NCF On The Trail: Iowa State Cyclones

All told, Big 12 schools signed 187 high school players last week.

Where are the Big 12 schools getting their players? I examined every conference class to determine that answer.

The state of Texas, as expected, dominated the yield. But Big 12 schools mined talent from 23 different states and the District of Columbia.

Some thoughts on the data:
  • Even as the competition for talent has exploded there, the Lone Star State remains the lifeblood of the Big 12. There’s no question that Texas is being more nationally recruited than ever. Alabama, LSU, Stanford, Oregon, Notre Dame and even Boise State landed top-15 players from the state. That’s a huge change from just three years ago, when only one top-15 Texas player signed outside Big 12 country. But even as the demand of SEC, Pac-12 and Big Ten schools has expanded, the number of Texas players signing with Big 12 schools has remained consistent. I went back and added up the Texas players who signed with current Big 12 schools in 2009. The tally was 114, only six more than the 2014 total. The Big 12 is still building its class depth in Texas, even if the clash for the elite talents in the state has become even more fierce.
  • How important is Texas to the Big 12? Big 12 schools signed 108 players from the state and only 79 elsewhere.
  • Texas supplied players to every program in the Big 12 except West Virginia. Surprisingly, former Big 12 state Missouri was tied with Florida as the next state that's spreading out its talent, sending eight players to five Big 12 schools. Evidently, Big 12 schools have retained ties to the Show-Me State, even though the University of Missouri is now in the SEC.
  • Combined, Baylor, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech signed a total of 14 high school players from outside Texas.
  • With the SEC encroaching on Texas, several Big 12 schools returned the favor in SEC country. Last week, the Big 12 signed seven prospects from Louisiana, compared with just three in 2009. All told, the Big 12 plucked 29 players from the states of Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi, including five ESPN 300 prospects.
  • No school has shifted its recruiting focus in the last five years more than Oklahoma. Dating to the Bud Wilkinson era, the Sooners have always depended on Texas players. And while that still remains the case, the Sooners are opening another pipeline to California. OU landed four players from California and only seven from Texas.
  • While Oklahoma has focused west, its Bedlam rival has turned the other way. Oklahoma State has now landed a recruit from Georgia in each of the last four classes. Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer grew up and went to college in Georgia, and that connection clearly is paying off on the recruiting trail.
  • With only one FBS prospect in state, West Virginia is the most creative Big 12 school when it comes to recruiting. The Mountaineers have yet to make any inroads into Texas, which could come as the school settles into the Big 12. In the meantime, West Virginia signed players from six different states, not including Washington, D.C. West Virginia had the most Florida players, with five.
  • The Big 12 didn’t get much out of the Kansas high schools this year. Only three players signed with Big 12 schools from the state. Kansas, however, is fertile ground for junior-college help, this year included.
  • The state of Wisconsin tied for ninth in Big 12 signees, thanks to Iowa State, which signed all three Big 12 players there.
  • West Virginia, Iowa State and Kansas State each signed just one in-state high school player.

Signing day: Big 12 wrapup

February, 5, 2014
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As hectic of a day as it was, national signing day was a success for all Big 12 programs. Coaches were up early manning their fax machines and showing excitement with every national letter of intent submitted via fax.

Nearly 250 football players signed letters of intent to play Big 12 football on Wednesday. Here are five of the biggest storylines -- and a bonus storyline that could have an ending Thursday -- from the conference.

Oklahoma takes over top spot in Big 12

In the past 48 hours, everything seemed to go Oklahoma’s way.

[+] EnlargeMichiah Quick
Courtesy of Nike ESPN 300 ATH Michiah Quick was a big part of Oklahoma's final rush, a rush that gave the Sooners the top class in the Big 12.
After getting a Tuesday commitment from ESPN 300 safety Steven Parker II (Jenks, Okla./Jenks), the Sooners got Wednesday pledges from ESPN 300 athlete Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central East) and high three-star offensive tackles Kenyon Frison (West Valley City, Utah/Granger) and Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge).

All four players were a part of Oklahoma’s signing class of 26 on Wednesday -- helping the Sooners take over the top spot in the Big 12 class rankings. Oklahoma’s class is No. 13 nationally, three spots better than previous top dog Texas.

Oklahoma in previous years has been very good at finishing strong in recruiting. It managed to sign Frison, who committed to Utah last February before decommitting last month, as well as Brown, who had been committed to Tennessee since May before making an 11th-hour change.

Strong, Longhorns get their DTs

New Texas coach Charlie Strong wanted two players he recruited to play at Louisville, and by Wednesday afternoon, he had them.

ESPN 300 defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) and three-star defensive tackle Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Victory Christian Academy) signed with the Longhorns and were two of 23 to submit national letters of intent. They also helped erase the sting of the Longhorns losing three four-star defensive tackle commitments in LSU signee Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren), Oklahoma signee Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/St. Augustine) and Texas A&M signee Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) last month.

Collectively, Ford and Nelson recorded 235 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 35 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles. The duo also had 37.5 tackles for loss.

Receivers ‘No. 1’ to Baylor coach

Baylor coach Art Briles made a bold statement about his new wide receivers -- one that might be challenged by some but co-signed by others.

“The thing that we feel really good about,” Briles said, “is that we've signed the No. 1 receiving class in America -- I don't think that's up for debate.”

Briles has an argument with four ESPN 300 receivers in K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), Ishmael Zamora (Houston/Alief Elsik) and Chris Platt (Willis, Texas/Willis). The quartet helped to give Baylor a top-25 national recruiting class.

Rhoads fired up about lone in-state signee

To say Paul Rhoads is excited about his top-ranked signee, ESPN 300 wide receiver Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale) is an understatement.

While Rhoads is pumped about the entire class, there’s something special about Lazard, as he is this year’s only in-state signee. Lazard, No. 148 in the ESPN 300, had opportunities to sign with other programs, but he chose to honor his original commitment and also follow the footsteps of his father Kevin Lazard, who played in the secondary for the Cyclones in the early 1990s.

“This is a young man who has gotten phenomenal national attention and was recruited by the traditional historical programs in college football and kept on turning them away to stay true to his word to be an Iowa State Cyclone,” Rhoads said in a statement of Lazard, the No. 2 prospect out of the state of Iowa behind Alabama offensive lineman signee Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls).

West Virginia adds depth in class

Adding depth was the objective for West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, as he signed 22 players on Wednesday. Holgorsen was fortunate to add depth from coast to coast.

Of the 22 commits, only one -- three-star offensive tackle Amanii Brown (Morgantown, W.Va./Morgantown) -- is an in-state signee. The Mountaineers hit points all over the Lower 48, from California to Texas to Florida, to get players who can be contributors early and help the program return to star status.

West Virginia’s class is led by five ESPN 300 players. Running back Donte Thomas-Williams (Durham, N.C./Hillside), the class’ top-ranked player, was the last to commit early Wednesday afternoon. He joins defensive back Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), linebacker Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) and receivers Lamar Parker (Miami/Booker T. Washington) and Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) in the class.

Bonus: Could the Sooners add one more?

LSU signed 22 players on Wednesday. The Tigers were hoping to sign 23.

Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass) has been verbally committed to LSU since July, but the ESPN 300 defensive end also has high interest in Oklahoma. There were conflicting reports on Wednesday regarding whether Clark actually signed and submitted his letter of intent to LSU.

ESPN’s David Ching said an LSU spokesperson confirmed the letter of intent was at LSU and cleared compliance. Outside reports, however, say Clark did not submit the letter of intent, and a tweet from Clark's Twitter account said that “nothing is final.” His mother Dorshell also told The Oklahoman that her son “has not signed with LSU.”

Oklahoma City schools were closed on Wednesday because of bad weather, so Clark didn’t fax anything by way of Douglass High School. He is expected to announce his final decision on Thursday.

If it's true that Clark has not signed with LSU, look for Oklahoma to be a key player in his final decision. Ranked No. 273 in the ESPN 300, Clark has built a great relationship with the Sooners' coaching staff, particularly defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery.

Big 12 recruiting roundtable 

February, 4, 2014
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National signing day is now just 24 hours away. To get you ready, we checked in with our ESPN.com recruiting experts for their takes on the major storylines in the Big 12.

Senior national recruiting writer Jeremy Crabtree and Big 12 recruiting reporter Damon Sayles took time from their extremely busy schedules this week to address a few questions:

Oklahoma is closing strong here. With a few blue-chip players still in play, could the Sooners end up with the top class in the Big 12


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Key recruiting visits -- Big 12 

January, 31, 2014
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It’s the last week of official visits, which means one last chance for coaches to make an impact before national signing day.

While many athletes have decided where they want to play college football, there are still a few players looking to use this final week as a measuring stick. Here are eight players to keep an eye on as they make an official visit. Also included are two 2015 players who will make junior-day appearances.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

January, 27, 2014
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As expected, this was one of the busiest weeks in the Big 12 from a recruiting standpoint. Teams were looking to fill in last-minute vacancies, and players were looking to finalize their college plans. TCU proved to be the big winner in the conference, landing six 2014 commits and two more commits from the 2015 class. Kansas wasn’t far behind, as the Jayhawks got verbal commitments from five three-star players for the 2014 class.

Here are some of this past week’s highlights:


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Big 12 class rankings analysis 

January, 22, 2014
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When it comes to Big 12 programs, Texas is still the top dog in the ESPN class rankings -- but for how long?

The Longhorns held on to the No. 13 spot nationally and the top spot in the conference, but Oklahoma is surging. The Sooners moved up to No. 16 and are hoping to gain more steam with two weeks remaining until national signing day.

Baylor remains in the top 20 at No. 18, and Oklahoma State dropped one spot, from No. 25 to No. 26. Texas Tech (No. 35) and West Virginia (No. 37) remain in the top 40. Here is a more in-depth look at the Big 12 class rankings:


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Most important targets: Big 12 

January, 8, 2014
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With less than 30 days till national signing day, Big 12 programs are finalizing their recruiting classes. Some are looking to build to their classes at the 11th hour while others are trying to hold on to the commits they have.

Feb. 5 will be a huge day for all the programs in the conference, but with the help of verbal pledges from some of the following targets, a good class could turn into a great class. Here is a look at the most important remaining 2014 target for each Big 12 school.

Baylor
ATH Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau)
6-foot-2, 194 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: No. 45
It’s been a good year for Baylor, so all that’s needed right now is for the Bears to keep their future stars in green and gold. Hall has been a Baylor commit since last February but has been a major target of the SEC, particularly Alabama and Texas A&M. Hall has said that his love for Baylor and Texas A&M is split down the middle, which means the Bears must work on keeping an important player who can play on both sides of the ball. Expected to play wide receiver in college, Hall lined up as a defensive back at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

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Big 12 recruiting storylines: Dec. 19 

December, 19, 2013
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With the first day of the mid-year transfer signing period in the books, Big 12 schools managed to pick up some quality players. Twenty-nine junior college players signed letters of intent to nine of the 10 schools in the conference.

Texas Tech scored the most signees with five. Josh Keys (Seminary, Miss./Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College) was one of the bigger names to sign, as he’s the No. 4 juco safety in the country. Other new Red Raiders include offensive tackle Dontae Levingston (Harbor City, Calif./Santa Monica College), wide receiver Devin Lauderdale (Corsicana, Texas/Navarro College) and defensive tackles Keland McElrath (Clarksdale, Miss./Coahoma Community College) and Marcus Smith (Highland, Kan./Highland Community College).

Here are some of the more intriguing storylines involving teams and players -- new and future -- in the conference:

K-State’s juco reputation lives on

The last thing Kansas State’s reputation did on Wednesday was take a hit.


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Midyear signings: Iowa State

December, 18, 2013
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According to Cyclones.com, the following players have signed with Iowa State:


Devron Moore S Carthage, Mo./Northeastern Oklahoma A&M
HT: 6-0 WT: 195
Positional Rank: No. 5 S Juco
Stars: 3

Jordan Harris ILB Clarksdale, Miss./Copiah-Lincoln CC
HT: 6-0 WT: 225
Positional Rank: N/A Juco
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Gabe Luna DE Garden City, Kan./Butler CC
HT: 6-2 WT: 245
Positional Rank: N/A Juco
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Wendall Taiese OT Oakland, Calif./Laney College
HT: 6-6 WT: 345
Positional Rank: N/A Juco
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big 12 signing day storylines 

December, 17, 2013
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Consider the countdown a go.

With 50 days from national signing day, a lot of questions about star players have been answered. Some questions, however, are still left to be answered.

Here are 10 signing day storylines that could affect recruiting classes throughout the Big 12:


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Big 12 recruiting storylines: Dec. 12 

December, 12, 2013
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With the high school playoffs coming to an end and junior college bowl games behind us, it’s time for many athletes to put recruiting back in the forefront. Several athletes are either in the middle of finishing up their official visit schedules, or they’re in the right mindset to make the big announcement that will shape their lives for the next few years.

Here are some attractive storylines in the Big 12:

Four-star DT still tight with Texas?

This weekend marks the big banquet weekend for Texas, an important event when many commits come to Austin and several targets look to take official visit. With Mack Brown expected to announce his resignation very soon, this weekend could also serve as a time to keep an eye out for Texas commits who choose to reopen their recruiting because of Brown’s departure.


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Big 12 class rankings analysis 

December, 11, 2013
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Two Big 12 teams made positive moves in the latest ESPN class rankings. West Virginia cracked the top 40, coming in at No. 39, and Oklahoma State continued its ascension, climbing from No. 24 to No. 22.

Texas still holds the No. 8 spot, while Baylor remains at No. 16. Oklahoma fell one spot from No. 23 to No. 24, and Texas Tech remained in the top 40 at No. 36.

Here is a more in-depth look at the Big 12 class rankings:

Trending up: West Virginia and Iowa State both saw spikes in their 2014 recruiting, but the Mountaineers are the hottest of the two, particularly after picking up ESPN 300 athlete Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), the top-ranked recruit in the state of Pennsylvania. West Virginia also landed junior college quarterback Skyler Howard (White Settlement, Texas/Riverside Community College), who threw for more than 3,100 yards and 33 touchdowns this season. Let’s also give credit to Iowa State, who scored five commitments in the first 10 days of the month, the latest being junior college defenders Jordan Harris (Wesson, Miss./Copiah-Lincoln Community College), an inside linebacker, and Gabe Luna (Garden City, Kan./Butler Community College), a defensive end.


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Most important targets: Big 12 

December, 10, 2013
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Most of the Big 12 programs have all but filled their 2014 recruiting classes, sans one or two spots, and national signing day in February is expected to be a great day. There’s still plenty of room to add players for TCU, Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma, but all 10 teams in the conference can improve their stock with one or two ESPN 300 commits from now until Feb. 5.

Each school can truly benefit from specific targets. Here is a look at some of the most important targets who could end up signing Big 12 national letters of intent.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

December, 9, 2013
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Baylor needed Oklahoma to top Oklahoma State in the annual Bedlam Series, but when Saturday came to an end, the Bears were the new Big 12 champion. While Baylor didn’t add to its recruiting tally for the 2014 class, TCU, West Virginia, Iowa State and Kansas landed commitments throughout the week. The Cyclones picked up three pledges, while the Horned Frogs and Jayhawks added two apiece.

Here are some of this past week’s highlights:


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Big 12 class ranking analysis 

November, 20, 2013
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There were no changes from last week for Big 12 teams in the RecruitingNation class rankings, but with December rapidly approaching -- and with the Thanksgiving holiday next week -- look for a potential shakeup, as more uncommitted, high-profile targets announce their college futures.

Texas, at No. 8, still holds the top spot from the conference. Baylor is No. 16, followed by Oklahoma (No. 22), Oklahoma State (No. 27) and Texas Tech (No. 35). Per our Big 12 rankings, West Virginia holds down the sixth spot in the conference, followed by Kansas, TCU, Iowa State and Kansas State.

Here is a more in-depth look at the Big 12 class rankings:

Trending up: This is right around the time when Oklahoma sees a spike in its recruiting, and the timing has been right on schedule. The Sooners have landed five commitments in the month of November, the latest being junior college outside linebacker Devante Bond (Roseville, Calif./Sierra College). In previous years, Oklahoma has started slow and finished strong in recruiting, and there are still a few top-ranked players available. Among the ESPN 300 athletes are cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell), running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) and Steven Parker II (Jenks, Okla./Jenks).


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