NCF On The Trail: Josh Mabin

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.

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.

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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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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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

October, 14, 2013
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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.

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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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Best Big 12 classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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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.

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Big 12 recruiting mailbag

September, 6, 2013
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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 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.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

August, 26, 2013
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Big 12Recruiting wise, the weekend was somewhat slow for the Big 12. Unofficial visits were minimal throughout the conference, as the focus for many students was on preparation for Monday, being the first day of school. When the weekend concluded, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State managed to score important commitments.

Here is a look at the weekend wrap on Big 12 recruiting.


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Big 12 recruiting storylines: Aug. 22 

August, 22, 2013
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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.


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Mabin gives Cowboys an aggressive ILB 

August, 21, 2013
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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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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

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Texas A&M has 14 commits in the 2014 class, and the Aggies have done a good job of addressing needs at multiple positions. With seven months left until signing day, they are still pursuing plenty of players. Here's five positions where they could use another player or two in the class:

Defensive end: The Aggies are pursuing multiple defensive ends in the 2014 class and at the top of their want list is ESPN 300 defensive end Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin), the No. 1 prospect in Texas. They also have an offer out to ESPN 300 prospects Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) among others.

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