K-State, KU classes bring up the rear in the Big 12 again, but get back to us in 3-4 years
FEB 05, 2014 6:25p ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- We know what you're thinking: Ninth in the Big 12? Again?
Grain of salt. No. Check that. The whole shaker.
National Signing Day is a holiday for the Internet -- Independence Day and Thanksgiving rolled into one. After all, it was the World Wide Web that brought the pundits out of their basements, riding the crest of the online wave into the modems of fans hungry for college football, college anything, 24-7. Draftniks and analysts with their hourly updates and their quick takes were ahead of the curve, forcing the rest of the keyboard clique to play catch-up.
The trouble with Fax Wednesday isn't the build-up, nor the cottage industry or obsessives it created.
What was true in 1994 or 2004 is just as true now: Today we crown winners and losers, but the truth -- the real truth, the real victors -- won't be clear for years down the road. Three years, maybe. Four, likely. Maybe even five.
But we want winners now, losers now. So here you go: Alabama has the most gifted 17-year-olds in the country, according to Scout.com, followed by Louisiana State, then Florida State. Kansas State is No. 57, Kansas No. 62, landing at No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, out of 10 among Big 12 hauls.
Get back to us when they're 21. Or 22.
"I think one staff has really shown the ability to develop lowly ranked classes," Scout.com national recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman says, referring to coach Bill Snyder's notorious gift for spinning the experts' straw men into Big 12 gold. "I think Kansas State's class (rank) is a little misleading. It's marked low because they have the smallest class in the Big 12.
"Again, what it really comes down to is player development. If we go get the track record of taking lower-rated guys and making them (competitive) ... if you're a K-State fan, you're going, 'OK, same story, different year.'
"But if you're a KU fan, you're like, 'OK, maybe we could have used some more talent this year.'"
Now that being said, Huffman notes, he likes Charlie Weis' crop. A lot. In fact, he thinks it might be the best group yet, collectively, to be corralled by the present regime. The Jayhawks started well with running back Traevohn Wrench out of Gardner, Kan., an early commit, and ended well with running back Corey Avery out of Dallas, Texas. In between, well, that's more of a wait-and-see, but Huffman is more than cool with the balance of preps and JUCO types. Weis leaned heavy on the junior college route a year ago, and KU's two biggest 'gets' -- Marquel Combs and Chris Martin -- promptly blew up in his face.
In Manhattan, the new boodle makes up with quality what it might lack in quantity. Especially center Dalton Risner out of Wiggins, Colo., whom Huffman tabbed as his No. 1 center prospect out of the West region. Junior college imports Terrell Clinkscales, a defensive tackle from Dodge City, and D'Vonta Derricott, a linebacker from Garden City, are the heavy hitters, but the Scout folks dig the depth of Snyder's 2014 grabs, too. The Wildcats inked a dozen three-star prospects, including a trio from Blue Springs (Mo.) High School -- running back Dalvin Warmack, safety Kaleb Prewett and linebacker Elijah Lee.
"And that's another misconception," says Greg Powers, Scout.com's regional recruiting manager/analyst for the Midlands. "Three-stars make up a very high percentage of rosters ... you've got to have three-star talent. San Francisco and Seattle, (Colin) Kaepernick and (Russell) Wilson went to the NFC Championship Game, but both quarterbacks were two-star guys (in high school).
"So you've got to throw some development in there, too -- these guys develop and change. What a 17-year-old kid is (now), he might not be as a 22-year-old kid."
In the Little Apple, the star ratings of winter don't mean much, long term. Colin Klein was a two-star type as a teen. Ty Zimmerman was, too. Ditto John Hubert, Meshak Williams, Tremaine Thompson, Cornelius Lucas ...
"(With) Snyder you've got to give coaching some credit when credit's due," Powers continues. "Snyder came in there and won with (former coach) Ron Prince's classes, (ones) that really (weren't) as good as some of the other teams in the Big 12. I don't think you (would) go back and trade Ron Prince's classes for any of Mack Brown's classes."
Or would you? From 2009 through 2012, the Wildcats' recruiting takes, according to Scout, ranked 12th out of 12 in the league, 12th out of 12, ninth out of 10 and 10th out of 10. Their average national rank: 97th. From 2010-12, K-State posted an 18-8 record in Big 12 games, the third-best winning percentage in the league over that span, behind only Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Meanwhile, take Texas, same stretch. Recruiting classes: first, second, first and first. Average national rank: ninth. Combined Big 12 record from 2010-12: 11-15.
In February, they hand out digital trophies. In December, you get the real ones. The real ones look better in the lobby of your football complex. A lot better.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter at @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.