NCF On The Trail: Chris Hardeman

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.

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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Team in transition: Oklahoma State 

November, 26, 2013
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Editor's note: New coaches inherit a blank slate and often, an empty house. But new coaches who take positions at schools rocked by scandal face special challenges. Here's a look at how Oklahoma State is rebounding from that situation.

Potentially damaging controversy graced its presence on the campus of Oklahoma State in September after Sports Illustrated unveiled a five-part expose on the Cowboys and how they were able to quickly build success with the football program. The series included interviews with more than 60 former football players and staffers past and present.


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Recruits react: OSU commits pleased 

November, 24, 2013
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Forget school affiliation for a minute. What Oklahoma State did Saturday night against Baylor was the kind of performance that will put a smile on the face of anyone who has lined up on the defensive side of the football.

Baylor entered Saturday's Big 12 clash against the Cowboys averaging 61.2 points and 684.8 yards per game. But the nation's No. 4 team ran into a defensive buzzsaw and was dominated, 49-17, in front of a raucous Boone Pickens Stadium crowd.

For nearly 46 minutes, No. 10 Oklahoma State held Baylor without a touchdown. Entering the fourth quarter, the Cowboys held a 35-3 lead over a Baylor team that has scored 70 points four times this year.

It was one of Glenn Spencer's finest moments in his first season as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator. It was also a moment that several Oklahoma State commits -- particularly the defensive pledges -- shared with their future team.


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Big 12 recruiting storylines: Nov. 14 

November, 14, 2013
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Can Texas pull one of the biggest trifectas in college football this weekend? Will Baylor land a 2014 quarterback? Kansas got out of a recruiting slump, but can it add more players? And what’s the word on one of the nation’s fastest-rising wide receivers?

Here’s a look at this week’s Big 12 storylines:


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Oklahoma State an uncelebrated success 

November, 14, 2013
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A potential conference champion is rarely considered an under-the-radar team. But in a Big 12 loaded with all kinds of attractive storylines, 8-1 Oklahoma State -- the team chosen as the preseason conference champion -- has taken a back seat to the other conference spectacles.

While the nation focuses on Baylor’s outstanding season, Oklahoma’s struggles and Texas’ resurgence from what once was called a tormented season, Oklahoma State plays the role of silent assassin.

The Cowboys might have been counted out after a loss to West Virginia, but they’ve won five straight and head into their game with Texas very much alive in the Big 12 race.

And recruits are noticing. Oklahoma State has a top-30 recruiting class for 2014, and it's hoping to land a couple more players to crack the top 25.


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Big 12 ESPN 300 analysis 

October, 29, 2013
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With the release of the latest ESPN 300, some players saw jumps while others took slight falls. And then there were some, such as one particular Houston wide receiver still looking to make a name for himself as a varsity football player, who saw their rankings skyrocket.

Here’s an update on some of the highs and lows of players either committed to, targeted by or living near Big 12 programs:

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Best Big 12 recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
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Editor's note: For a look at the national recruiter power rankings based only on Class of 2014 success, click here.

The best college football coaches will tell you that when it comes to recruiting, their business is an art. It’s a craft you must perfect if you want to have the best players commit and ultimately sign. Recruiting isn’t for everybody, but those who are good at it -- particularly for building the 2014 class -- should be recognized, as the business is extremely competitive.

Here are 10 of the top recruiters from the Big 12.


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Big 12's 2014 impact freshmen 

September, 25, 2013
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More than ever we are seeing a growing number of freshmen make instant impacts across the college football landscape. Here is a look at a few freshmen that could make a difference for their respective Big 12 programs in 2014.


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Hours after Sports Illustrated released a report on Tuesday alleging that former Oklahoma State players received improper funding from coaches and boosters, ESPN 300 running back Devon Thomas (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow) delivered welcome news to the Cowboys faithful.

“Pokes, ride or die,” Thomas said.


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Each week Big Ten recruiting reporters Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival outline a few big high school games involving Big Ten recruits and commits. Here is this week’s list:


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Big 12 class rankings analysis 

September, 4, 2013
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A rough opening week for defending conference champion Kansas State could keep it from sniffing the top 40 of the ESPN class rankings.

The five Big 12 schools in the ESPN class rankings stayed put with Texas at No. 7, Baylor at No. 17, Oklahoma at No. 22, Oklahoma State at No. 29 and Texas Tech at No. 31.

Here is a look at where the Wildcats go from here and a few more notes concerning the Big 12:

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Big 12 recruiting mailbag

August, 30, 2013
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This week’s Big 12 recruiting mailbag takes a look at one of the nation's top defensive ends, the thoughts of a possible Sooner State connection with Texas' largest city and more. We encourage all to send questions each week, either via Twitter to @DamonSayles or @ESPNWilkerson or via email at dsaylesespn@gmail.com or wilkerson.espn@gmail.com.

From @taylormidkiff: How realistic is it that TCU lands Myles Garrett?

While TCU is high on Garrett’s list, I don’t know if the Horned Frogs are high enough on the totem pole. The nation’s No. 7 player is planning on visiting Alabama, Texas A&M, Florida State and Ohio State before making a final decision. If TCU can lure Garrett away from those four powerhouses, it'll be one of the program’s biggest moves in recruiting in years. At 6-foot-5 and 247 pounds, Garrett is the real deal and could be a valuable member of the defensive line. The one advantage the Horned Frogs have is that they’re very close to Garrett’s home in Arlington, Texas.

From @Roberrttthom: What will the addition of Chris Hardeman, Keenen Brown and Josh Mabin do for the Cowboys recruiting in the Houston area?

First off, Oklahoma State scored three power players in Hardeman, Brown and Mabin, and all three can see playing time early in their college careers. The commitments can do nothing but help Oklahoma State’s popularity in the Houston area. The Cowboys have done fairly well in the Dallas and San Antonio areas in previous years, but Houston has belonged to other programs. Assistant coaches like Van Malone, Tim Duffie and Glenn Spencer can help to change that.

From @MichaelW_OKST: Does it appear that OSU is surpassing OU as the football school on Oklahoma?

Our own Tom Luginbill likes to talk about programs having a “cool factor.” Right now, Oklahoma State has the cool factor over Oklahoma. Offensive players want to play in a fast-paced, high-scoring offense, and defensive players want to make their names in a Big 12 conference loaded with high-octane opponents. I think Oklahoma is still the place where many players -- particularly within the state -- lean to first. The conference championships and learning under coach Bob Stoops is reason enough. However, keep an eye out on the Cowboys for the next couple of years. Mike Gundy has this team on a mission.

From Jeff Martin: What is Solomon Thomas going to do? Does Texas have a shot?

Texas has a very good shot at the nation’s No. 5 defensive end. That’s the good news for Longhorns fans; the bad news, however, is that Stanford, Alabama and several other schools have a good shot, as well. Right now, Thomas is focused on doing his part to win football games for his team. Look for Thomas to finalize some official visits soon, and don’t be surprised if Texas is in his final two or three schools. Whether or not the Longhorns will land the 6-3, 256-pound bookend still remains something of a mystery.
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As the days go by, Oklahoma State’s 2014 defensive recruiting class has gotten better and better. In a conference where offense gets most of the ink, the Cowboys are looking for players to put offenses in check.

Four-star inside linebacker Josh Mabin (Spring, Texas/Klein Oak) is one of those players. Now at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Mabin adds to a 2014 class that already features four-star defenders in cornerback Chris Hardeman (Houston/Alief Taylor) and outside linebacker Gyasi Akem (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow), as well as high three-star defensive end Jordan Brailford (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington).


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Three of the best offensive weapons the state of Texas has to offer, regardless of class, committed to three different Big 12 programs this past week. Those recruits, as well as a look at a startling number of big-time uncommitted prospects left in the state, highlight this week’s top Big 12 storylines:

Baylor has 'it'

“It” at Baylor can stand for a few things. It could be the new football stadium being constructed on the banks of the Brazos River or the offense that has annually become one of the nation’s most prolific.

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