NCF On The Trail: Kirk Tucker

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.

Key recruiting visits -- Big 12 

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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.

Pac-12 recruiting storylines: Oct. 17 

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Several Pac-12 programs have an opportunity to make statements on the recruiting trail this weekend, headlined by Arizona State hosting Washington, and including USC's trip to Notre Dame and the biggest clash in the conference -- UCLA visiting Stanford. The following day, the B2G West Coast Bowl will draw plenty of interest, as Pac-12 commits and targets are separated into two teams for the late January all-star game.

Manny being Manny

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Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

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Though several Pac-12 teams gained commitments over the past week, Stanford stole the show with a huge pickup on Saturday. Wednesday’s class rankings reflect the Cardinal’s big day, as David Shaw’s program jumped several spots and widened the gap between its top class and Arizona, which holds firm at No. 2 in the conference.

Trending up: Stanford

The Cardinal moved from No. 30 to No. 27, thanks to the commitments of three-star defenders Joey Alfieri (Portland, Ore./Jesuit), Kirk Tucker (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) and Bobby Okereke (Tustin, Calif./Foothill). Stanford already holds the Pac-12’s top recruiting class and could be poised to close in a big way, as ESPN 300 prospects Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Tex./Coppell), Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham), Garrett Dickerson (Oradell, NJ/Bergen Catholic) and Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian) all have the Cardinal on their short lists.

Trending down: Oregon

Don’t expect the Ducks to stay down for long, as they are sure to shoot up the rankings when official visits begin and that high-powered attack and those flashy uniforms hit the field this fall. But for now, things haven’t been going the Ducks' way on the recruiting trail. They lost a big commitment two weeks ago when ESPN 300 linebacker Jordan Hoiem (Wailuku, Hawaii/Baldwin) made the decision to quit football. In state, the Ducks weren’t able to lock up the top talent, as Alfieri is headed to Stanford while ESPN 300 defensive end Connor Humphreys (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic) never received an Oregon offer.

One to watch: Connor Humphreys


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Weekend wrap: Pac-12 

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It was another busy weekend in the Pac-12 as a number of programs reeled in verbal commitments. Utah pulled in three-star receiver Jeremy McNichol, Arizona State continued its hot August and Stanford posted one of the most impressive days of the 2013 recruiting calendar.

Biggest commitment: It’s a three-way tie for this category, but they all go the way of Stanford, which posted a phenomenal Saturday on the recruiting trail. Safety Kirk Tucker (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) announced his commitment to the Cardinal and was followed quickly by linebackers Bobby Okereke (Tustin, Calif./Foothill) and Joey Alfieri (Portland, Ore./Jesuit). The three three-star commitments are huge additions to Stanford’s defensive class.

Best performance by a commit/target: Since the high school season hasn’t started yet, this can’t refer to on-field performance. But Arizona State fans are surely happy with the showing Dasmond Tautalatasi (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) put together on his trip to Tempe. The three-star athlete visited Arizona State and committed to the Sun Devils following their fall camp practice on Sunday.

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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting each morning. Today's offerings: One rival coach says Stanford has the nation's most underrated class, Florida looks for a big week and Iowa’s big loss shows that Alabama can recruit anywhere in the country.

[+] EnlargeDavid Shaw
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireHis team might not get the recruiting fanfare of others, but David Shaw's Stanford Cardinal had a huge weekend on the trail.
Stanford shaking up Pac-12 race

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Stanford gets huge Saturday haul 

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Head coach Jim Harbaugh and quarterback Andrew Luck left for the NFL, but Stanford didn't disappear from the national picture. With a relentless, pounding ground attack on offense and that same physical aggressiveness in the front seven on defense, the Cardinal are in position to stay among the elite for the foreseeable future.

What's becoming even more evident -- and likely frustrating for fans of other Pac-12 programs -- is that Stanford is taking that dominant presence from the football field to the recruiting trail.


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Urban Meyer is at it again.

The two-time national champion knows where the talent is and he’s not afraid to tap into Georgia time and again.

Ohio State went back to the Peach State late Wednesday night with offers to safety Kirk Tucker (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) and his teammate linebacker Detric Dukes, a Louisville commit.

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