NCF On The Trail: Traevohn Wrench

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.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

February, 3, 2014
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The final week of official visits didn’t disappoint, as four Big 12 schools combined for eight commitments going into Wednesday’s signing day.

TCU was the big winner, landing four players in the 2014 class. Here are some of this past week’s highlights:

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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Is this the week for Oklahoma? The numbers will be there for the Sooners to have a huge recruiting weekend as Oklahoma hosts several big targets for its game against TCU. And speaking of TCU, will one of its top commits switch positions in college?

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


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Top Big 12 recruiting rivalries 

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Recruiting rivalries. No matter if two teams are pushing for a national title or in a rebuilding stage, recruiting gets the people going. Nothing ruffles the feathers of recruiting fans more than monitoring the process of a player considering one school and its big rival.

Here are five of the better recruiting rivalries going right now in the Big 12.


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Big 12 recruiting mailbag

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This week’s Big 12 mailbag focuses on Texas Tech’s class and underrated prospects committed and uncommitted to conference schools. It also discusses some of the tangibles seen from coaches in a Big 12 wide receiver. We encourage all to send questions each week, either via Twitter to @DamonSayles or @ESPNWilkerson or by email at dsaylesespn@gmail.com or wilkerson.espn@gmail.com.

From @taylormidkiff: Who is the most underrated prospect that a Big 12 team will end up getting?

I think that can be answered in two ways. There are a few underrated prospects already committed to a Big 12 program, but running back Traevohn Wrench (Gardner, Kan./Gardner-Edgerton) will be one to watch next year at Kansas. Wrench has been a 2,000-yard back since his sophomore year and is on pace to pass Bubba Starling this season for career rushing yards at the high school. As for the uncommitted underrated prospects of the world, if wide receiver Del’Michael High (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) can get things right academically, he will be every bit as good as any of the ESPN 300 receivers, top to bottom. High, at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, does so much on raw talent alone; coaching from the Big 12 level could make him an all-conference player as a sophomore.

[+] EnlargeNick Watkins
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comESPN 300 cornerback Nick Watkins is still wide open in his recruiting which could help some Big 12 teams.
From PJ Worthen: What are the chances Tech finishes with a top 25 class? After getting Connor Wilson to flip his commit, is Sam Sizelove to follow? What big name recruits have Tech on their radar? Thanks for the time, I enjoy your work!

Thanks for the comments, first of all. Texas Tech is ranked No. 31 in the latest ESPN class rankings. The Red Raiders will need a couple of ESPN 300 commits -- or see some of the teams ahead of it lose some big-name pledges -- to crack the top 25. Texas Tech has 20 commits, which means there’s still room to land some highly ranked players. If the Red Raiders can continue to stay undefeated, they might turn the heads of players still wide open in the process -- such as ESPN 300 cornerback Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne), four-star running back Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter) and high three-star safety Payton Hendrix (Dallas/Bishop Dunne). As for Sizelove (Argyle, Texas/Argyle), he’s said on multiple occasions that he’s still solid with Kansas State -- but the idea of playing with high school teammates Wilson and four-star receiver Ian Sadler is very intriguing.

From @bryantwing: Does Texas have a legitimate chance of reviving their season and win the Big 12? Why or why not?

The losses to BYU and Ole Miss will be short-lived if the Longhorns can score a win against Oklahoma on Oct. 12. The Red River Rivalry is considered by some as the end-all, be-all for Texas’ season. Currently, the Longhorns are undefeated in Big 12 play, and if they can beat the Sooners, they will have the confidence to take out anyone in the conference. If they take a bad loss to Oklahoma, questions about beating TCU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor will begin to spread.

From @dmiller37: Do you see RB/WR Justyn Oliphant (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) fitting into a Big 12 program and which one?

Through four games, Oliphant has 49 rushes for 286 yards. He’s still looking for his first offer, but his seven touchdowns show he can get the job done when his number’s called. He’s not the biggest player at 5-8 and 170 pounds, but he has similar physical qualities as Iowa State running back James White. Although the Cyclones have two big, three-star backs committed in 6-0, 196-pound Tommy Mister (Chicago/St. Rita) and 6-0, 200-pound Martinez Syria (Houston/Nimitz), Oliphant would make for a nice change-of-pace back for the program, someone who also can line up as a slot receiver.

From @AdidasKing5: What kind of receivers fit in well in the big 12

In short, coaches want playmakers. They want receivers who specialize in results. Size, speed and agility preferences differ with every coach, but all coaches will agree that they want a reliable option to the passing game and someone who scores touchdowns or puts them in great position to score, runs great routes and won’t drop passes. Coaches want receivers who will make the lives of opposing defensive backs miserable. There’s still time for uncommitted receivers to make a name for themselves, but the window closes each week.

From @cody_winning: Which Big 12 team is performing the best in terms of recruiting nationally?

If you’re talking about how teams are performing on the field with past recruits, you’ve got to look at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys look really good right now, but Baylor is looking equally dangerous. Both have solid 2014 classes that will only enhance what’s been done. As for the Big 12 team with the top 2014 recruiting class, you have to look at the Texas Longhorns. With seven ESPN 300 commits, the Longhorns have a top-10 class, and they could land one or two more big names. Defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) and safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie), two ESPN 300 players, are among the players still very high on Texas.


What’s the most critical position in the Big 12? It depends on who you talk to. In a conference that rides its offensive reputation, some coaches are hoping to land players that will help them score points, while others are looking for the prospects to prevent points.

As official visits become finalized and uncommitted players get closer to announcing their commitments, here is a look at some of the most critical positions in recruiting for the Big 12 teams.

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After picking up a commitment from one of the nation’s top offensive linemen on Wednesday afternoon, Kansas added a Wednesday evening commitment from not only a versatile athlete but also one of the main 2014 targets in the Sunflower State.

Two-way standout Andre Maloney (Shawnee, Kan./Shawnee Mission West) confirmed that he verbally committed to the Jayhawks. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound athlete joined ESPN 300 offensive lineman Jacob Bragg (Nacogdoches, Texas/Nacogdoches), who committed to Kansas earlier in the day.

Kansas now has five commits in its 2014 recruiting class.

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The Kansas football team has been prime example of quality over quantity with recruiting. The Jayhawks entered Wednesday with only three commitments, but one is ESPN 300 linebacker in Kyron Watson (East St. Louis, Ill./East St. Louis), and another is a four-star dynamo in running back Traevohn Wrench (Gardner, Kan./Gardner-Edgerton).

Wednesday afternoon, the Jayhawks added another major piece to its small-but-statuesque recruiting class, as ESPN 300 offensive lineman Jacob Bragg (Nacogdoches, Texas/Nacogdoches) gave his verbal pledge. Bragg committed while visiting the campus and taking in all that Lawrence, Kan., had to offer.


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Kansas lands local talent Dineen

May, 30, 2013
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Joe Dineen (Lawrence, Kan./Free State), a high school quarterback expected to play safety in college, has pledged to sign with his hometown Jayhawks, multiple sources report.

Rice also offered the 6-foot-2, 190-pound prospect. Arkansas, Iowa State, Nebraska and Oklahoma State expressed interest.

Kansas now has three verbals for 2014, including ESPN 150 linebacker Kyron Watson (East St. Louis, Ill./East St. Louis) and four-star running back Traevohn Wrench (Gardner, Kan./Edgerton).
From his earlier high school days, Kansas has been interested in one hometown kid in particular. On Saturday, that player returned the love with a verbal commitment and became the immediate face of the program for the upcoming recruiting class.


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As a sophomore, Traevohn Wrench (Gardner, Kan./Gardner Edgerton) put up numbers last season that most seniors hope to achieve. Wrench rushed 269 times for 2,424 yards and 33 touchdowns and also caught 15 passes for 161 yards and two scores.

Fittingly for Wrench, a player who is never satisfied, he’s expecting to put up even better numbers as a junior in the 2012 season.

“I’m going to try and do better than I did last year. That’s all I can hope for,” Wrench said. “I didn’t expect it all last year, but I had a good line, so it really worked out.”

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