NCF On The Trail: Gyasi Akem

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.

Big 12 signing day storylines 

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
8:00
AM ET
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:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Recruits react: OSU commits pleased 

November, 24, 2013
11/24/13
3:11
AM ET
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.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

October, 14, 2013
10/14/13
8:00
AM ET


Last week wasn’t full of commitments for Big 12 programs, but it did yield an important verbal pledge for one team in Oklahoma. Speaking of Texas’ neighbor to the north, the Sooners suffered their first loss to the Longhorns in four years on Saturday. A look at why that victory was so important for UT and who exactly that commitment was is in this week’s Big 12 weekend wrap.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Big 12's 2014 impact freshmen 

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
8:00
AM ET
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.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Best Big 12 classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
9/10/13
8:00
AM ET


There is still plenty of work for every Big 12 program to do before the completion of the 2014 recruiting cycle. But one can begin to at least paint an outline for how each class is going to look come February.

Here is a look at which Big 12 teams have the best 2014 recruiting class at each position.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Big 12 recruiting mailbag

September, 6, 2013
9/06/13
11:00
AM ET
In this week’s Big 12 mailbag we take a look at a few questions surrounding the Longhorns, including who they could get as their next commitment? Also, what are the early prognostications on one of Missouri’s top players?

@TrentonAMakare: Who is a likely commit for #UT? Are there any 4 stars they might still get out of this senior class?

Trenton, there is still a ton of four-star talent out there with high interest in the Longhorns. Some of the more realistic names include ESPN 300 recruits Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell), Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie) and four-star John Bonney (Houston/Lamar). As for the most likely to commit, I’d say Bonney and/or Freeman at this point. Bonney could pull the trigger fairly soon. Freeman will wait until after a few official visits.

@DJS_09: Will the Horns grab both Bonney and Freeman for their 2014 class?

It’s possible. You just wonder if one commits before the other, will that turn the other away. The good news for the Longhorns is they are in good position to land at least one of them. I just don’t see a scenario happening where they don’t get one. I think Bonney will end up committing somewhere first, and I think it will come down to Baylor and UT. Freeman was going to commit before the season but has decided to take some official visits first. That isn’t exactly great news for UT, which has been considered his favorite for months now. LSU is a sneaky sleeper here.

@24Randazzo_J: How do you think Hale Hentges will end up in college?

Hentges, for those not aware, is an ESPN Junior 300 tight end out of Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias High School, who is rated as the No. 3 tight end in the country. He already has offers from Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Memphis, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Tulsa and Wisconsin. Hentges is a prospect that, because of his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame, could play tight end or defensive end in college. He played both very well last season. As a tight end, he caught 43 passes for 427 yards and seven touchdowns. As a defensive end, he recorded 62 tackles, seven sacks and five pass deflections. It’s going to be tough for Missouri to keep him in state, especially when programs like Stanford and Notre Dame are showing serious interest and have produced some of the top tight ends in the country over the past few seasons.

@KSUWinter: W/ Derricott committed to KState, do they have the upper hand for Errol Clarke? #emaw

It puts them in a better position, certainly. But the Wildcats do not seem to be the favorite right now for the talented outside linebacker from Garden City Community College.
D'Vonta Derricott, for those not aware, is one of the country's top junior college linebackers, who committed to KSU on Aug. 7. Having him on board should give Clarke more incentive to follow his teammate to Manhattan, Kan. But Wisconsin seems to have the upper hand on Clarke’s recruitment right now.

@Roberrttthom: What would the addition of Kenny Young do for the Cowboys recruiting class? His interest has really increased lately. #AskBig12

Getting a player the caliber of Young on board would greatly improve OSU’s chances of landing a top 15-20 class at the very least. The Pokes have done a great job recruiting linebackers so far this cycle with the verbal pledges of ESPN 300 OLB Gyasi Akem (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow) and four-star ILB Josh Mabin (Spring, Texas/Klein Oak). If OSU can continue to play defense like it did against Mississippi State and prove to Young that it can be a force on that side of the ball as well, it could go a long way toward his decision. One of the main concerns I’d have if I were OSU are the teams that are also in pursuit. They include heavyweights like Alabama, Florida, Florida State, LSU and Michigan.

Big 12 recruiting mailbag

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
10:00
AM ET
This week’s Big 12 recruiting mailbag takes a look at a recent Iowa State transfer, a few Oklahoma State topics and when the Longhorns’ 2014 class will start reflecting its “DBU” ways.

John Goorsky (Ames, Iowa): What are your thoughts about the recent addition of D'Vario Montgomery to the Cyclones?

William Wilkerson: I think it’s a very important pickup for Paul Rhoads and the future of the program. Montgomery should transfer seamlessly given his history with Cyclones starting quarterback Sam Richardson. The two were high school teammates in Winter Park, Fla., where Montgomery was a two-time all-state selection with 21 touchdown receptions as a junior and senior.

Not only will it benefit them immediately but it also helps give someone like ESPN 300 receiver Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale) more incentive not to look elsewhere. Just because Lazard is committed to ISU right now doesn’t mean schools are going to stop pursuing him. If anything they’ll come after him harder. Having Montgomery on board, as someone who could take some attention of Lazard in future packages, could entice Lazard to stay put.

Robert Thomas: What will Oklahoma State have to do to move into a top 25 class?

WW: Keep doing what they are doing and live up to the expectations that have been placed on them for the upcoming season. It’s really that simple. If the Cowboys win like they should, the recruits will come. They especially need to win the marquee matchups at home, when their sidelines should be packed with official visitors. Getting guys like ESPN 300 receivers Malachi Dupre and Cameron Sims on campus to see the renovations around the football facilities would be huge.

Mike Gundy has recruited well in-state so far, with the commitments of Devon Thomas and Gyasi Akem, the two Broken Arrow teammates. The Cowboys are still in the mix for four-star safety Steven Parker, as well. Getting a commitment from any three of these recruits would greatly increase their chances of finishing with a top 25 class.

@pt2479: How good can @RichardLagow be in this system?

WW: If the transfer quarterback from UConn is given the opportunity, I think he could be productive. He’s larger than most of the quarterbacks that have come through Mike Gundy’s system, but that’s not to say he wouldn’t be capable of moving the chains like others before him.

The Cowboys recruited him out of Plano (Texas) High School in 2013, so there must have been some inclination that he could work out in the system, even though a scholarship offer was never extended. He was actually going to be working in more of an up-tempo offense at UConn this season as the Huskies transition from a pro-style offense. But he’s going to have to beat out some stiff competition after he redshirts this season. Class of 2014 commitment Mason Rudolph (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) is the No. 7 pocket passer in the nation.

@1jaydub: When does Texas start focusing on DBs for 2014 to get back to DBU Football?

WW: Defensive back has been a focus of Texas’ coaching staff from the jump. They just haven’t gotten the commitments ... yet. They’ve got two commitments in four-star CB Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) and three-star safety Jason Hall (Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie), a former Nebraska commit. But some big dominos are about to fall that will tell the tale.

John Bonney (Houston/Lamar) surprised Texas’ staff last weekend with a visit. He wants to commit somewhere before the season. ESPN 300 safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie), who has long had Texas No. 1, will decide sometime during the season after he takes some official visits. ESPN 300 safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) will officially visit Texas this fall. And the Longhorns still feel like they are in the mix for ESPN 300 CB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen). If the Longhorns get any of these four they’ll feel much better about where things stand.

A slow week of recruiting took a turn for the better for Oklahoma State on Wednesday. The Cowboys landed a 2014 commitment and also found out a 2013 three-star player was transferring from the East coast.

Oklahoma State highlights this week’s Big 12 storylines, but there’s also news about West Virginia and top 2014 and 2015 players who could be big-time Big 12 assets.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video
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).


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

As football season nears, most of the Big 12 sits in good position with their 2014 recruiting classes. But there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Here is a must-have recruit for each team. These prospects would go a long way toward improving their particular class.

Baylor
S John Bonney (Houston/Lamar)
6-0, 182
ESPN 300 rank: N/A

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

As summer wraps up and Oklahoma turns its focus to the 2013 season, we've learned plenty from the Sooners during the summer recruiting cycle. OU has 11 commitments, including four ESPN 300 prospects, yet there continues to be concern among Sooner Nation about the state of recruiting in Norman, Okla. Here are five things we learned during the Sooners' summer months on the recruiting trail.

1. Bill Bedenbaugh is relentless


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Trey Roberts says yes to Oklahoma State

May, 30, 2013
5/30/13
11:02
AM ET
The Big 12 Cowboys have added a commitment from Trey Roberts (Houston/Eisenhower), multiple sources report.

Roberts is a high school quarterback who could play in the defensive secondary or wide receiver at the next level.

SMU and Utah also extended scholarship offers to the 6-foot-1, 190-pound prospect. TCU, Texas and Texas Tech showed interest.

Following Roberts' decision, Oklahoma State's now holds four verbals for 2014. A pair of four-star Broken Arrow (Okla.) High School teammates, running back Devon Thomas and outside linebacker Gyasi Akeem, and three-star linebacker Justin Phillips (Pearland, Texas/Pearland) round out the Cowboys' class.
videoOklahoma State had 23 signees for its Class of 2013. As it got closer and closer to national signing day, it looked as if the Cowboys were going to have a whole class without an in-state player.

In the final days, OSU offered Tuttle (Okla.) High defensive end Dawson Bassett, the younger brother of former OSU defensive end Cooper Bassett. Dawson signed with the Cowboys.

We’re still eight months away from national signing day 2014, but OSU is putting in major work in trying to keep the top in-state names home this time around.

The Cowboys have three commits for the Class of 2014, and two of them are from the Sooner State. They’re not just two run-of-the-mill commits, either. Running back Devon Thomas and linebacker Gyasi Akem are four-star players and teammates at Broken Arrow High School.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy wasn’t pleased with how the Cowboys attacked the Oklahoma high school scene for the Class of 2013.

He said it would change for the Class of 2014. Saturday was more proof of that as top in-state outside linebacker Gyasi Akem (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow) confirmed in a text message that he committed to the Cowboys at the school's spring game.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES