on the Longhorns. His next move seemed obvious.

Thomas leaped with him. Both signed with TTU, in large part because their high school coach, Dallas South Oak Cliff’s Emmett Jones, has joined the Tech staff as director of player development. Thomas, a four-star wideout, is a great get after the Red Raiders missed on Carlos Strickland.

But it’s not that simple, of course. It seems TCU folks are skeptical Thomas will qualify, as evidenced by Patterson telling reporters that not only was he not surprised by the flip, he didn’t even ask the longtime pledge to take an official visit to TCU.

Got to love a good intraconference recruiting battle, right? This year’s signing day might not have been fireworks-filled, but it didn’t disappoint.
Texas finished strong to sit atop the Big 12 recruiting rankings with the nation's No. 9 class. Six other conference schools joined UT among the Top 40 classes in the nation, including Texas Tech who finished with four ESPN 300 signees, more than back-to-back Big 12 champion Baylor.

Here's a closer look at the final team rankings and the headline signees for each class.

No. 9 Texas
ESPN 300 signees: 14
ESPN JC50 signees: 0
Headliner: Mesquite (Texas) Poteet linebacker Malik Jefferson is the face of the class as his decision to become a part of UT’s class helped spark a strong finish to Charlie Strong’s first full recruiting cycle on the 40 acres. The No. 31 player in the ESPN 300 is already on campus and could emerge as a contributor as a true freshman.
The story: The Longhorns ended strong by flipping ESPN 300 receiver Ryan Newsome and former Oregon commit P.J. Locke on signing day then landing ESPN 300 running back Chris Warren to round out a solid class. In addition, UT filled a major potential hole in the class by securing former Florida State commit Kai Locksley at quarterback.
What they said: “It’s so great to see the way we ended with this class.” — UT coach Charlie Strong

No. 17 Oklahoma
ESPN 300 signees: 8
ESPN JC50 signees: 2
Headliner: Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson cornerback P.J. Mbanasor is a elite prospect at a need position for the Sooners. The No. 74 player in the ESPN 300 brings size (6-foot-1, 183 pounds) and athleticism to OU’s secondary.
The story: OU signed six defensive backs in total with an eye on improving a pass defense that was among the worst in the nation in 2014. Five of the six defensive backs are four-star prospects.
What they said: “I believe it's probably the best secondary class I've been a part of signing.” — OU coach Bob Stoops

No. 32 Baylor
ESPN 300 signees: 3
ESPN JC50 signees: 1
Headliner: Stephenville (Texas) quarterback Jarrett Stidham appeared headed to Texas Tech before deciding he’d rather trigger Baylor’s offensive attack. The No. 37 player in the ESPN 300, Stidham is already on campus and preparing to battle to become the starter for Art Briles team.
The story: The Bears loaded up on skill position players with ESPN 300 members Stidham, receiver Devontre Stricklin and running back Ja'Mycal Hasty. The Bears also looked to address their secondary with five defensive back signees including four-star prospects J.W. Ketchum and Blake Lynch.
What they said: “We've reached the point now with our program, fortunately, where recruiting is all about filling the needs that we have, instead of just trying to get the best available.” — Baylor coach Art Briles

No. 34 Oklahoma State
ESPN 300 signees: 3
ESPN JC50 signees: 2
Headliner: Norman (Oklahoma) North quarterback John Kolar could end up being the perfect prospect to run the Cowboys offense during his time in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The No. 72 player in the ESPN 300 isn’t an instant impact player with Mason Rudolph's emergence as a true freshman but Kolar could end up being one of the Big 12’s top signees in the Class of 2015.
The story: The Cowboys had several positions to address, particularly offensive line and running back, and dipped into the junior college ranks to do answer those questions. Junior college running backs Chris Carson and Todd Mays join three junior college offensive linemen and UAB transfer offensive tackle Victor Salako to give the Pokes some immediate options.
What they said: “I’ve never been worried about that. I used to put a lot of stock in that, but we’ve had so many high-rated players with a good physical and mental makeup come in here, but just not be into it. Then, we get some guys who aren’t rated too high, but football is much more important to them.” — OSU coach Mike Gundy on this class being rated lower than previous classes.

No. 35 Texas Tech
ESPN 300 signees: 4
ESPN JC50 signees: 0
Headliner: Honolulu (Hawaii) Farrington defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko could end up being the top Big 12 signee in this class. The No. 51 player in the ESPN 300 was unwavering in his commitment to becoming a Red Raider. Now the work starts for Fehoko, who could emerge as a mainstay in the middle of Tech’s defense as early as this fall.
The story: Kliff Kingsbury’s program put in work on signing day, finishing as well as any team in the Big 12. Tech flipped former TCU commit J.F. Thomas, a four-star receiver, and ESPN 300 safety Jamile Johnson on Wednesday. Tech signed seven four-star prospects, a remarkable feat for a program that went 4-8 in 2014.
What they said: “A lot of these kids were committed before the season started. For them to stick with us through a rough year, it meant a lot to us as a staff.” —Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury.

No. 36 West Virginia
ESPN 300 signees: 2
ESPN JC50 signees: 1
Headliner: Kevin White and Mario Alford aren’t walking through that door. But Miramar (Florida) receiver Jovon Durante is. The No. 126 player in the ESPN 300 could be just what the doctor ordered for WVU, bringing exceptional explosiveness at a need position. Nearly every school wanted Durante but the Mountaineers got him.
The story: The Mountaineers have done a terrific job of going into Florida along with other spots east of the Mississippi and selling themselves as the Big 12’s east coast option. Signees from Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and New Jersey decided to play college football in the Big 12. And don’t forget about Kevin White’s little brother, junior college signee Ka'Raun White.
What they said: “We made the decision to kind of remove ourselves from Texas just a little bit. Once we were competing against all of the schools in Texas it made it a little bit harder to get that caliber of player that we needed in order to be able to compete in the Big 12.” — WVU coach Dana Holgorsen.

No. 37 TCU
ESPN 300 signees: 0
ESPN JC50 signees: 0
Headliner: Monroe (Louisiana) Neville receiver Kavontae Turpin joins Metairie (Louisiana) East Jefferson cornerback DeShawn Raymond as the lone four-stars on the Horned Frogs’ signee list. Turpin could be a solid fit in TCU’s offense as an ideal slot receiver and Raymond has a eye on continuing the Horned Frogs’ trend of stellar cornerbacks.
The story: TCU struck out in some areas but the overall class is stocked with talented athletes for whom Gary Patterson will find the ideal fit into his program. The Horned Frogs added five receivers to the program with Turpin heading the list and being joined by Jaelan Austin, Tre'Vontae Hights, Tony James and Jarrison Stewart.

No. 59 Kansas State
ESPN 300 signees: 0
ESPN JC50 signees: 0
Headliner: DeSoto (Texas) defensive tackle Bryce English picked the Wildcats on signing day and appears to be a terrific fit in Bill Snyder’s program. The three-star prospect boasted several quality offers including Texas and UCLA. He may not play right away but he could turn out to be a terrific anchor.
The story: Once again the Wildcats class gets largely overlooked on signing day but several players including quarterback Alex Dalton and running back Alex Barnes could become key cogs in KSU’s offense in the near future.
What they said: “As we all know by now, it will be two or three years before we can accurately assess the quality of this or any recruiting class. Hopefully we have assessed the skills and intrinsic values of this year’s class accurately, but time will tell.” — KSU coach Bill Snyder

No. 61 Kansas
ESPN 300 signees: 0
ESPN JC50 signees: 0
Headliner: Houston North Shore defensive end Dorance Armstrong is a three-star prospect who picked KU over Cal, Michigan State and others. He’s quick and plays with plenty of energy so Armstrong could make an immediate impact.
The story: The Jayhawks did a solid job in Texas during David Beaty’s initial class with 17 of 24 signees from the state of Texas. The Jayhawks staff is full of coaches with solid recruiting ties in Texas and leaned on those relationships to land guys like Armstrong and Sherman (Texas) guard Aaron Garza.
What they said: “He had to be good and he had to be a Kansas guy. He had to be a guy that fit what we were looking for. If he didn't, we had to be courageous enough to turn the page.” — KU coach David Beaty.

No. 66 Iowa State
ESPN 300 signees: 0
ESPN JC50 signees: 1
Headliner: Hazlehurst (Mississippi) Copiah-Lincoln Community College defensive tackle Demond Tucker could be the most important signee in the Big 12. The Cyclones desperately need help in the defensive interior and the No. 28 player in the ESPN JC 50 could provide a stellar building block for Paul Rhoads.
The story: Tucker was one of five defensive linemen who inked with ISU, addressing a position that handcuffed the Cyclones for the bulk of the 2014 season. A combination of junior college defensive linemen and prep defensive line standouts could help Rhoads program set itself up for 2015 and beyond.
What they said: “Defensive linemen are the hardest position to recruit in all of the country. That’s true for every school. We needed to enhance that group and we did that with this class.” — Rhoads

Grading the recruiting classes: Big 12

February, 5, 2015
Feb 5

Here's a team-by-team breakdown of the recruiting classes in the Big 12.


1. Texas Longhorns

National rank: 9

In coach Charlie Strong's first full class, the Longhorns snagged commitments from 13 ESPN 300 prospects, including playmaking linebacker Malik Jefferson (No. 31) and OG Patrick Vahe (No. 185) who fills a need up front. Top-10 running back Chris Warren III and top-20 RB Tristian Houston bring the Longhorns' backfield much-needed speed. No. 201 John Burt fills a big need at receiver as well. On the defensive side, No. 97 DeShon Elliott gives Texas one of the nation's top safeties. Three-star inside linebacker Breckyn Hager, the son of former Longhorns All-American Britt Hager, was a late September flip from Baylor. Hager was joined in late October by ESPN 300 outside linebacker Cameron Townsend (No. 255). Junior college defensive end Quincy Vasser, who has instant impact ability, is not as publicized as the others, but he was a key December flip from Georgia. Three-stars Cecil Cherry and Charles Omenihu are upside defenders, as is No. 261 Davante Davis. Florida products No. 112 Devonaire Clarington and three-star receiver Gilbert Johnson bring athleticism and physicality to the offense.

To see the rest of the grades in the Big 12, click here.

Big 12

Big 12 signing day primer

February, 3, 2015
Feb 3
Signing day is upon us, with ESPNU set to bring us 11 hours of live coverage and 17 live TV announcements on Wednesday, including ESPN 300 members Daylon Mack, Soso Jamabo and Josh Wariboko making their college choice known with Big 12 schools remaining in consideration for their signatures.

Jamabo will announce between UCLA and Texas at 9:20 a.m. ET, Wariboko will reveal his choice of Oklahoma, UCLA or Ohio State at 11:05 a.m., and Mack will select Texas A&M, Texas or TCU at 12:35 p.m.

For team-by-team coverage of the Big 12, check out the conference’s recruiting pages:
Iowa State
Kansas State
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech
West Virginia

Programming schedule:
Signing Day Special (8 a.m. ET): ESPNU or Watch ESPN
Texas Football Signing Day Live (9 a.m. ET): LHN or WatchESPN

Storyline to watch: Where will Texas end up in the national rankings? Charlie Strong's first full recruiting cycle on the 40 acres has been fruitful, with ESPN 300 recruits making up more than a third of his commitment list. The Longhorns remain hopeful they can land Mack and Jamabo, but UT looks poised to bring in the best recruiting class in the Big 12 even if both players decide to play their college football elsewhere.

Recruit to watch: Wariboko would be a terrific addition to Oklahoma's recruiting class. The onetime Sooners commit decided to weigh his options during the recruiting process, but everything could come full circle if the Oklahoma City Casady guard decides to play college football near home. If he picks the Sooners, he would be the ninth member of the ESPN 300 on OU's commit list.

Signing day surprise: Keep an eye on West Virginia. Dana Holgorsen's program has put together the No. 30 recruiting class in the nation and would love to top it off with a surprise like ESPN 300 receiver Antonio Callaway. WVU’s flip of longtime Georgia commit Shaquery Wilson was a pleasant pre-signing day surprise for the Mountaineers, so an addition such as Callaway could give WVU the Big 12's top group of receiver prospects.