NCF On The Trail: Malik Jefferson

National signing day is almost nigh. A day for college football fans to get excited.

With that in mind, below is a breakdown of the most exciting piece of each Big 12 recruiting class heading into the big day:

Baylor

What to get excited about: A stud quarterback

The player: QB Jarrett Stidham

The skinny: Stidham is the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the country, who originally committed to Texas Tech before signing with the Bears. He is already on campus and primed to challenge Seth Russell for the starting job vacated by Bryce Petty. Either way, Art Briles has yet another quarterback prospect who could be special in time.

Iowa State

What to get excited about: Juco defensive reinforcements

The players: DT Demond Tucker, CB Jomal Wiltz, S Jarnor Jones, DT Bobby Leath

The skinny: After ranking 128th out of 128 teams this past season in total defense, the Cyclones went out and picked up a quartet of junior-college defenders who could step in and help right away. Tucker, an ESPN Junior College 50 prospect, and Wiltz are already on campus and could secure starting jobs before the end of the spring. Once he arrives, Leath could team with Tucker to solidfy a tackle rotation that was undermanned last season.

Kansas

What to get excited about: The Lone Star State influx

The players: DE Dorance Armstrong, WR Jeremiah Booker, OG Aaron Garza, WR Emmanuel Moore, WR Steven Sims, CB Shaquille Richmond, RB Taylor Martin, WR Chase Harrell, CB Shola Ayinde, OLB Osaze Ogbebor

The skinny: The Jayhawks hired David Beaty in part because of his recruiting ties to the state of Texas. Beaty wasted no time putting those connections into play, giving the Jayhawks 10 commitments from high school Texans heading into signing day. Beaty also signed six more junior-college players from the Lone Star State. If he can keep those Texas waves coming, Kansas’ talent pool has a chance to rapidly improve.

Kansas State

What to get excited about: The potential backfield of the future

The players: RB Alex Barnes, QB Alex Delton

The skinny: Barnes, the No. 2 prospect from the Sunflower State, rushed for more than 2,300 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns as a high school senior. Delton, a three-star dual-threat quarterback, was the first to commit to this K-State class. The Wildcats have holes at both quarterback and running back heading into the spring, and the two are already on campus and set to participate. Even if they don’t contribute immediately, Delton and Barnes could become the heart and soul of the K-State backfield in time.

Oklahoma

What to get excited about: Wide receiver help

The players: WR John Humphrey Jr., WR DeDe Westbrook

The skinny: Oklahoma’s passing attack went downhill after Sterling Shepard suffered a groin injury that hampered him the second half of the season. Shepard could have more help in 2015 with the arrival of Humphrey and Westbrook, who are already in Norman. Westbrook, an ESPN JC 50 signee, is reportedly already turning heads. Humphrey is an ESPN 300 prospect who picked the Sooners over Notre Dame. Both receivers could elevate Oklahoma’s receiving corps and ease the pressure off Shepard as the Sooners transition into Lincoln Riley's air raid offense.

Oklahoma State

What to get excited about: The defensive linemen

The players: DE Louis Brown, DT Darrion Daniels, DT Motekiai Maile, DT Taaj Bakari

The skinny: Last year, the Cowboys loaded up with a strong linebacker class. This year, Oklahoma State successfully focused its efforts up front. Daniels, a four-star pickup, and Maile, an ESPN JC 50 prospect, offer immediate impact in the middle, which the Cowboys need with James Castleman and Ofa Hautau both graduating. Brown, an ESPN 300 commit, has the range and athleticism to develop into a playmaking end. The combination of the last two classes could translate into Oklahoma State becoming a load up front defensively for years to come.

TCU

What to get excited about: A shutdown corner

The player: CB DeShawn Raymond

The skinny: From Jason Verrett to Kevin White, the Horned Frogs have featured some of the best cornerbacks in the Big 12 since joining the conference. They could have another lock-down pass-defender on the way in Raymond, a four-star addition who had offers from Florida State, Georgia and LSU. TCU has other replacement options for White. But Raymond has the ability to be a factor for the Frogs in 2015, and certainly beyond.

Texas

What to get excited about: The defensive star power

The players: OLB Malik Jefferson, ILB Anthony Wheeler, S DeShon Elliott, CB Holton Hill, CB Kris Boyd, OLB Cameron Townsend, S Davante Davis

The skinny: Charlie Strong has put together one of the strongest defensive classes in the country with seven ESPN 300 recruits on that side of the ball alone. The Longhorns might not be done, either, with five-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack still strongly considering signing with Texas. This class could be the foundation of a future fearsome Texas defense.

Texas Tech

What to get excited about: A big-time defensive tackle

The player: DT Breiden Fehoko

The skinny: The Red Raiders had one of the worst run defenses in the country last year, but help is on the way in Fehoko, who as the No. 51 overall recruit in the country chose Tech over the likes of Oregon and Alabama. At 6-foot-3, 290 pounds, Fehoko has physical maturity already to impact the Red Raiders in 2015, and develop into a game-changing defensive lineman down the line.

West Virginia

What to get excited about: The Miramar trio

The players: WR Jovon Durante, CB Tyrek Cole, WR Kahlil Lewis

The skinny: Miramar (Fla.) High School is the West Virginia pipeline that keeps giving. The same school that sent Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey to West Virginia is sending three more blue-chippers to Morgantown. Durante and Cole are ESPN 300 prospects. Lewis was hotly pursued, too, with offers from Miami, Ohio State and Nebraska. All three have a chance to help the Mountaineers as soon as next season.
National signing day, and the build up to it, is as close as Texas and Texas A&M get to actual football competition these days, to see who will in fact “run this state.”

Well, right now it’s neither school. The Lone Star State is run by Baylor and TCU, the Big 12 co-champs that narrowly missed the initial College Football Playoff field.

That’s why the 2015 recruiting class and the season are so vital to both the Longhorns and Aggies, with each power striving to re-establish itself -- not just regionally, but nationally.

Texas and Texas A&M lead off our look at programs and coaches that need the 2015 class to pay off, and the sooner the better.

(Note: The RecruitingNation ranking and number of commitments are updated as of Sunday evening.)

1. Texas
Ranking: 9
Commitments: 26

The Longhorns have secured a number of solid, team-building pieces in this class, and a few high-end targets -- DT Daylon Mack and RB Soso Jamabo, among them -- remain distinct possibilities to sign with Texas this week.

Still, Wednesday

There are 30 players committed to Big 12 schools in the final update of the ESPN 300 for the Class of 2015. That number is comparable to the Big Ten and the Pac-12, but definitely trails behind the ACC and SEC. What also has to be troubling is the lack of top-flight national recruits ending up at Big 12 schools. Only two top-50 players and seven in the top 100 are heading to Big 12 programs. The good news is that those numbers could change down the stretch as some good talent remains on the board in Texas and Oklahoma.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

UCLA fell short of preseason expectations in 2014, but it still posted three wins over top-25 teams and has an opportunity to finish the year with 10 wins. That success also came largely on the back of a large group of young players, which means that -- aside from the best player on offense and defense -- the Bruins should have very few holes to fill with the depth already on the roster as well as a tremendous 2015 recruiting class.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

It has been a whirlwind of recruiting news for Texas A&M over the last few weeks. The Aggies lost a commitment from five-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack and missed out on commitments from the No. 3-ranked outside linebacker in the country, Malik Jefferson, and four star athlete DeAndre McNeal, who chose the in-state Texas Longhorns when they announced their decisions.

Mack is just one of three prospects who have backed off their pledges to Texas A&M this football season. The others, Richard Moore decommitted on Dec. 3 and wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge opened up his recruitment on Sept. 18.

Not all has been bad news for the Aggies, however. The No. 3-ranked wide receiver in the country, Christian Kirk, gave his verbal commitment to Texas A&M last Wednesday.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video Malik Jefferson's commitment could alter recruiting landscape in Texas, says one Big 12 coach. Plus, where do the Power 5 conferences stack up when it comes to ESPN 300 commitments.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Scout's Take: LB Malik Jefferson to Texas 

December, 19, 2014
12/19/14
9:58
AM ET
video
Under Armour All-American Malik Jefferson is now the top-rated prospect in Charlie Strong's 2015 class. Below, find out what Jefferson brings to the improving Texas Longhorns defense:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

December, 16, 2014
12/16/14
10:00
AM ET
video
It was a busy weekend in the Pac-12, with commitments, offers, visits and awards touching nearly every team in the conference, including Stanford, USC and Washington reeling in big commitments and UCLA hosting impact prospects. Here is a look at some of the more impactful events of the past few days, as well as a glimpse of what this week could hold in the Pac-12.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Early Offer: The dead period is here 

December, 14, 2014
12/14/14
11:00
PM ET
video
What is the dead period and why is it an important time in football recruiting? Plus, Texas Tech’s loss at quarterback could be Baylor’s gain.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Best of the visits: Pac-12

December, 14, 2014
12/14/14
1:00
PM ET
The final weekend before the month-long dead period saw a number of official visitors on Pac-12 campuses. Here is a look at those trips through the eyes of the recruits on social media.

Hollywood in Westwood

UCLA hosted ESPN 300 prospect Malik Jefferson and four-star athlete DeAndre McNeal from Texas, and the Lone Star State prospects were introduced to life in Los Angeles via an encounter with actress Kerry Washington. While McNeal tweeted about the meeting, Jefferson, the nation's No. 35 recruit, snapped a picture of his mother meeting the actress.
The visitors to UCLA were also treated to a basketball game at Pauley Pavilion, from where McNeal delivered this tweet. The Bruins have made their presence felt in Texas the past few years and grabbing commitments from these two would send a significant message about head coach Jim Mora's recruiting momentum.

UCLA also hosted wide receiver commit L.J. Reed on his official visit. Cal's big weekend

From the looks of the photo tweeted by Cal quarterback Ross Bowers, the Golden Bears hosted at least nine official visitors this weekend. The Golden Bears have 15 commitments with room for several more. Bowers was joined on the trip by juco defensive end and Washington State commit DeVante Wilson, Duke commit and dual-threat quarterback DePriest Turner and tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe, among others. Utes host local linebacker

It's a big year for talent in Utah and the Utes look like they'll miss out on the three big ESPN 300 prospect in state -- Andre James, Osa Masina and Porter Gustin. After losing a commitment from four-star offensive tackle Branden Bowen, it'll be important for Utah to land several in-state prospects, as they have just one commitment from any of the top-10 prospects in Utah.

This past weekend, the Utes hosted linebacker Christian Folau -- a former Stanford commit -- and are among the top three programs for him. Trojans chasing Ross

USC gained a significant commitment from ESPN 300 tight end Tyler Petite on Friday, then hosted a trio of recruits over the weekend, including ESPN 300 athlete Ykili Ross. Capable of playing cornerback or safety, Ross looks to be a primary target for USC head coach Steve Sarkisian down the stretch. The Trojans also brought in athletic director Pat Haden during the trip. Buffs bring in commits

After an impressive showing last weekend that eventually netted two commitments, Colorado posted another big weekend, with a number of verbal commitments making the trip. ESPN 300 lineman Timmy Lynott is the most important commitment in Colorado's class, and was on hand. The Buffs also received an official visit from four-star running back Donald Gordon, who appeared to very much enjoy the trip.

Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

December, 12, 2014
12/12/14
9:00
AM ET
It's the last opportunity for college coaches to host official visitors before the month-long dead period begins Monday, and Pac-12 campuses will be full of top prospects this weekend. Virtually every Pac-12 program is hosting an important weekend, with ESPN 300 prospects scheduled to visit at least four schools in the conference.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Wisconsin landed a four-star running back on Thursday despite not having a head coach. Plus, Nebraska is already impressing rival recruiters with its effort on trail.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

David Cutcliffe of Duke said young coaches should turn to Kenny Rogers for advice on how to get ahead on the recruiting trail. Plus, Florida's Jim McElwain has been busy since he was hired.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SMU’s move to hire Texas native Chad Morris will pay off big time on the recruiting trail. Plus, you have to really give credit to UAB coach Bill Clark for the recruiting job he did while his administrators were shuttering his program.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Early Offer: Malik Jefferson's final 7 

November, 24, 2014
11/24/14
11:00
PM ET

Malik Jefferson reduced his list to seven schools on Monday, and though the list is hardly a surprise, recruiters think there are still some in store with the No. 35 player in the country.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES