NCF On The Trail: Kansas State Wildcats

Even though almost 10 months remain until the next national singing day, teams across the Big 12 have jumped off to fast starts in putting together their 2015 classes.

To catch you up on all the recruiting storylines that have developed so far, we checked in with ESPN.com senior national recruiting writer Jeremy Crabtree and Big 12 recruiting reporter Damon Sayles for their takes:

Which team has impressed you the most with its 2015 recruiting?

Crabtree: With all of the questions West Virginia faced in the offseason and the product the Mountaineers put on the field in 2013, you would think they would be struggling out of the gate with the 2015 class. But it has been the exact opposite. WVU has 10 commitments, including from one of the best receivers in the country, Jovon Durante. West Virginia is selling kids on an opportunity to play early and make a big difference in getting the program back on track. Plus, it has gone back to its roots and mined the very familiar recruiting territory of Florida for some of its best pledges.

Sayles: As much as I like what Texas Tech and TCU have done so far, I have to tip my hat to what West Virginia has accomplished. The Mountaineers have a pair of ESPN Junior 300 players in safety Kendrell McFadden and Durante. The Mountaineers are recruiting the state of Florida well; five of the 10 pledges are from the Sunshine State. West Virginia is off to a fast start, and with the program fresh off a successful spring game, more big-time commits could be coming soon.

Who has disappointed?


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SUGAR HILL, Ga. -- With the world’s busiest airport down the road, quarterbacks from across the country flocked to the Atlanta Elite 11 regional camp on Friday at Gary Pirkle Park, including several highly regarded passers from outside the Southeast.

Part of that group was Indianapolis Decatur Central’s Tommy Stevens. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Stevens traveled more than 500 miles, but it was worth every mile because he proved he has the tools to compete with the best of the best.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: One of the best 2015 prospects in Kansas City learned a lesson about how to handle the recruiting process by watching his teammate go through it this past fall; Iowa picked up commitments earlier this week from twin offensive linemen, helping the Hawkeyes make recruiting waves in the Big Ten; and a West Coast running back is starting to move up the charts with coaches.

Moore savvy about process


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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.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Tuesday's offerings: The Tiger was already out of the bag, but that didn’t stop Deondre Clark from having his moment in the sun; it looks like the Malik McDowell saga is going to last quite a bit longer; and the defensive tackle position looks loaded in the Class of 2015.


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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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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Duke is quietly putting together a solid 2014 class, which got a whole lot better Monday after landing a pledge from an ESPN 300 receiver; Oklahoma commit Joe Mixon has long been the center of rumors about how solid his commitment is, and an unofficial visit to UCLA this weekend only fanned those flames even more.

Blue Devils score ESPN 300 WR


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Biggest flips: Big 12 

February, 3, 2014
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On Wednesday, many of the top stars of the 2014 recruiting class will transition from being college commits to college signees. Don’t be surprised if a last-minute flip or two occurs, as committed athletes will use these final hours to re-examine their choices and weigh them against new possibilities one last time.

Flipping is common in recruiting, and the Big 12 this year has had its share of players leaving for other conferences, as well as players choosing to play in the Big 12 after originally picking another conference. Here are five players who flipped to Big 12 programs and could have an impact on the college level sooner than later.


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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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Ultimate ESPN 300: The overachievers 

January, 29, 2014
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The Ultimate ESPN 300 is RecruitingNation's ranking of the best prospects since we began evaluating high school athletes in 2006. Here are five players who exceeded expectations:

QB Robert Griffin III (Baylor): Schools and evaluators missed on Griffin because they were quick to classify him as an athlete because he was an elite hurdler. We stated that "he has the arm strength to make all the throws and is an amazing athlete.” However, Baylor coach Art Briles deserves credit -- he was the only coach to offer Griffin a scholarship at quarterback early in the process while at Houston, where Griffin committed despite already having talented QBs such as Case Keenum on board. When Briles took the Baylor job, Griffin followed because he was sold on Briles' system.


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Most important targets: Big 12 

January, 28, 2014
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In eight days, many of the nation’s top athletes will seal their college futures with a signature. Between now and Feb. 5, college programs will look to do one of two things, either use a final official visit to sway an uncommitted target or do all it can to flip an already-committed player.

In the last week of recruiting, here is a look at some of the most important remaining targets who could find a home in the Big 12.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Parts of the country that are normally known for their beaches and warm winters are going to get hit by a winter storm Tuesday, which could create for some hassles on the recruiting trail; sometimes it’s best to let coaches know you plan on looking around; and Nebraska fans have complained loudly about some of their recruiting misses, but the Huskers are on a nice roll.


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Key recruiting visits -- Big 12 

January, 24, 2014
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With less than two weeks remaining until national signing day, every official visit is huge -- for the athlete and for the program. Some schools are in need of elite athletes more than others.

Here are 10 names to keep an eye on as they take their official visits to Big 12 schools:

1. ATH Lorenzo Joe (Abilene, Texas/Cooper)
Visiting: TCU


A two-hour trek eastbound to Fort Worth is making some Longhorns fans wonder -- and, perhaps, worry. Joe, an ESPN 300 athlete, has been committed to Texas since August 2012, but with the coaching transition from Mack Brown to Charlie Strong, Joe has checked out other options just to make sure Texas is the place for him. Look for TCU to roll the red -- or purple -- carpet out for him.


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National signing day is in 15 days, and while many athletes have finalized their college plans, several questions remain. Will the committed players stay committed? Will the Big 12 programs steal away some of the top players? Will the world be surprised by last-minute changes?

There will be several storylines to watch from now until signing day, but here are five to definitely keep your eyes on:


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Bryce Dixon, the nation’s No. 1 tight end prospect, has committed to USC, but that hasn’t stopped UCLA from pursuing him; Clemson’s receiver class is making a case for the best in the country; and junior college cornerback Darius White was afraid he wasn’t going to find a home after he wasn’t able to enroll at midterm, but that changed this weekend.

Trojans, Bruins duking it out for Dixon
Things have certainly gotten interesting in the battle to sign Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure tight end Bryce Dixon. The nation’s No. 1 tight end prospect committed to USC at the U.S. Army All-America Bowl, but since then rumors have continued to swirl about Dixon’s pledge. One Pac-12 coach told me Dixon publicly is telling people he’s still with the Trojans but privately he’s looking very hard at UCLA. “The key is going to be whatever team ends up stepping up and taking his teammate, cornerback Davonte Nunnery,” the coach said. “They’re a package deal.” Dixon is scheduled to visit USC this weekend, likely with Nunnery in tow, and UCLA is scheduled to get a visit on Jan. 31. Don’t be surprised, however, if some wrangling occurs and USC tries to push the visit back to the final weekend of the recruiting calendar.

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