NCF On The Trail: Corey Avery

Today will be the busiest of the year for fax machines. That’s because it’s national signing day, and recruits across the country will be faxing in their letters of intent.

It’s always an exciting day for college football fans. And there’s plenty to be excited about in the Big 12.

Below is a breakdown of the most exciting element from each of the 10 Big 12 recruiting classes:

Baylor

What to get excited about: The wide receivers

The players: K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), Ishmael Zamora (Houston/Alief Elsik), Chris Platt (Willis, Texas/Willis)

The skinny: The Bears have one of the best WR classes in the country, with four players ranked in the ESPN 300. With Antwan Goodley also back in Waco, QB Bryce Petty should have a big, signing day smile on his face.

Iowa State

What to get excited about: A blue-chip wideout

The player: Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale)

The skinny: Elite skill talent has come at premium in Ames the last few years. But that’s exactly what Iowa State is getting in Lazard, an ESPN 300 prospect who had offers from Notre Dame, Nebraska and Stanford. If Lazard comes ready to play, new offensive coordinator Mark Mangino will have a dynamic complement to pair with No. 1 wideout Quenton Bundrage.

Kansas

What to get excited about: The replacements for RB James Sims

The players: Traevohn Wrench (Gardner, Kan./Gardner Edgerton), Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter)

The skinny: The Jayhawks graduated their only All-Big 12 performer this past season in Sims. But they prevailed in a pair of hard-fought recruiting battles to land four-star running backs Wrench and Avery. Wrench was the first commit in the class, and gave coach Charlie Weis a player to build the rest of the class around. Then this week, Weis beat out Nebraska, Ohio State and LSU, among others, to reel in Avery. The one-two combination of Wrench and Avery is reason to be optimistic about the future of the KU offense, even without Sims.

Kansas State

What to get excited about: Junior-college impact

The players: Terrell Clinkscales (Dodge City, Kansas), Andre Davis (Santa Rosa, Calif./Santa Rosa), D’Vonta Derricott (Garden City, Kan./Garden City), Danzel McDaniel (Dodge City, Kan.)

The skinny: The Wildcats have a returning core capable of contending for the Big 12 title. In this recruiting class, they’ll be adding four players in the ESPN Junior College 50 to aid that cause. K-State swiped Clinkscales from Nebraska, and he could team with Travis Britz to form a stout one-two punch at DT. Davis could be the perfect complement opposite wideout Tyler Lockett. Derricott (OLB) and McDaniel (CB) should help the defense.

Oklahoma

What to get excited about: Backfield firepower

The player: Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom)

The skinny: The Sooners closed as strong as any program in the country, and that included plucking the No. 53 overall recruit away from the West Coast powers. Mixon, together with last year’s No. 3 RB Keith Ford and budding dual-threat QB Trevor Knight, could be a devastating rushing force in the Big 12 for years to come.

Oklahoma State

What to get excited about: The linebackers

The players: Gyasi Akem (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow), Josh Mabin (Spring, Texas/Klein Oak), Kirk Tucker (Tucker, Ga./Tucker), Devante Averette (Melvindale, Mich./Ellsworth Community College), Justin Phillips (Pearland, Texas/Pearland)

The skinny: The Cowboys graduated a pair of all-conference linebackers in Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis, who played big parts in Oklahoma State’s defensive turnaround. But impressive help is on the way. Akem is a ESPN 300 prospect, and Tucker, the other outside linebacker in the class, ended up at Oklahoma State after failing to gain admission to Stanford. Averette should provide instant impact on the inside, and Mabin is a four-star recruit.

TCU

What to get excited about: The offensive skill talent

The players: Foster Sawyer (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal), Grayson Muehlstein (Decatur, Texas/Decatur), Shaun Nixon (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis), Corey McBride (Geismar, La.,/Dutchtown), Emanuel Porter (Dallas/Lincoln)

The skinny: The top five players in TCU’s class are offensive skill players, providing help where the Horned Frogs really need it. Sawyer and Muehlstein could battle for the starting QB job right away. The opportunity for playing time is there for receivers McBridge and Porter, too. TCU also pulled off a coup Tuesday by flipping Nixon, a four-star RB, from Texas A&M.

Texas

What to get excited about: Possible QB of the future

The player: Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer)

The skinny: Charlie Strong’s quickest path to putting Texas back on top is finding a solution at QB that eluded Mack Brown the last four years. Heard, an ESPN 300 quarterback who won two state titles in high school, could very well emerge as the answer.

Texas Tech

What to get excited about: A shutdown corner

The player: Nigel Bethel II (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington)

The skinny: The Red Raiders lose three starters from their secondary, but they have a player who can come in and help right away in Bethel. The ESPN 300 prospect is one of the better pure coverage corners in the country. To win in the Big 12, you have to defend the pass. And Bethel can defend the pass.

West Virginia

What to get excited about: The quarterbacks

The players: Skyler Howard (White Settlement, Texas/Riverside Community College), William Crest (Baltimore/Dunbar)

The skinny: Coach Dana Holgorsen struggled to replace Geno Smith last year, using three quarterbacks to limited success. But Holgorsen is bringing in a pair of talented players at the position who could be immediate factors. Howard was the No. 3 dual-threat juco QB in the country and is already enrolled for spring ball. Crest is the No. 11 high school dual-threat QB nationally.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

February, 3, 2014
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The final week of official visits didn’t disappoint, as four Big 12 schools combined for eight commitments going into Wednesday’s signing day.

TCU was the big winner, landing four players in the 2014 class. Here are some of this past week’s highlights:

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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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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Key recruiting visits -- Big Ten 

January, 24, 2014
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There are only two visit weekends left before signing day, so teams are scrambling to get the last few chances in front of prospects. Here is a look at the bigger weekend visitors within the Big Ten.


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Key recruiting visits -- Big 12 

January, 17, 2014
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The dead period is over, and official visits are set. The next three weekends will be huge for players as they look to finalize their college plans.

Here are 10 names to watch as they take their official visits to Big 12 schools. The names are in alphabetical order.


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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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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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Five recruiting needs for Texas' 2014 class

December, 10, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Immediately after returning from Waco, Texas’ coaching staff hit the road on Sunday to begin visiting its committed recruits and targets. Mack Brown is expected to join them today for in-home visits.

The Longhorns picked up commit No. 23 on Monday but still have plenty of work to do. Here’s a look at the positions where Texas needs the most help going into 2014. It’s a safe bet Texas’ final pledges will come from these five spots:

1. Quarterback

After putting this move off for two consecutive offseasons, Texas needs to bring in a transfer quarterback. The Longhorns briefly pursued Bo Wallace, Nick Marshall and other juco options in recent years, but opted to stick with Case McCoy as the backup.

Now McCoy is graduating, David Ash is recovering, Tyrone Swoopes is still inexperienced and touted commit Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) won’t arrive until the summer.

There are no five-star, big-time options at the junior college level this year. So Texas’ best bet is pursuing a graduate transfer. One QB that Texas and several others major programs are keeping an eye on is Florida State’s Jacob Coker, who would have two seasons of eligibility if he leaves.

2. Defensive end

Jackson Jeffcoat is off to the pros. Cedric Reed could opt to leave early and join him. If he does, Texas will need an end or two who is ready to play right away in 2014. Hence its recent interest in junior college prospects.

New Mexico Military Institute teammates Edmond Boateng and Terry Ayeni will both visit Texas this week. Boateng, ESPN’s No. 3 ranked juco defensive end prospect, arrives Wednesday and will also visit Arizona State this weekend. Ayeni will be in town Friday for the banquet. They want to play together at the next level if possible.

ESPN 300 commit Derick Roberson, out of San Antonio Brennan, has the potential to play right away, and Texas will keep pushing for Solomon Thomas. But guys who can enroll in January are a must now.

3. Running back

Next season, Texas will enter fall camp with two senior running backs and a junior, Johnathan Gray, who might not be healthy until August following a torn Achilles. That has made taking three running backs in this class a priority. Three are currently committed, but it’s an interesting group.


D’Onta Foreman , (Texas City, Texas/Texas City) had a huge senior year, but could be a close call in terms of qualifying. Kevin Shorter (Newton, Texas/Newton) suffered a spinal injury this fall that could end his playing career. Longtime pledge Donald Catalon (Houston/Eisenhower) is solid, but has shown potential as a DB as well.

So Texas is looking. Two names to keep an eye on are Corey Avery, the Dallas Carter teammate of pledge Cameron Hampton, and recent Arizona State decommitment Darrel Williams (Marrero, La./Ehret).

4. Defensive back

Of the many ESPN 300 targets still uncommitted, you’d have to say Jamal Adams is at the top of Texas’ board. Tony Brown is a high priority, too, but Adams is a must-get. He’d play right away and possible even start for the Longhorns in 2014.

Adams keeps to himself when it comes to this process, but at the moment this seems to be a battle between Florida, LSU and Texas. Texas already has two safety pledges in Jason Hall (Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie) and John Bonney (Houston/Lamar), but Adrian Phillips is set to graduate and the Longhorns haven’t exactly received consistent play from their other safeties this season.

5. Defensive tackle

This priority gets bumped down the list after four-star defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) announced his commitment to Texas on Monday, but Texas isn’t done shopping at this spot.

Longtime four-star commit Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren) has taken official visits to UCLA, Arizona State and Ole Miss this fall. Since Lealaimatafao is looking around, so will Texas. The Longhorn staff must operate under the assumption he’s no longer committed. If Lealaimatafao doesn’t reaffirm his pledge this weekend at the banquet, don’t be surprised if Texas pursues other options, including at the junior college level.

Henderson, Jake McMillon (Abilene, Texas/Abilene) and Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/St. Augustine) are solid, but losing Chris Whaley and the transfer of Ashton Dorsey made this spot a need, and 2012 signees Paul Boyette Jr. and Alex Norman haven’t panned out.

Big 12 class rankings analysis 

December, 4, 2013
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Oklahoma State, on the field, is one of the hottest teams in the country. From a recruiting standpoint, the Cowboys also have been making waves and this week managed to crack the top 25 of the RecruitingNation class rankings. Oklahoma State, with some assistance from the release of the ESPN Junior College 50, moved up to No. 24.

Aside from Oklahoma State, there wasn’t much movement from Big 12 schools. Texas held on to the No. 8 spot, and Baylor remained at No. 16. Oklahoma slipped a spot, from No. 22 to No. 23, and Texas Tech stayed at No. 36. Here's a look at the conference's rankings Insider.

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Most important targets: Big 12 

October, 22, 2013
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Not surprisingly, Big 12 programs have filled their rosters with ESPN 300 recruits. But, as we’ve come to learn, success on the field doesn’t always come down to how many stars you acquire each recruiting cycle. It’s about filling needs with the types of players coveted by that particular program.

Here is a look at the most important target for each Big 12 school, which features some highly ranked recruits and other recruits with no ranking at all.


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Big 12 recruiting mailbag

October, 11, 2013
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This week’s Big 12 recruiting mailbag focuses on Baylor’s offensive success, Kansas’ progress in recruiting, the status of an ESPN Junior 300 player and more. We encourage all to send questions each week, either via Twitter to @DamonSayles or @ESPNWilkerson or by email at dsaylesespn@gmail.com or wilkerson.espn@gmail.com.

From @InTheNameOfBU: Do you see Baylor sustaining their success in offense for quite a while? If so, why? #AskBig12

As long as head coach Art Briles, offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery and passing game coordinator/offensive recruiting coordinator Kendal Briles stick around, Baylor shouldn’t have any problems offensively. It’s really scary to think that Wofford -- and not a school like West Virginia -- has held Baylor to its lowest point total -- 69. The Bears have all kinds of offensive weapons now with quarterback Bryce Petty, running backs Lache Seastrunk and Shock Linwood and receivers Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese, and if they sign committed ESPN 300 players in receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), expect more of the same in the next couple of years.

From @Roberrttthom: How much do you think the early offer for 2015 DT Marquise Overton helps OK State's chances to land him?

In speaking with Overton, I know that he’s very appreciative of the Oklahoma State offer. However, I can’t say that it’s his absolute favorite right now. Reason being, he truly doesn’t has a favorite right now. The ESPN Junior 300 defensive tackle has additional offers from Baylor, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, Oregon State and others, and all schools are in the running. Overton did say that he really likes Oklahoma State. The team is playing well right now, and it’s close to his home in Jenks, Okla. Keep an eye on how the 6-foot-1, 301-pound tackle gauges his schools of interest.

From @cr93ia: Any update on the buzz post Rhoads’ postgame press conference and just in general? #AskBig12

If you’re the Texas Longhorns, you’re not listening; you’re celebrating a win. If you’re pro-Paul Rhoads, you’re probably still a little upset about what happened last week. There’s nothing that can be done now, but Rhoads will have his Cyclones amped up for Saturday’s game against Texas Tech. Recruiting-wise, a few players are still eyeing every move Iowa State makes. The Cyclones have offered players like ESPN 300 defensive end Dewayne Hendrix (O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon), ESPN 300 outside linebacker Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central), four-star outside linebacker Nile Sykes (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) and four-star running back Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter), and they’re hoping to land at least one of these targets.

From @ttoulouse94: Any word on #KU making progress with WR or O-line prospects?

Recruiting with Kansas can be seen in two ways: Either a recruit will give the program the side eye for its subpar play, or a recruit will look at the subpar play as an opportunity to see immediate playing time. The Jayhawks are hoping to land three-star athlete Darious Crawley (Houston/Cypress Ridge), who can play receiver at the next level. As for the offensive line, Kansas will be looking in the junior college ranks for right-now type of players. Juco linemen Avery Gennesy (Southaven, Miss./East Mississippi Community College), Luke Hayes (El Dorado, Kan./Butler Community College) and David Hedelin (San Francisco/City College of San Francisco) all have Kansas offers.

From @KookanHere: #askbig12 Will Dana Holgorsen be the head coach of WVU next season?

West Virginia is 3-3 on the season. Just because the Mountaineers were rolled by Baylor doesn’t mean Holgorsen’s job is in jeopardy. Baylor has put up huge points against everybody. Holgorsen will be back next season to coach his new recruits in receivers Lamar Parker (Miami/Booker T. Washington), Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) and outside linebacker Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) -- all ESPN 300 prospects. If Holgorsen is lucky, he also will be coaching ESPN 300 athlete Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), who is strongly considering the Mountaineers.

Big 12 2014 recruiting scenarios 

October, 8, 2013
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Even for schools like Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas, who all have recruiting classes ranked in the top 40, there is still a lot of work to be done for the Class of 2014. Here is a look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for every school in the Big 12.

Baylor
Best-case scenario: The Bears continue to put up gaudy numbers on offense, which allows them to round out one of their best-ever classes with a few more gems. One recruit they would love to add is Randall Cunningham II (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman). On defense, one of Baylor’s top targets is ESPN 300 cornerback Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne). Texas struggling this season sure does help BU's recruiting.


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Big 12 class rankings analysis 

October, 2, 2013
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The momentum train continues to roll right along in Lubbock, Texas, where first-year Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury has the Red Raiders off to a 4-0 start.

Their winning ways have benefited their recruiting efforts, too, as they have the No. 31 class overall in the latest ESPN RecruitingNation class rankings and have picked up three commitments in the last two weeks.

If they are to jump any of their conference foes in the rankings, it will have to be another week since there wasn’t any movement with the Big 12 schools.

Texas continues to lead the way with the No. 7 class, followed by Baylor at No. 17, Oklahoma at No. 22, Oklahoma State at No. 29 and West Virginia at No. 40.

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