NCF On The Trail: Shaun Nixon

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.

TCU flips ESPN 300 RB Nixon

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With the 2014 recruiting cycle nearing a close and national signing day less than 24 hours away, TCU secured a big-time late commitment on Tuesday.

The Horned Frogs are set to gain the services of ESPN 300 running back Shaun Nixon (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis), who confirmed to ESPN.com on Tuesday that he has decommitted from Texas A&M and will sign with the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

Nixon, the No. 221 player in the ESPN 300, is the highest-ranked recruit on TCU's 23-man commitment list and the Horned Frogs' lone ESPN 300 prospect. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound four-star running back is ranked No. 18 nationally at his position and is the No. 24 player overall in Texas. He is the lone running back in TCU's 2014 recruiting class.

Over the weekend, Nixon took an official visit to TCU and seemed to be wavering on his longtime commitment to Texas A&M. He originally committed to the Aggies on Nov. 29, 2012.

The Aggies, who have the second-ranked class in the nation, are down to 22 commitments in their class while still in the running for a few players. They are finalists for three prospects who are announcing their destinations Wednesday on ESPNU: ESPN 300 guard Braden Smith (Olathe, Kan./Olathe South) and River Ridge (La.) John Curtis Christian teammates Mattrell McGraw (an ESPN 300 safety) and Kenny Young (a four-star linebacker).

Nixon was the lone running back in Texas A&M's class, leaving the Aggies with no running backs in the 2014 recruiting cycle. They do, however, already have commitments from a pair of 2015 ESPN Junior 300 running backs: Rodney Anderson (Katy, Texas/Katy) and Jay Bradford (Splendora, Texas/Splendora).

Bold predictions: Big 12 

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One of the best things about national signing day is that, every year, it provides a last-minute surprise. Whether it involves a solid commit with an 11th-hour flip or an uncommitted player choosing a school to shock the masses, the day is good for full-fledged entertainment.

As we prepare for Wednesday, here are five bold predictions that we might see happen within the Big 12:

When Splendora (Texas) High School running back Jay Bradford displayed his elite speed for Texas A&M coaches at a June camp, the Aggies' staff knew he was something special.

And after already landing one ESPN Junior 300 running back, the Aggies added another when Bradford committed to Texas A&M on Wednesday night.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound back became the third commitment in Texas A&M's 2015 class, giving his pledge to Kevin Sumlin. Splendora track coach and assistant football coach Randy Pope confirmed the news to GigEmNation via text message.

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Weekend wrap: SEC 

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Despite the college football season being just a few short weeks away, recruiting season is still in full swing. As always, there was lots of news in the SEC recruiting world, including a few commitments and a big unofficial visit that took place. and some upcoming decision dates. Now a few questions must be answered.

Here is a look at the weekend that was in SEC recruiting.


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If you want evidence as to why Texas A&M has one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, look no further than the latest ESPN 300.

Last season, the Aggies -- who had college football's No. 8 recruiting class -- hauled in 10 players in the 2013 ESPN 300.


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Texas A&M: 2014 prospects to watch 

February, 7, 2013
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With Texas A&M's 2013 recruiting class in the books, we turn the page and take a glance at the 2014 class. The Aggies already have seven commitments in the class. Let's take a closer look at some of those players:


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Weekly Commitment Roundup 

November, 30, 2012
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ACC
Wake Forest
Joshua Okonye CB Richmond, Texas, George Ranch
HT: 6-0 WT: 183
Position Rank: N/A

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Aggies add 2014 RB Shaun Nixon 

November, 29, 2012
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Shaun NixonMiller Safrit/ESPN.comESPN Watch List tailback Shaun Nixon is Texas A&M's fourth commitment of the Class of 2014.
Texas A&M's momentum in the 2014 recruiting class continues to build.

The Aggies made their fourth addition to the class on Thursday morning, landing ESPN Watch List running back Shaun Nixon of Austin (Texas) Lake Travis. Nixon confirmed the news to RecruitingNation via text message.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back had five offers in total, with the others coming from Baylor, Clemson, SMU and Texas Tech. He was also receiving interest from TCU, Oklahoma, Alabama and Texas.

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Texas A&M's upset win over No. 1 Alabama sent shockwaves through the Southeastern Conference and the college football landscape.

For the Aggies to make their first-ever trip Bryant-Denny Stadium and defeat the favored, defending BCS champions sent a statement to the rest of the league that the Aggies are not here to be a doormat.

Ed Paris
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comEd Paris, a 2014 CB prospect, was impressed with A&M's win over Alabama, but knows it can't be the only thing affecting his decision.
The impact of the 29-24 victory wasn't just felt on the field for Texas A&M, it also caught the attention of recruits everywhere.

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The state of Texas has been and will continue to be the primary recruiting base for Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and his coaching staff. The Lone Star State oozes talent on a year-in, year-out basis and the Aggies are certainly tapping into that well.

But with their entrance into the Southeastern Conference, the Aggies have been able to expand their recruiting footprint, another thing that Sumlin wanted to see. A national presence is something he wants. So that's why it should come as no surprise that the Aggies have offered 13 out-of-state prospects that are on the ESPN Watch List.


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As 2014 running back Shaun Nixon (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis) prepares for the upcoming season, he’ll take the field with five offers – in addition to interest from two new schools.

Nixon said TCU and Alabama both have been in recent contact. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back has offers from Baylor, Texas A&M, SMU, Texas Tech and Clemson, but potential offers from TCU and Alabama could be game-changers in his recruiting process.

“Alabama is a great school for a running back,” Nixon said. “TCU is good for academics and football, and they’re going to the Big 12. The coaches told me don’t forget about them, and they hoped they were still in my picture.”

Nixon rushed for 1,250 yards and 15 touchdowns and also caught 27 passes for 350 yards and three touchdown passes as a sophomore. He assisted Lake Travis to its fifth consecutive state championship last season.

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2014 RB Nixon feeling the Aggies 

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Shaun Nixon (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis) already has five offers, but one of them mattered more than the rest for the 2014 running back.

When Texas A&M offered in May, Nixon couldn’t help but be excited.

“Man, A&M is a great school,” he said. “It was very exhilarating. It was just like the first one -- when you get that offer, that’s big. They’re going to the SEC now, so that would be a great deal.”

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