NCF On The Trail: Nigel Bethel II

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.

Biggest flips: Big 12 

February, 3, 2014
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On Wednesday, many of the top stars of the 2014 recruiting class will transition from being college commits to college signees. Don’t be surprised if a last-minute flip or two occurs, as committed athletes will use these final hours to re-examine their choices and weigh them against new possibilities one last time.

Flipping is common in recruiting, and the Big 12 this year has had its share of players leaving for other conferences, as well as players choosing to play in the Big 12 after originally picking another conference. Here are five players who flipped to Big 12 programs and could have an impact on the college level sooner than later.

Big 12 class rankings analysis 

January, 15, 2014
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The big question entering the new week: Would Texas take a dive in the ESPN class rankings after losing three defensive tackle pledges?


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

January, 13, 2014
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With a little more than three weeks until signing day, schools are now in the 11th hour of recruiting for 2014 targets. While some programs will try to land the big fish still uncommitted, other programs will try to make some commits have a change of heart just in time for the Feb. 5 signing day.

Texas picked up junior college tight end Blake Whiteley (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada/Arizona Western College), but the Longhorns losing three defensive lineman commitments proved to be the talk of last week. Oklahoma, however, managed to add two to its growing class and Kansas State and Texas Tech also got big-time commitments. Expect a lot more fireworks this week, as several athletes will take game-changing official visits.
Here are some of this past week’s highlights:

Biggest commitment: Few commits last week were bigger -- or arguably more shocking -- than ESPN 300 cornerback Nigel Bethel II (Miami/Booker T. Washington), who switched his pledge from Miami to Texas Tech. The 5-foot-9, 172-pound cornerback became the Red Raiders’ first ESPN 300 commit, and he’ll offer immediate help for Kliff Kingsbury’s secondary. Bethel, No. 233 in the ESPN 300 and the nation’s 19th-ranked cornerback, is a true cover corner, and in the Big 12, defenders of his caliber are always welcomed.

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Gators add ESPN 300 RB Brandon Powell

January, 10, 2014
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Florida was able to get its second commitment in as many days as four-star athlete Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) switched his commitment from Miami to Florida on Friday morning.

The news was first reported by Zach Abolverdi of the Gainesville Sun, and Deerfield Beach head coach Allen Jackson later confirmed via text message. The 5-foot-9, 171-pound athlete, who is being recruited by Florida to play running back, is expected to enroll in classes at Florida sometime on Friday.

The Powell addition is important for the Gators. After Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central), the No. 4 running back in the country, flipped his commitment from Florida to Florida State, the Gators were left with a void at running back. Powell has speed and playmaking ability that has been missing from the Florida backfield in the last two seasons.

"Powell is reminiscent of Miami's Duke Johnson, but shorter and leaner,” his Recruiting Nation scouting report reads. "On pure skill-set alone, Powell would be considered one of the elite backs in this class, but he just isn't blessed with the measurables coveted by coaches. High-risk, high-reward player who could be a feature return specialist. Durability is always going to be a concern.”

With Powell on board, the Gators now have 21 verbal commitments including 12 ranked in the ESPN 300.

As for Miami, Powell was the second South Florida prospect to change his commitment in the last two days. The other, cornerback Nigel Bethel II (Miami/Booker T. Washington) flipped his commitment from Miami to Texas Tech on Thursday evening. The Hurricanes still have 26 commits including 11 ranked in the ESPN 300.
Braxton Berrios was intrigued, but hardly worried. He did not expect the NCAA to alter his future Tuesday when it announced its long-awaited sanctions on Miami.

Now that Miami will not face any further bowl bans and will lose only nine total scholarships over the next three seasons, Berrios is ready to move on to Coral Gables, Fla., with the rest of Miami’s top-five 2014 recruiting class.

Trent Harris
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTrent Harris is excited that the uncertainty about NCAA sanctions at Miami is over.
“It’s great to be a Miami Hurricane,” the four-star receiver from Raleigh (N.C.) Leesville Road said. “I’m glad this 2-year investigation is over and the university as well can move on.”

Miami is 6-0 and No. 7 in the initial BCS standings, and ESPN 300 defensive end commit Trent Harris (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) believes the news of the NCAA sanctions had benefits in the present and future.

The Canes’ self-imposed postseason ban kept them from competing for an ACC title in 2012, but they are in the driver’s seat for a conference championship in 2013.

“Well, I think it’s great that they weren’t banned from any bowl games and I know that the current players on the team just got an extra boost of excitement,” Harris said. “I just can’t wait to go out there and win a national championship."

Miami coach Al Golden has told recruits not to worry about the NCAA, and they heeded his advice. Top target Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer), No. 42 in the ESPN 300, told the Palm Beach Post’s Anthony Chiang he “wasn’t too worried about the Miami sanctions.”

Asked if he was concerned the NCAA’s decision could impact his verbal commitment and future with the program, Berrios said, “Not really.”

“I figured they wouldn’t get much. Al Golden played a great part as well as [Miami president Donna Shalala] in assuring Miami did all they could to minimize the sanctions,” Berrios said.


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One ESPN 300 athlete is expected to choose a school the majority of the public has predicted for months. Any chance for a surprise change of plans? Another ESPN 300 athlete celebrates a birthday but continues to keep his followers guessing. Also, who’s the next big get for Texas after landing its eighth ESPN Junior 300 commitment?

Here are some of the Big 12 recruiting storylines for the week:

Does TCU have a chance at Garrett?

ESPN 300 DE Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/Martin) is expected to announce where he’ll play college football this weekend. The majority of his followers agree that when the weekend is over, he will be a Texas A&M commit.

Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State also are high on Garrett’s list. The school closest to him, TCU, also is in the mix. What are the odds that the nation’s No. 7 player shocks the world and chooses the Horned Frogs over the Aggies?

Low. But, fortunately for TCU fans, not nonexistent. While Texas A&M is the team to beat, TCU has two things working for it -- proximity and familiarity.

Garrett lives roughly 15 minutes from TCU, and having his parents at every home game -- and several close road games in the Big 12 -- wouldn’t be difficult at all. Additionally, Garrett and TCU defensive end Devonte Fields have Martin ties. Fields, who will miss the remainder of TCU’s season with a foot injury, graduated from Martin in 2012.

Garrett is expected to be in College Station, Texas, for A&M’s game Saturday against Auburn, and all signs are pointing to him to wear Aggie maroon next year. But let’s not count out TCU just yet. After all, the Horned Frogs managed to score a shocker commitment in high three-star offensive lineman Ty Barrett (Dallas/Skyline) -- who was thought to favor Ole Miss and Oklahoma, among others.

Who’s next for Texas’ 2015 class?


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